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.