Please call 877-437-1619 for a free one hour consultation to learn how these estate planning basics can best be applied to help your unique family.
AN OVERVIEW OF
WILLS, TRUST, & PROBATE
Estate planning is like life insurance or seat belts, you hope it won’t be necessary any time soon, but preparation is the wisest course.
Estate planning is a process
- Protect your spouse and children from stress, unpleasantness and expense
- Dispose of your property in accordance with your wishes and values
- Provide for yourself and your children through loving selection of guardians, conservators and other key people
Many families find that the process of estate planning, including selecting and talking with key people in their plans, has immediate benefits. Every client finds peace of mind. Some also find a new closeness between families and nominated trustees, agents and others, and a clarity about the family’s place in your community.
Let’s look at some legal facts.
Colorado will restrict use of your assets
- If you have no will, you have Colorado’s plan. Your assets will go to your “heirs at law.”
- If you need help managing your affairs, Colorado will choose who is paid to help you, sometimes after a costly and time-consuming battle.
- Half of your separate property must be put into a separate court-supervised trust for each of your children, restricting your spouse’s ability to use the money.
- Separate trusts hurt the child with special needs, because your spouse cannot use the other children’s trusts to meet those needs, no matter how serious or urgent.
- 100% of the assets will be distributed when your child is 18, regardless of maturity level, financial savvy, or special needs.
Colorado will decide who raises your children
- If the other parent does not survive or is not custodial (as after some divorces) the court will choose your child’s guardian.
- If your family or friends disagree about who should raise your children, the court will have to step in, resulting in high legal costs and possible family rifts that never heal.
- Your children may even be placed in foster care until the dispute is resolved in favor of a court-appointed guardian.
Estate planning saves money
- Court, attorneys and trustees fees to administer guardianships, conservatorships, probate and court-supervised trusts for your kids.
- Estate taxes of up to 55% of the current values of your assets (after subtracting debt) if your net worth plus life insurance benefits exceed $1,000,000. Call our office for an estimate.
Estate planning is a gift to your family
Between taxes and probate, your family may spend lots of time and money that could have been prevented with a solid estate plan. It is so much easier on the survivors emotionally and financially if they can consult with a trusted and liked attorney to administer your well-drafted plan. A few comfortable appointments and all will be set in accordance with your wishes.
Consider what you would prefer if you were the surviving spouse, and consider what your spouse would prefer if you were not there. Finally, imagine life for your children with guardians lovingly chosen by you, and with the assets to ensure their comfort and security. This is the peace of mind that an estate plan can provide.
We believe that estate planning is not about documents, but rather about results! Too often estate planning is equated with legal documents. While it is true that these documents are necessary to achieve your estate planning objectives, the estate planning process consists of much more than this. It also involves your goals, fears, dreams and values.
Estate Planning is sometimes considered something with which only the really wealthy need to be concerned. This misconception often comes from the use of the term “estate planning”. The word “estate” is equated with wealth. Actually “estate” could be thought of as you, your family, knowledge, experience, health and independence, as well as your “stuff”. So, when we are talking about estate planning we are actually talking about “life planning”.
During the estate planning process, we are actually defining a set of “blueprints” for your life and your “stuff”, spelling out how you want your life and “stuff” handled when you are not able to do so, either because of incapacity or ultimately because of death. This includes how you want your estate managed, who you want managing your estate and for whom you want it managed.
For you to be comfortable with your estate plan, you need to have a high level of understanding about your plan. Therefore, we will help you become familiar with the terminology, tools and laws involved. We will explain sophisticated estate planning concepts in a manner that is easy to understand. We use drawings and flowcharts to help explain these concepts. These drawings are then included in your Estate Planning Portfolio.
Any lawyer can pull forms out of a form book, which is too often passed off as estate planning. In proper planning, each element of the estate plan is designed to meet your goals and objectives. One size does not fit all! Each and every piece of the estate planning puzzle must be addressed and provided for.
Finally, for your estate plan to work as designed, it must be reviewed on a regular basis (every 3 to 5 years). We want our relationship with you to be a long-term one, so that you and your loved ones know whom to call whenever there is a need for a trusted advisor.