Life has a funny way of being unpredictable. We never know what will happen, which is precisely why we must be prepared for anything. Many people neglect to prepare one very important item: planning their estate.
Estate planning is a crucial preparation to ensure your property, wealth, and assets go to the right people when the time comes. Estate planning also ensures that your property is transferred with the least amount of cost and time. It involves difficult decisions about finances and the disbursement of your property and assets. While anyone can write a Will or Trust, 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.
Burnham Law attorneys are backed by the experience and legal knowledge you need to plan your estate successfully. An expert estate planning attorney in Fort Collins, CO, can help you create a comprehensive plan to cover 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
A Will or Trust are two of the most widely known and also some of the most important parts of an estate plan. These document the decision as to how the property of the individual is to be distributed. Having a Will or Trust in your plan will ensure that the assets you leave behind will be distributed or disposed of according to your wishes while reducing costs and time.
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 distributions 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. If you are designating beneficiaries who are minors or who are incapacitated, there may need to be a guardian to manage the asset or a Trust. If you don’t name a beneficiary, the court will decide to whom your assets will go by following Colorado’s intestate laws. These are laws created by the Colorado legislature that decide where and to whom your property is given.
Designation of Guardianship
If you have minor children, 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 or special needs children. It’s important to pick a guardian who will take care of them when you pass. Otherwise, the court will solely decide who should care for your children.
Disposition of Last Remains
The disposition of last remains tells your personal representative how you wish for your body to be handled after your death, and what funerary or memorial services you request. This can help your family or loved ones to decide arrangements more efficiently.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is the authority you give someone to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so, before your death. 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. The healthcare power of attorney may include your instructions for dealing with a terminal condition or long-term incapacity.
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 for your situation.
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 in 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 your assets distributed in a way you wouldn’t like or approve.
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 goals. We recommend reviewing and revising your estate plan whenever a major life change occurs, or at least every five years. Major life changes include a change in marital status, having children, a new job, a new home, or children reaching adulthood.
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.
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.
On the other hand, income taxes can be deducted from certain assets 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. This may require making business continuity plans, including who should make business decisions.
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 determine the guardian(s), which means that they may assign guardianship to a family member who 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 leave 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. 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 Colorado can help you create an estate plan that is tailor-fit 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 have the experience and expertise in 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 the probate process, contact our Colorado estate planning attorneys for a consultation.