Q. What is Estate Planning?
A. Estate planning is planning for life and death. First, you establish your current relationships and financial situation. Second, you establish a plan, allowing you to be in control of important decisions in your life, such as who will care for your medical needs and financial needs should you become unable to care for them on your own; how long you’d like to be on life support; who will raise your children if you cannot; who will manage all of these important decisions when you die and where you want your assets to go and how you want them to be utilized before and after death.
Q. Do I need a Will?
A. Yes. Everyone should have a Will regardless of how much assets you own. A Will does more than devise assets. It names a personal representative to handle the affairs upon your death. If you have minor children, you can appoint a guardian to care for your minor children. You can also create Trusts through a Will to establish how assets will be utilized. A Will is essential for every adult.
Q. Are Wills filed anywhere after executed?
A. No. A will is a private document. It is not filed with any agency or court until after death. After death it is lodged with the Court.
Q. What is a Trust?
A. Trusts hold assets for the benefit of someone or something. There are many different types of trusts that accomplish many different goals and have different tax and implications. Call for a free consultation to learn more.
Q. Should I create a Trust?
A. That depends on what you are trying to achieve. There are many agencies pushing unnecessary trusts onto people. If your situation does not require a trust and one is created anyway, it could cause more harm than good. Trusts can help to provide a gift over time. For example, allowing a sibling to live in a house that you own for his lifetime. Trusts can also help insulate liability. A properly created Trust should be easily managed and relatively inexpensive to create. Caution - there are companies that sell “life planning” packages through law firms. The law firm receives incentives from the company for selling the company's packages. These packages are generally extremely over-priced and over-abundant. Law firms like to market these products at“workshops,” where consumers are encouraged to purchase life planning packages. Generally these firms will not allow you to purchase just one estate planning option.
Q. How do I pick an honest and competent attorney to draft my estate planning documents?
A. Avoid law firms that only do estate planning. By avoiding the actual practice of utilizing the documents, these firms miss out on a lot of real world experience that should be utilized when drafting these documents. Also a firm that only provides estate planning will not be able to help you when it comes time to use the documents created. Avoid law firms selling a packaged plan trademarked by some other company. Avoid law firms that will only sell you an entire estate plan, refuse to provide any a la carte estate planning options. Call around for price quotes and pick a firm with a reasonable price.
Q. Should I just download estate planning documents off the internet or purchase it in a package at an office supply store?
A. Simple, NO. Colorado law provides specific forms and language to be used in estate forms. The laws change frequently. An estate plan should accommodate your specific needs.Always have these documents drawn up by a competent attorney. Avoid attorneys trying to push a bundled package from another company.