Estate Planning in Colorado
While planning for end-of-life property transfer or the care of your minor children or disabled children in the event of your death, you need a law firm with the experience and knowledge to help you understand your options so you can make an informed decision that meets your individual needs. Shelly Rosnik understands that planning for your death can be difficult, the greatest gift you can leave your loved ones is a well-structured plan that clearly identifies your wishes, eliminating undue stress and anxiety. Columbine Law Group, PC can help you determine what best fits your goals whether through a revocable trust, irrevocable trust, special needs trust, testamentary will, a simple will, or other estate planning vehicles. In the event of incapacity, your estate documents should always include a medical power of attorney, durable or financial power of attorney, and a living will. There are a lot of considerations in planning for your later years including Medicaid, Medicare, disability, financial planning, estate taxation issues, and long term care.
What is the difference between a Trust and a Will?
Revocable Trusts – Outright gifts to the surviving spouse and testamentary trusts are usually contained in revocable trusts. Revocable trusts are used for many reasons including but not limited to estate tax planning, protection of personal and real property, and avoidance of probate. Because Colorado has adopted the Uniform Probate Code, probate may not be very expensive and the procedure is not difficult in some cases. If your goals include a revocable trust one mistake is the failure to fully fund the trust. Upon on creation of the trust you will need to transfer substantially all of your assets into the trust. Even with a pour-over will, probate may be required in order to “pour-over” the assets of the decedent that are out side the trust at the time of death such as real property. Without a pour over will, assets not transferred to the trust prior to death will pass by intestacy requiring probate.
Irrevocable Trusts – Most of the time, revocable trusts become irrevocable upon the death of the first spouse. There are reasons to create an irrevocable trust which may include charitable contributions, further estate tax planning, protection of assets from creditors, or to fund corporate obligations. Further tax planning may be necessary and it is always advised that you speak with a financial planner and CPA as a vital part of your estate planning.
Simple Wills – If the husband and wife have combined assets with a value substantially less than the current estate tax exemption (2017 amount is $5.49M), and no minor children or others for whom trusts are needed, then a simple will may be sufficient. Assets of the estate are defined as the value of the property less encumbrances. This kind of will usually makes outright gifts to the surviving spouse, and after both spouses have died, in equal shares to children. If any of the beneficiaries are minors, a provision can be included creating a trust for anyone under or obtaining a particular age. If the estate assets are less than $66,000 for the year 2017, then a small estate affidavit may be sufficient to wrap up an estate after the surviving spouse has passed. If there is real property in the estate regardless of the combined value of the estate, probate will be necessary upon death of the surviving spouse.
Simple Wills with Contingent or Testamentary Trusts – If estate tax planning is still not needed and does not accomplish your goals, then wills with contingent or testamentary trust may be recommended. These wills still make outright gifts to surviving spouse and then to trusts for the children. The trusts may be written to provide for the children through their school years and into their adulthood through a variety of options such as monthly payments for their care or a percentage of the trust at various ages.
How often do I need to update my Estate Planning Portfolio?
It is a good idea to review your estate planing portfolio every 3 to 5 years. A lot can happen and changes or modifications may need to be made. Financial powers of attorney should be updated every 5 years as many financial institutions won’t take old forms.
I am divorced and remarried, does this affect my Will?
If you had estate planning documents drafted with your former spouse and have not renewed them any gifts or transfer of property will be treated as if your former spouse predeceased you. So, you should get new documents drafted to avoid any confusion and to ensure your estate planning needs are met with your new spouse. Blended families do create some interesting issues and may require some creative drafting.
I have pets, how will they be cared for if I pass away?
You can provide for your pets in your estate planning documents under an animal trust. This will give you the peace of mind that your furry loves will be properly cared for especially if you don’t have a willing and able family member to care for them.
My Mom just passed away, now what?
Please feel free to download the attached file. It has a checklist of what you need to do when a loved one passes away. If your mom was at a medical facility, in hospice, or at home the first call will vary. If she was at home and not on hospice you should call your local coroner or 911. After the initial matters of taking care of her body you can then start looking at the next issues of planning. One often overlooked matter is that if your loved one had a Will it should be filed with the court within 10 days of her passing.
Cale Kennamer specializes in:
- Water Law
- Business Law
- Estate Planning
Cale grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast, where he was fortunate enough to have a unique upbringing. Cale’s mother was an artist, photographer, English teacher, and a gymnastics and ballet instructor. His father was lawyer, a farmer, and an athlete. All of this rubbed off on Cale who grew up in the rice fields and the gym with his dad and tagging along with his mother on various art projects she would be working on while pursuing her masters degree in art. Cale also helped his mother rehabilitate orphaned raccoons through the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition.
Losing both of his parents at a young age (mother at 19 and father at 25) after having such close relationships with both of them taught Cale to truly value people and relationships and take no time for granted. These experiences strengthened his resolve and molded a compassion that he strives to deliver to each of his clients. One of his goals as an attorney is to apply these values to work everyday so that he can help people who are going through tough experiences and need someone on their side.
Outside of work, Cale enjoys learning about and experiencing nature and the outdoors. Cale is a member two zoos and is an avid animal lover. He has always spent as much time outside as possible. So, it was natural for Cale to fall in love with Colorado’s natural beauty. He traded the ocean for the mountains and moved here to live in and care for one of the most beautiful places in the country and its citizens. As a “transplant” he deems it extremely important to demonstrate his dedication to contribute Colorado and its people in a meaningful way, which his work at Columbine Law Group gives him the opportunity to do.
Cale spends as much of his free time as possible exercising or doing some type of outdoor recreation. Camping, backpacking, skiing, paddling, fly fishing – you name it, Cale wants to do it. He loves traveling to new places and experiencing different cultures.
Cale also loves baseball. He was lucky enough to have the opportunity to walk on the baseball team at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. Someday, in some function, he would love to get involved in athletics again.
Cale spent his law school years in Oklahoma City, OK where he attended Oklahoma City University School of Law. During this time, he interned at the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office and did an environmental internship at Conservation Law Foundation in Providence, RI. Cale also worked with his father to prepare SEC filings for a renewable energy startup seeking to construct solid waste recycling facilities across the country. Most recently, he worked at a large personal injury firm in Denver, CO.
Cale is very excited to bring this unique mix of experiences and his impassioned perspective to Columbine Law Group and looks forward to being a member a dynamic practice.
Cale is dual licensed in Colorado and Texas.
Johna Varty specializes in:
- Water law
- Environmental law
- Family law
- Employment law
Johna graduated from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2013 with a certificate in Natural Resources and Environmental Law. During law school, she was a member of the Editorial Board of the Water Law Review, publishing numerous scholarly writings related to water and environmental issues. Since graduating, Johna practiced oil and gas law for a couple years and then transitioned to a general law firm. She has experience in almost every area of civil law from business formation, contracts, and divorce to parenting plans, bankruptcy, and water permits.
Throughout her practice, she has learned that compassion and taking care of the whole client is often what is most important to a client. As an attorney, she loves that her representation can be a tool for a client towards building a better life for themselves. Towards that end, Johna takes immense pride in being both a zealous advocate for her clients and an educator who teaches her clients the framework they must operate in to be successful.
In her free time, Johna thoroughly enjoy many of the activities the Colorado outdoors have to offer. Her favorite hobby is rock climbing, but it would not be surprising to find her participating in triathlons, road cycling, ice climbing, snow shoeing or hiking with her adorable rescue dog, Peter Pickles Fuzzybottom.