Your estate planning & administration goals within range.
Who will care for your children if you are unable to? Have you adequately planned for the disposition of your assets after your death, or for a situation where you are incapacitated and unable to make your wishes known? If you die without a will in Colorado, the court will distribute your assets according to Colorado statutes. This is a lengthy and sometimes painful process that no one wants to leave behind for their loved ones. In addition to providing declarations for how your assets should be distributed upon your death, an estate plan is a series of documents in which you provide instructions regarding your care if you are ever mentally or physically incapacitated.
Regardless of the size of your estate, the preparation of a good estate plan is a necessary, individualized process that requires working with a competent and experienced attorney. A pre-printed form or do-it-yourself website cannot close all the loopholes and account for your unique situation, which may cause problems for your beneficiaries to resolve in the courts after your death. A wisely drafted, carefully executed estate plan is a critical component of your wealth management.
You may need a simple will prepared or perhaps a more complex estate plan, such as a trust or a family limited partnership. In any event, we truly believe it is important for individuals to be proactive regarding their estate planning and make sure that there is clear direction for the care of minor children and distribution of assets. Not only does this provide peace of mind to you, but it also avoids uncertainty, stress and disagreements among surviving family members and friends during a time of loss and grief. Every situation is unique and we will ask questions and listen carefully to tailor an estate plan to your needs.
Swan Law, PC can help you structure your estate plan to provide both financial and personal benefits. A comprehensive plan will address the preservation and growth of your assets both while you are alive and for your beneficiaries after your death, and can include legal strategies to minimize tax liabilities.
In addition to financial benefits, a thorough estate plan includes documents such as powers of attorney and advanced medical directives that allow you to document and control decisions in the event that you are unable to make or communicate them yourself. The first step in designing a comprehensive estate plan is a careful analysis of your assets and the choices that you should consider in the event of incapacity and death.
If you have experienced the loss of a friend or family member, we can assist with the legal process that occurs when a loved one passes away. If your loved one passed away with or without a will, you will go through a process called probate. If your loved one had a living trust, you will go through a process called trust administration. There are several steps for you to take to administer the estate of the departed person. Our guiding principle is to provide you with quality trust administration and probate services tailored to your specific goals.
Our services include probate and trust administration as well as preparation of the following:
- Revocable living trusts (“RLT”)
- Financial power of attorneys
- Medical power of attorneys
- Do not resuscitate (“DNR”) directives
- Trusts and complex estate plans
- Guardianship and conservatorships
A will is the most common estate planning document. A will is a set of instructions directing when, how, to whom, and by whom a decedent’s property should be disposed of and their business affairs wrapped up, and may name a guardian for surviving dependents.
If you choose to use a will-based plan, remember that the will is only effective after death and does not allow for any disability planning while the will-maker is still alive. Therefore, a will-based plan will use power of attorneys and advanced medical directives to address incapacity issues.
Revocable living trusts
A revocable living trust (RLT), on the other hand, generally uses the living trust as the primary set of instructions for both disability and death. While an RLT may be sufficient to allow a trustee to gain control in order to protect your assets and pay for your care upon incapacity, it generally does not contain advance medical directives or grants of authority to make medical decisions, and therefore some powers of attorneys will likely also be used in this type of plan. In an RLT-based plan, you may also wish to execute a will called a “pour over” will, which directs any assets not properly titled in the name of the trust be transferred to your trust, and names guardians for minor children.
Advance medical directives
The five primary types of advance medical directives are:
- Living wills
- CPR orders and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders
- Medical or health care power of attorney
- Disposition of last remains declarations
- Organ and tissue donation declarations
An advance medical directive document may incorporate several of these directives. Signing an advanced medical directive does not take away your right to make medical decisions if you are able to do so, but allows your beliefs and decisions to be carried out when you cannot communicate them.
Business succession planning
One of your assets may be a business that you have an interest in. While it is sometimes appropriate to address business succession issues in typical estate planning documents, business succession, like the transfer of other assets, often depends on the structure of the business and the agreements related to the business. Therefore, business succession may be a component of your estate plan, but may be addressed separately from your personal assets.
While the most important feature of an estate plan should be peace of mind that your family has the proper tools to take care of you if you become incapacitated and to settle your estate in the most efficient manner, a comprehensive estate plan also includes tax planning. Estate tax liabilities can be reduced or eliminated through advanced estate planning techniques, and some estate plans may even reduce income tax liability during your life. We will work with you and your tax advisors to optimize your tax plan.
To discuss how we can help you achieve your estate planning goals, please call 970.879.1572 or contact us here here. We look forward to working with you!
*Jamie Brown, Mountain Expressions Photography, www.mountainexpressions.net