Life has a funny way of being unpredictable. We never know what will happen, which is precisely why we have to be prepared for everything. Many people miss out on preparing one very important item: planning their estate.
Estate planning is a crucial preparation that you need to make as early as possible to be sure that your property, wealth, and assets go to the right people when the time comes. Although anyone can write a will or trust, estate planning is not as easy. It involves difficult and sensitive decisions about your finances and the disbursement of your property and assets. There’s more to an estate plan than meets the eye.
That’s why you need an estate planning lawyer who is aware of all the legalities behind estate planning law. Our lawyers are backed by the experience and legal knowledge you need to plan your estate successfully. An expert Burnaham Law estate planning attorney in Fort Collins, CO can help you create a comprehensive plan, which includes the most critical decisions, including:
- Asset management
- Asset protection
- Division of assets
- Estate disposition
- Healthcare decisions
- Retirement plan
- Tax considerations
Essential Estate Planning Documents You Must Have
Will and Trust
One of the most widely-known and also the most important part of an estate plan, a will or trust is the decision as to how the property of the individual drafting it is to be distributed. Having a will or trust in your plan will ensure that the assets you left behind will be distributed or disposed of according to your wishes while avoiding probate court costs.
It sounds easy enough to draft a will or trust. But a lot of people make critical mistakes in doing so. This results in unclear disbursements and potential legal battles for your beneficiaries. So a will or trust must be written clearly and should be consistent with all bequeathments made outside the will.
Designation of Beneficiaries
Your will should designate the beneficiaries of your assets clearly so that your estate will be distributed in the manner you want. The beneficiaries that you name should be over 21 years of age and mentally competent to qualify.
If you don’t name a beneficiary or name one who isn’t qualified, the court will decide to whom your assets will go.
Designation of Guardianship
More than dictating how your assets and properties should be distributed, your estate plan should also include a guardianship clause. This is especially true if you have minor children. It’s important to pick a guardian who will take care of them when you pass. Otherwise, the court will decide.
Letter of Intent
The letter of intent is where you tell your executor or beneficiary what you want them to do with your assets and properties after you pass away. It’s where you set your intentions with regards to your estate. Some people also include their funeral wishes in their letter of intent.
Durable Power of Attorney
A power estate planning of attorney is the authority that you give someone to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. Among the things that they have authority to do on your behalf include, but are not limited to:
- Entering into financial transactions
- Making legal decisions
- Transacting real estate
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Similar to a durable power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney also gives the person of your choosing the authority to make decisions on your behalf. But this authority is limited to healthcare decisions when you are incapacitated to do so.
How An Estate Planning Law Firm in Fort Collins, CO Can Help
Planning your future sounds like an easy enough thing to do. But sometimes, it can be difficult to decide which direction you should take. Estate planning can be overwhelming, especially if you are uncertain about how it works or are not sure about the best decisions to make.
You have to consider so many things, such as the management and distribution of assets, disposition of the estate, guardianship, and so much more. But a lot of Fort Collins residents tend to neglect other crucial parts of estate planning.
That’s why it’s important to be backed by a Fort Collins estate planning attorney who knows the ins and outs of estate planning and who can assist you in developing a plan tailored to your specific needs. Burnham Law is a full service estate planning firm serving clients of all types including business owners, families, and professionals. Our lawyers in Fort Collins, Colorado have a wide range of tools and methods to ensure that you create a sound plan for your future. Contact us today to talk to our expert legal team.
Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid
Not Creating a Sound and Proper Plan
Estate planning is more than just about knowing what you want for your future. It involves hard and crucial decisions about your assets and properties and how you want them to be distributed.
As early as their twenties, people need to be thinking about creating their will. No one knows when their end is, and by putting off your estate planning, you risk not being ready and having their assets distributed in a way they wouldn’t like.
Not Updating Your Estate Plan
From the time you create your estate plan to the time it actually comes into effect, a lot of things can happen. Thus, it’s important that people keep looking back into their estate plans and create changes to align with new circumstances or new goals.
Not Planning for Retirement, Disability, and Long Term Medical Care
Estate plans do not only come into play when someone passes away. Plans for retirement, disability, and long term medical care should also be considered. Make sure you have a clause in your estate plan about disability insurance and retirement planning, plus how you want to receive and fund them.
Not Considering Estate and Income Tax
An estate is subject to tax, and most people forget to take it into account. This is one of the factors that a competent lawyer will make sure to consider. That way, you know about all the tax considerations you need to make.
Income taxes, on the other hand, can be deducted from certain assets that you leave for your heirs. Without considering this, you may cause chaos for your beneficiaries’ tax situation. Talk to your lawyer in Fort Collins so that you know how to manage your taxes and create tax-free growth for your estate.
Lack of Liquidity
Asset liquidity becomes extra important when your estate needs to be divided among several people. You need to have enough liquidated assets to easily and fairly distribute. If you have a business, your named beneficiary should have immediate access to funds that can help them run your business.
Asset liquidity helps speed things up and prevents further complications. Speak to your estate planning attorney in Fort Collins, CO about how much liquidity makes sense for your unique situation.
Not Determining Guardianship
Many people tend to overlook guardianship clauses when planning their estate. But if you have minor or special needs children and dependents, it’s important to arrange who you want to become the guardian of your kids when you pass away.
Without a guardianship clause, the court will be the determinant of guardianship, which means that they may assign guardianship to a family member that you don’t trust. It’s important that you make the decision as to who you want to look after your kids.
Other than naming a guardian, you should also determine how the guardian should spend the money you left for your children. Setting clear instructions will help them use the money according to your wishes.
Not Having an Estate Planning Lawyer
Estate planning is more overwhelming than it seems. There are so many things that you have to consider and decide on. A lot of people make crucial mistakes when creating an estate plan, especially if they do not have a professional guiding them through it.
Don’t risk creating an improper estate plan and creating complications for your beneficiaries and heirs. Regardless of whether or not you have complex financial situations, it’s always best to meet with a Fort Collins estate planning lawyer so that you have the guidance necessary to create a sound plan.
Contact Our Fort Collins Estate Planning Lawyers Today
There is no clear-cut standard for creating an estate plan. Although there are recommended clauses, non-negotiables, tips, etc., your estate plan will depend on your unique situation. You need to consider all aspects of your life when creating your plan. But because of the vast number of things you need to have in mind, it’s understandable that it can get overwhelming.
Our estate planning lawyers in Fort Collins, Colorado can help you create an estate plan that is tailor-fitted to your unique situation. We can help you make the hard decisions and develop a plan that meets your needs and goals.
Our lawyers in Fort Collins metro area have the experience and expertise on all aspects of estate planning — whether it be creating a will or trust, navigating and managing a complex estate planning process, creating a power of attorney, compiling and fixing healthcare documents, planning for long-term health care, etc.
We here at Burnham Law can give you insights and individualized instructions so that you can rest assured that your estate plan reflects your wishes and meets your goals. Our mission is to help you create a strong legal foundation to protect yourself and your family members for present and future endeavors. If you or your loved ones need help with wills, trusts, or probate process, contact our Colorado estate planning attorneys for a free consultation.