Why You Should Arrange Estate Planning in 2018

As you look ahead to the New Year, you might set new goals or make resolutions dealing with your health, wealth and happiness. But the start of the year is also a great time to get organized with estate planning. Sure, it’s great to save some money or make your first big parents reading to soninvestment with a new home. But you work hard to make that possible! So make sure you have a say in what happens to it if something happens to you. As K.P. Edwards wrote in “Financial Counseling and Planning,” “Estate planning has long been recognized as an important part of financial planning for families.”

Contrary to popular belief, you are never too young, too healthy or too single to have a will, and you don’t need to have kids to justify drafting one either. Continue reading “Why You Should Arrange Estate Planning in 2018”

Probation Litigation: Guardians, Conservators and Estate Issues

There is a common observance among lawyers: In family law, the parents fight over the children; in elder law, the children fight over the parents.

Cute girl blowing alphabet blocks while family looking at it in house

Sadly, this is often true and can lead to costly litigation. What starts out as a dispute among siblings as to whether a parent should reside with one of them can end up being a court case. When that happens, our firm is there to represent a party who wants to make sure his or her interests are protected. Continue reading “Probation Litigation: Guardians, Conservators and Estate Issues”

Why It’s Important To Talk End-Of-Life Before An Emergency

8.17.17.EndOfLife.Andersen.blog (1)The following is a guest post by Fran Myers who started a nonprofit called Advance Care Advocate to meet the needs of those without a health care advocate. She coaches families, acts as an agent (primary or secondary) and speaks for groups, organizations and churches. 

A teen I know shared that when her dad died suddenly, no one knew how to talk with her about it. Her friends didn’t know what to say. Her story highlights the fact that we really don’t do well at communicating about this phase of the life cycle no matter how old we are and how hurtful that is. Continue reading “Why It’s Important To Talk End-Of-Life Before An Emergency”

Where Does My Property Go If I Die Without a Will?

If you die without a will, your property goes where the state tells it to go. Being will-less is called being “intestate.” Each state has its own intestacy statutes that determine what happens to your estate when you have no will. What happens to my property if I don't have a will? Andersen Law PC explains

However, not all property is covered by these statutes (or included in a will if you have one). This property will transfer to whoever you name as beneficiary or to a surviving co-owner. This includes proceeds from a life insurance policy, property you have already transferred to a trust, retirement account funds, such as 401(k)s or IRAs, property owned in joint tenancy with someone else, real estate held by beneficiary deed or by transfer-on-death, payable-on-death bank accounts, and securities held in a transfer-on-death account. Continue reading “Where Does My Property Go If I Die Without a Will?”

How to Sign a Document Using ‘Power of Attorney’

Andersen Law PC - How to sign a document as agent pursuant to power of attorneyA financial or medical power of attorney is a legal document where one person (the “principal”) grants another person (the “agent”) the “power of attorney” to act on the principal’s behalf in certain cases. For example, a principal could grant an agent the power to act on their behalf, e.g.: withdraw money, sell property, etc. It’s important to have someone you trust as your agent under power of attorney, because this power generally starts immediately and not just once you are incapacitated.

If you have been granted the power of attorney, you may have to sign documents on the principal’s behalf. Colorado law does not specify how this signature must appear, but various organizations have listed the minimum requirements of signing while using your granted power of attorney: Continue reading “How to Sign a Document Using ‘Power of Attorney’”

What Single People Should Know About Estate Planning

Single adults who are not in a long-term relationship have unique estate planning concerns. If they are 18 and older, it usually makes sense for them to have estate planning documents in place.

Here are some common issues that come up for single people with estate planning. 8.3.16.EstatePlanning-For-Single-People.AndersenLawPC

YOUR DIVORCE: Colorado law automatically voids all appointments of and bequests to a former spouse in a will. It is critical that a divorced person prepares new documents that are wholly operational in this context. Continue reading “What Single People Should Know About Estate Planning”

Key Documents in Medicaid Planning

If a family member or you are looking into long-term care, you may have heard about Medicaid eligibility planning. Truly, the providers themselves are some of the foremost experts in this field as Medicaid is often how they are paid. 7.20.16.Andersen.MedicaidPlanning

And while a long-term care provider may be expert, that does not mean that you should take their word for it in terms of how to plan and whether to plan to become Medicaid eligible.

Think about it: Medicaid is a needs-based benefit and that means it is for people who are in POVERTY. So the bottom line is that when you plan to become eligible, or to make a family member eligible for Medicaid, you are impoverishing that intended recipient. This has its own consequences. For example, a provider may not tell you that you or your loved one will be moved to a less desirable room or a room with a roommate once eligible or transferred to a “Medicaid bed.” Continue reading “Key Documents in Medicaid Planning”

6 Must-Know Facts About Durable Power of Attorney

What is durable power of attorney? A durable power of attorney allows an agent to do things on your behalf. It’s important to understand what those things are and how durable power of attorney works. Here are six facts about durable power of attorney that are important to know. 7.13.16.Andersen-Law-PC.DurablePowerofAttorney

1. WHY YOU NEED A POWER OF ATTORNEY: Just so you know, you are far more likely to be disabled or incapacitated than you are to die anytime soon. So your power of attorney documents are just as important as your will. In fact, if you think about it, your power of attorney is more important to you personally than your will because you will actually be alive when your power of attorney is being acted upon. You may well be in a health care situation, hospice or under care at home while your agent acts on your behalf. So you want to have some say now on how you will be treated then. A power of attorney allows you to do this.

