Whether you recently were married and are planning to have children or are entering into your retirement years and have not yet considered your estate plan, it is extremely important to learn about estate planning in Denver.
While many people assume that estate planning is only for elderly people, wealthy individuals, or those with terminal illnesses, estate planning is important and necessary for almost everyone regardless of age and socioeconomic circumstance.
Do you have a will that clarifies how your assets will be distributed in the event of your death? Have you established what will happen to you if you are incapacitated or disabled? Have you determined who will be able to make decisions for you or your children if you are unable to make those decisions yourself?
These are just some of the questions that you should consider when you begin the estate planning process. If you don’t have a plan for those possibilities, your family and loved ones may be left with a very difficult situation. Few fights are more emotional and divisive than those between family during difficult emergency or loss.
To learn more about drafting a will, advance healthcare directives, disability planning, or establishing a trust for one or more of your family members, you should get in touch with an estate planning attorney in Denver as soon as possible. An attorney at the Law Office of Eric M. Edwards, LLC can discuss your options with you today.
Types of Estate Planning Issues We Handle for Clients in Denver
At the Law Office of Eric M. Edwards, LLC, we handle a wide variety of estate planning legal matters for our clients, including but not limited to the following:
- Drafting a will;
- Medical power of attorney;
- Financial power of attorney;
- Drafting advance directives or living wills;
- Creating trusts; and
- Assisting with the probate process.
Most estate planning matters arise under the Colorado Revised Statutes on Probate, Trusts, and Fiduciaries. From the early stages of drafting a will to handling any other matters, we are prepared to assist you. A Denver estate planning attorney at our firm can begin working with you on your estate planning needs. Most importantly, the advice of our attorneys can help you plan for possibilities you may not have even considered.
Drafting a Valid Will in Denver
One of the first and most common elements of estate planning in Colorado is drafting a will. If you die without drafting a will, you will die “intestate,” meaning without a will. In such circumstances, a person’s property is distributed according to Colorado intestacy laws, and the deceased’s wishes for property distribution will not be considered.
Under Colorado law, a valid will must have the following elements:
- Testator, or the person making the will, must be at least 18 years old;
- Will must be in writing—either handwritten or typewritten (oral wills, known as nuncupative wills, are invalid in Colorado); and
- Will must be signed by two competent witnesses.
In some states, a person’s will is considered valid only if it is typewritten. In Colorado, a handwritten will (also known as a “holographic will”) can be valid as long as it has been properly witnessed.
Wills in Colorado can do a number of things, from clarifying how the testator wants his or her property distributed to naming a guardian for minor children and naming an executor for the will.
The following are all things that a person can do in a will in Colorado:
- Leave specific property to particular persons or entities;
- Name beneficiaries for your accounts;
- Assign a guardian to care for your minor child or children;
- Name an adult to care for property that you are leaving to one or more of your minor children; and
- Name an executor or executrix who will carry out the terms of your will.
Denver Advance Directives and Living Wills
In addition to drafting a will that names beneficiaries for your property, another part of the estate planning process is considering your healthcare and advance directives.
Depending upon the state in which you live, estate planning documents related to healthcare and medical decision-making have different names or terms. In Colorado, you should know about the following options for planning for healthcare, which is an essential part of any estate plan.
Advance directive, or living will
This document, despite its name, does not have anything to do with the will that we discussed above in which you name beneficiaries for your property and assign a guardian for your minor children.
An advance directive or living will, rather, is a legal document that outlines what type of medical care you want to receive (or do not want to receive) in the event that you are incapacitated and cannot make the decision for yourself. For example, your living will might state that you do not want to receive certain life-sustaining measures, such as cardiopulmonary respiration (CPR), to be on a respirator, or to be on life support.
Medical power of attorney
In Colorado, a medical power of attorney is a person you name who is authorized to make healthcare decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated and cannot make these decisions for yourself.
In some states, this is known as a healthcare proxy, and in other states, it is discussed as a form of an advance directive. When you name a medical power of attorney, your Denver estate planning lawyer will create a document that clarifies the person named as your medical power of attorney as well as whether the person will only have the ability to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.
Trusts and Other Financial Matters Pertaining to Denver Estate Planning
In addition to a medical power of attorney, you should also discuss naming a financial power of attorney in the event that you become incapacitated. This person is someone you trust to make financial decisions for you if you become unable to make such decisions for yourself.
Another important part of estate planning is the creation of trusts. While trusts often are used by high asset individuals, trusts can also be incredibly important if you have children or other family members for whom you want to provide for financially in the event of your death but you want to specify when and how that money is distributed.
Some trusts can also be extremely useful for ensuring that your assets go to the right place even during your lifetime, allowing you to make certain tax-free gifts. There are many different kinds of trusts, including but not limited to:
- Revocable trusts;
- Irrevocable trusts;
- Charitable trusts;
- Constructive trusts; and
- Special needs trusts.
An estate planning Denver lawyer can answer your questions about trusts today.
Contact a Denver Estate Planning Lawyer
Do you need assistance with estate planning? A dedicated estate planning lawyer in Denver can help you with your estate planning needs. Contact the Law Office of Eric M. Edwards, LLC to learn more about the services we provide to Denver residents and their families.