Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process where families develop a plan to ensure that the assets they have accumulated during their lifetime are protected at their death and are distributed as they choose.

At Chayet & Danzo, LLC, we offer a full range of estate planning services to meet the varied needs of our clients. If you are interested in scheduling a free consultation at our Denver office, please call us at 303-872-5980 or 888-472-1088.

Estate Planning Services

We offer assistance in the following:

We also provide comprehensive legal advice to our clients in the areas of:

  • Home and asset protection planning
  • Medicaid and disability planning
  • Long-term care planning

How Do I Know If I Need An Estate Plan?

1. You have no plan in place. If you don't have a will or a trust, the state of Colorado has written a will for you. Will this one size-fits-all plan, that doesn't really fit anyone, work for your family? Will your estate be subject to litigation in order to decide who gets your property?

2. You have minor children. If anyone whom you wish to leave money is under the age of 21, they will be unable to inherit your money in Colorado without the court appointing a conservator to make decisions for the minor. If this occurs, court costs can eat up a lot of a child's inheritance. There is also the issue that money the minor may need to live on will be tied up for a lengthy period of time. And finally, the children will receive the money at age 21, which can be the worst possible time to give a child a large sum of money. We can also help you with guardianship issues related to minors involved in the probate process. The probate attorneys in our firm are routinely appointed as guardians ad litem by the courts or requested to hold this position by family members.

3. You have a taxable estate. The amount you can inherit free of taxes is currently scheduled to increase gradually until 2010 when, ultimately, if there is no change in the current law, there will be no estate tax. Estate tax rates are roughly 45 percent. They apply to both single and married individuals.

4. You or a close family member is over age 45, terminally ill, has failing health or may become incapacitated. If you, or a close family member, are older than age 45 or are terminally ill or incapacitated, you will not be able to make decisions on your behalf or unless you plan ahead. If you have not dictated who can make decisions for you and when they can make the decisions for you, you are again doomed to the court making that decision for you.

5. Either you or your spouse has children from a previous marriage. When spouses have children by a previous marriage, one spouse's children may get left out, or conflict may arise between step-spouse and the stepchildren, between the children, or between the parents.

6. You are self-employed or own rental property. If you are self-employed or have rental property, keep in mind that there is significant time delay before a personal representative is appointed to care for rental property or your business in your absence. Essentially, there will be a period of time when your rental property and/or business has to go on autopilot.

7. You have a child who may not be responsible or is married to someone who may not be responsible. Do you have inheritance protection for a child who may be subjected to a spendthrift spouse, divorce, lawsuits, creditors or bankruptcy? Do you have a child who has a problem with shopping impulse control? If so, there is a way that you can control and minimize this risk through proper planning. Keep in mind that the average inheritance, regardless of size, is completely spent within 18 months of receipt.

8. You have an IRA or a 401(k) account. Retirement accounts are almost never coordinated with an individual's estate plan, which could result in a tax problem. It is important to put the planning in place to ensure that these plans continue to grow tax deferred for future generations to come.

9. You own joint tenancy property. If one joint owner becomes mentally disabled, the property may become frozen. Property may also pass to unintended persons at death. Any person who ends up with the property after the passing of a joint owner may also find themselves inheriting a huge tax liability. You may also be exposing your property interest to unintended creditors.

10. You have a disabled child or are responsible for a dependent adult. Disabled children and dependent adults require special planning to ensure that they are not going to lose any public assistance or benefits that they are currently receiving.

11. You have only a simple will in place now. Simple wills are not appropriate for everyone. Used improperly, a simple will can lead to major problems, including subjecting someone to unnecessary estate tax. Even a simple will may fail if you have not properly titled your property. Joint ownership may also cause a will to fail.

12. You have an old estate plan in place or have a plan from another state. The average estate plan has not been updated in 19.6 years. Consider all the changes in your life and in the law that have occurred during that period of time. Your plan should be reviewed and potentially updated every three to five years. And, it should be updated to reflect the laws of the state where you currently live. If you have moved from another state, there will most likely be numerous substantial changes that should be made to your plan.

Top 10 Reasons To Update Your Estate Plan

  1. To ensure that your children will be cared for by the person(s) who are most qualified to raise them in your absence.
  2. To make sure that your surviving spouse/partner will be adequately provided for.
  3. To avoid probate.
  4. To minimize estate taxes and generation-skipping transfer taxes.
  5. To name qualified people to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
  6. To document your wishes with regard to end-of-life care.
  7. To protect your children's inheritances from creditors and failed marriages.
  8. To reduce the likelihood of family squabbles after your death.
  9. To provide funding to your favorite charity at your death.
  10. To provide or care for your pets.

We have provided clients all over Colorado with customized estate planning service tailored to meet each individual's needs. Contact us today to see how we can help you. We offer free initial consultations at our Denver and Edwards offices. We can also help people located in California who have legal matters in Colorado through our affiliation with Blanchard, Krasner & French in California.