2. WHY NO ONE EVER IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY: First, some quick vocab so, going forward, you can show how smart you are by using the words “power of attorney” correctly. Do not go around calling yourself (or anyone) a “power of attorney.” The document is called the “power of attorney” and the person appointing the agent named in the document is called the “principal.” The person appointed to act on behalf of the agent pursuant to the power of attorney document is called the “agent.”

3. WHAT MAKES A POWER OR ATTORNEY “DURABLE”: The word “durable” comes into play because the agent is allowed to act even when the principal is incapable of acting. It continues to operate after the principal comes incapacitated.

4. WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR POWER OF ATTORNEY WHEN YOU DIE: A power of attorney operates when you are alive. Once you die, your power of attorney document no longer functions, and your last will and testament comes into play. If you do not have a will, then the laws of intestacy come into play. Powers of attorney are for people who are alive. When the principal dies, the agent’s authority to act ends too.

5. WHY YOUR AGENT HAS A RIGHT TO ACT ON YOUR BEHALF WHEN YOU ARE NOT INCAPACITATED: Many people think that they have something that is essentially a “springing” power of attorney that does not operate until a triggering act, such as the principal’s incapacity, happens. However, the standard durable powers of attorney do not need a triggering act. They are effective and give the agent power to act immediately upon signing, even when the principal is NOT capacitated and IS able to act on his or her own behalf. The reason for this is that an agent often needs to act right away. Waiting for a doctor to determine incapacity bogs things down and causes undue delay. It is more effective to allow the agent to act right away. The main thing is to choose an agent you trust and then trust that they will use their power in your best interest.

6. WHY YOU NEED TWO POWER OF ATTORNEY DOCUMENTS: The Colorado legislature created two different documents: the medical power of attorney and the financial power of attorney. This makes sense because you may not always want the same person to serve in financial and medical decision-making roles. Frequently, a person has one someone who is good at financial decisions and another person who is good at health care decisions. So too, you may not want your doctor to go over your financial power of attorney and may not want your banker reading all about your medical decisions. Two separate documents allow you to keep these discrete areas separate.

To learn more about durable power of attorney and how to ensure that your will and power of attorney documents are properly prepared, contact Andersen Law PC at 720-922-3880 or email me at beth@andersenlawpc.com.

Estate and Gift Tax: 12 Things Those Transferring Millions Should Know

When it comes to issues relating to family law and estate planning, it’s not usual to be unaware of how the system works until it’s your turn to be involved in it. And at times, particularly during an election cycle, gift and estate taxes are in the news with a lot of political arguments attached to them. But when these taxes affect you and your family, the facts are more important than the politics. So I wanted to share with you 12 facts about estate and gift taxes that you need to know when dealing with estate taxes and gift taxes. Estate-and-gift-tax.andersen.law.pc.5.2.16-2

  1. Estate tax and gift tax are different. Estate tax is a tax on transfers at the time of death. Gift tax is a tax on lifetime transfers. Colorado has not had an estate tax in over a decade. Other states may have an estate tax. Under federal law, transfer taxes occur on both combined IF they total over $5.67 million in a lifetime (over $11.34 million for married couples with portability).
  2. Estate and gift taxes are politicized. Congress changes these taxes over the years for different political reasons, so they are moving targets.
  3. Donor intent is irrelevant. In determining whether something is a gift, it does NOT matter whether the person intended to give a gift. If the parameters are met or not met, it is or is not a gift regardless of the intention of the donor.
  4. The identity of the beneficiary is irrelevant. It does not matter who the beneficiary is in determining whether there was a gift. It is simply that the owner retains the right to change the beneficiary that counts (see No. 5 below).
  5. The gross estate includes more than what you own. The gross estate includes all items owned at time of death plus items included by the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) such as life insurance, life estate transfers, the power to designate a recipient, transfers with retained powers, stocks given with retained voting rights, shell family “business” arrangements set up to avoid tax, revocable transfers, reversionary interests, reciprocal trusts, joint property, joint spousal interests, powers of appointment, annuities, qualified retirement plans and pensions. What do all these things have in common? The giver retains a power to make a change. So, when you think about it, the giver is also to an extent a “keeper” (retaining incidents of ownership) and therefore the items are rightfully included in the gross estate.Gifts made in contemplation of death are also included in the gross estate. The IRS wants to discourage death bed conveyances (within 36 months of dying.) However this has been chipped away at so now it generally only applies to life insurance as a practical matter.

Continue reading “Estate and Gift Tax: 12 Things Those Transferring Millions Should Know”