Estate planning is so important because it legalizes all of the most important decisions you can make regarding your family and property once you are gone as well as how you want to be cared for in an emergency.
Estate planning has become my favorite part of my practice. You may be thinking, Ugh, I don’t want to think about my death. Push pause on that one. Hit the snooze button.
Well, no. Don’t. The time to get this done is actually now.
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”
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.
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?”
When you think it might be time for you and your significant other to consider a will or other estate planning options, there are several important questions that you’ll likely have. Below are 10 of the key questions you should consider when you’re preparing wills and estate planning. Continue reading “10 Key Questions for Couples Preparing Wills & 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.
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”
When it comes time for couples to consider estate planning, there are several aspects of it that must be looked at and decided on. Below are 16 points of estate planning that you and your spouse may need to address, depending on your situation.
Preserving the Estate on the Second Death: If a spouse changes their will on a second marriage, it is possible that the children of the first marriage will not get anything. This happens because the first spouse’s children from a prior marriage did not inherit; their parent’s spouse got everything. That person may well remarry and leave everything to their new spouse, not to their stepchildren from a prior marriage. To avoid this problem, communicate, use a marital agreement, use life insurance, consider QTIP trusts.
Life Insurance: You may want to get a life insurance policy to protect your children from a prior marriage, naming them or a trust protecting them if they are minors, as the beneficiary of that policy. This way you protect “yours” from the scenario set forth in No. 1. Continue reading “Yours, Mine & Ours: Estate Planning for Married Couples”
Oftentimes, people don’t think about estate planning until they’re married. But the reality is that estate planning is just as important — and in some instances more important — when you are in a relationship but not married and especially if you are not planning to be married. Here are eight reasons why estate planning is important for unmarried couples.
1. Giving Each Other the Right to Inherit: In many unmarried relationships, neither partner is entitled to inherit under the Colorado laws of intestacy. This means that if either of you dies without a will, all property that passes through probate will go to any current spouse, children of the deceased, parents of the deceased then siblings (that is a general summation). You’ll notice that romantic partner is not on this list. If you want to protect your partner, you need a will to do it.
2. Defining Whether You are Married: In Colorado, you may be “common law” married without even knowing it. This is an issue of fact in Colorado and a short consultation is the best way to go over the facts in your case. If you are at risk of being common law married without having the intention to be married, a cohabitation agreement is in order. Remember that if you are “married,” then you have rights to inherit. Continue reading “Why Estate Planning is Critical for Unmarried Couples”
I believe in people drafting their own legal documents but NOT their own wills using online programs and forms. As much as I want to empower people to take ownership and participate in their legal issues, I find this option to be a horrible disaster. And I have good reason for saying this: I have seen the absurd and unfortunate results of poorly drafted wills that are often unenforceable or lead to results that are the opposite of what the drafter intended.
Here are some of the unfortunate results I have seen when people tried to probate wills they drafted themselves:
– A will intended to leave real estate to the children and grandchildren but actually required that the real estate be sold.
– A will that gave all property to the party’s ex-spouse’s children when the intention was to exclude them.
– A will that mixed up the husband and wife’s names.
– A will that might be unenforceable in the event of simultaneous deaths due to both parties allegedly predeceasing each other.
– Many wills that were unenforceable due to improper witnessing.
Our estate planning package is highly affordable: $500 for a testamentary will with a springing trust for any children or grandchildren, medical durable power of attorney, financial power of attorney and living will. The same package is only $750 for a couple. This includes an initial meeting, supervised signing of the estate planning documents with objective third party witnesses provided by our arrangement, and a follow up re-signing in the event you want to make small changes. This is a price point many people can afford and helps ensure your estate planning accomplishes what you REALLY hope to achieve.
Thinking about death and leaving loved ones behind is never easy and is unfortunately, something that many people put off because it’s just not a pleasant thought. But it is important and something people have been facing through the writing of wills since the earliest days of written history, according to the American Bar Association. Writing a will is imperative to easing the stress on your family as much as possible if something should happen to you, and it can give everyone (yourself included) peace of mind knowing there is a plan in place.
Done correctly, wills go far in ensuring that your assets are directed where you want them to be and that any possible disputes between surviving family members are minimized because all matters of your estate are clearly addressed.
When you’ve decided that it’s time to prepare a will, here are a few things to consider:
- What type of funeral do you want?
- Who will manage your money, debts and health care decisions?
- What will happen to your home?
- Who will care for your children and what are those caregivers’ names and addresses?
- What are your main assets?
- Are there gifts of personal property you want to leave to specific people?
Estate planning, including not only wills, but trusts and living wills are a specialty of mine, and I offer these packages at an affordable rate of $500 per person or $750 per couple. I encourage you to please contact me if you’d like to learn more.