Estate planning is a coordinated approach between respected advisors in a number of fields including accounting, finance, insurance, and law. An estate plan is not just a will, it is a seamless synchronization of professionals and documents that help accomplish your goals, despite the uncertainty of your future health and wealth in an ever-changing tax environment. During the initial consultation, we sit down with clients to review their family structure, finances and future goals. Every client’s situation is unique, and that is why we take the time to explain and draft estate plans that reflect the intricacies of each individual’s specific needs. Our office takes the time to discuss the pros and cons of a large variety of estate planning tools at your disposal (e.g., wills, trusts, health care proxies, financial powers of attorney, advance medical directives, dispositions of last remains, beneficiary deeds, prenuptial agreements, and postnuptial agreement), so you can be confident that you and your loved ones are properly prepared for the future. Our plans are based on three fundamental concepts: 1) appointing the right agents, 2) providing your agents with pertinent information, and 3) avoiding probate.
Estate Plan Documents
These are some of the documents often utilized in a comprehensive estate plan. This list does not include all the estate planning documents that can be used. Please set up a free consultation by phone or in-person to learn more. In addition to our Denver, Colorado office, we also have office locations in the Denver Tech Center, Lakewood, Westminster and Boulder that are available upon request.
A will is the legal document that directs the disposition of your assets upon your death. This document needs to be both detailed and flexible to fully accomplish your goals, despite changing asset values and an uncertain tax environment. Your assets can be given directly to individuals or can be given to a trust. By fully documenting your wishes, you facilitate a smoother resolution of your affairs.
Personal Property Memorandum
This memo allows you to direct tangible assets to any beneficiary you choose, even after you sign your will. It is referenced in your will to add flexibility to your plan.
Financial Power of Attorney
Protecting your financial assets is an important consideration in the event you become incapacitated. A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint someone (your agent) to continue your financial affairs if you are unable to do so yourself. The person you appoint does not need to be a lawyer to fulfill this duty, just someone you trust to make sound and ethical day-to-day decisions on your behalf. Your agent has a responsibility to use your property for your benefit. For small business owners, this is an especially important document.
Advance Medical Directives (also known as a Living Will)
In addition to a medical power of attorney, your estate plan should include a living will. This is a legal document that informs your health care providers and family about your wishes with respect to life-prolonging medical treatment, including artificial nutrition and hydration. Without a living will, decisions of this nature can be very difficult and emotionally draining on your family and loved-ones. This document can also give named individuals (i.e., family or friends) access to your medical records.
Disposition of Last Remains
This document is used to make your intentions known with respect to the disposition of your body after you pass away (i.e., cremation/burial), and the type of service you would like (i.e., memorial/funeral).
Many people use revocable trusts to manage property after their death. Because the trust holds legal title to your property, it survives past your death. A trust of this nature should be strongly considered for those with young beneficiaries. Minors or beneficiaries who have recently reached the age of majority (18) often need protection from lump sum inheritances, and the age at which a beneficiary can responsibly handle large amounts of money may vary. Setting up a trust with a responsible trustee will ensure your beneficiaries will benefit from your estate for many years to come. If you have substantial retirement assets [401(k), 403(b) or IRA], a revocable trust that is set up to receive these assets should be strongly considered. If one of your beneficiaries has special needs, a supplemental needs trust may also be an appropriate option.
Guardianship Appointment for Minor Children
A guardianship appointment allows you to select a guardian for your minor children, in case you are unable to care for them yourself.
Beneficiary Deed or Transfer on Death Deed
These deeds allow for a seamless transfer of title to your real estate (e.g., home, timeshares) to your beneficiaries at your death, which avoids future time and costs.