It is important to consider what you want to have happen to your property and your children in the event that you meet an untimely death or become incapacitated. At the Braverman Law Group, LLC, our Boulder estate planning lawyers possess more than 20 years of combined experience. We provide detailed, patient guidance to our clients, explaining the process of estate planning and describing which legal documents will be needed to meet your objectives. We make sure that our clients fully understand their options and draft the appropriate documents so that their wishes for their estate are known in case of their death or incapacity.Estate Planning
Many people would prefer not to think about their death or the possibility of a disability. However, proper estate planning allows you to control how your property is distributed and can eliminate family conflicts. The Braverman Law Group develops wills, trusts, and powers of attorney on behalf of its clients.
The most basic estate planning document is a will. The will transfers property to people who survive your death. If you do not prepare a will, your estate will be distributed in probate court in an expensive and lengthy process. Certain formalities must be met for the will to be valid. For example, to create a will, the testator (the person making the will) needs to be at least 18 years old. The will needs to be signed and in writing. A will may name those to whom possessions will be bequeathed, as well as guardians to care for minor children. A will may name a personal representative to make sure that the wishes expressed in the will are carried out. Wills also provide a safeguard in case certain assets are not placed in a trust prior to the death of the testator.
Another important document with which an estate planning attorney in Boulder can help you is a trust. Trusts are arrangements whereby a trustee holds legal title to specified property placed in the trust for a beneficiary. Sometimes people create living trusts, in which they keep complete control over the property of the trust while they are alive. It is important to be aware that probate is not as complicated for estates under $50,000. The simplified probate process applies to these estates, so, if you have a small estate, you may not want to go through the trouble of creating a trust.
Another important estate planning document in Colorado is a durable power of attorney. This document allows a person whom you name within it to make important health care decisions on your behalf as the principal creating the power of attorney. It can be used if, for example, you have fallen unconscious and cannot give proper consent to medical procedures, or if you do not want to be kept alive by using artificial respiration.Asset Protection
In Colorado, asset protection refers to strategies used to protect property from people or entities that might seek to take it through lawful or unlawful means. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous people scheme to take advantage of senior citizens, who are a vulnerable segment of the population. These are often people whom you know, such as former partners in a business or spouses of your children. But assets also may need to be protected from judgment creditors, scam artists, and other strangers who try to exploit the trust of elderly people. An elderly person’s most valuable assets often consist of real estate. We can help you work out a plan to protect your home, a vacation home, and other property so that it is preserved for your loved ones.Special Needs Trusts
Parents with special needs children may feel concerned about how they can protect the financial security of their children without preventing them from gaining access to public benefits. You can set up a special needs trust (also known as a supplemental needs trust or supplemental care trust) for the benefit of an adult or minor child who is disabled. The purpose of the trust is to allow the disabled child to receive both their inheritance and the public benefits to which they are entitled. Without a special needs trust, the child would not be able to receive public benefits until the inheritance is exhausted. Our Boulder estate planning attorneys can carefully draft these trusts so that the funds in them are not counted toward SSI and Medicaid eligibility.Trust Administration
Once the settlor of a trust dies, the successor trustee will need to take over the responsibility of managing the trust. They will need to locate and collect the assets contained in the trust and ensure that they are transferred into their name as the successor trustee. It is important to take an inventory during this process and get appraisals for any assets that do not have an easily calculable value, such as real estate. The successor trustee will need to pay off the debts of the settlor and satisfy any tax obligations, such as filing a federal estate tax return if applicable. They also may need to provide an accounting of their actions as the trustee in spending trust funds. Once all of these steps have been taken, the trustee must distribute the remaining assets in the trust among the designated beneficiaries. Complexities and unexpected obstacles can arise at each step in this process, but we are here to guide you through them.Gun Trusts
If you own a weapon covered by the National Firearms Act (NFA), you can create a gun trust to make it easier to transfer the weapon. Some of the weapons covered by this federal law include automatic rifles, weapons with silencers, and sawed-off shotguns. The NFA imposes restrictions on selling or transferring these weapons, and using a gun trust can help you ensure that you comply with the law. A gun trust is similar to other types of trusts in that it names a beneficiary for the weapons and a trustee to manage them. However, it must be drafted carefully to account for the NFA restrictions, so consulting an experienced attorney is essential. Otherwise, the trust may be found invalid, which means that criminal penalties could result from transferring the weapons.Probate
If an elderly person places all of their property in a trust, probate will not be required. However, this process may be necessary if the elderly person’s property reaches a certain threshold, and they do not construct a trust, or if property left outside the trust exceeds the required threshold. If there are no creditor issues or conflicts among heirs, you can use an informal probate proceeding. However, if disputes arise, you will need to go through a formal probate proceeding in court. A formal probate proceeding can be either supervised or unsupervised. If it is supervised, the court will need to oversee and approve the distribution of property. Our attorneys can help you navigate the nuances of probate to take the stress of any conflict off your shoulders and transfer the assets of your loved one as efficiently as possible.Consult an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer in Boulder
The experienced Boulder attorneys at the Braverman Law Group, LLC believe that making informed choices helps our clients have peace of mind. Each family has unique needs, and our attorneys sit down with each client and explain their options in detail. Call us to talk about your estate planning needs at 720-523-1586 or contact us via our online form.