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Denver Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Part III: Transferring property to a trust

In our series on trust basics, we have talked about formation documents as well as the different types of trusts and their purposes. Once you have completed all the up-front work and have a trust, you must fund it.

Tied in with funding a trust may be the need to obtain a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) from the IRS. This TIN allows the trust to open financial accounts and file stand-alone tax returns. Requesting this number is as easy as completing Form SS-4 and returning it to the IRS.

Portability & Estate Tax: What it is and why it's important?

Colorado does not levy a state tax on your estate and the federal estate tax exemption is currently $5.49 million per individual in 2017, so why consider filing an estate tax return? Portability. This provision in the tax code allows for the transfer of any unused portion of the exemption to a surviving spouse.

What many do not fully understand is that this transfer does not occur automatically. To carry over a deceased spouse's unused portion of the exclusion (DSUE) you have to tell the IRS you want this after the first spouses passes away. The deadline to request estate and gift tax portability has recently been extended from nine months to two years. In this post, we will offer an example to illustrate how portability works.

Part II. Types of trusts: What’s in a name?

The names of various trusts may sound like another language. Others may make you feel like you are lost in acronym soup, CRT, ILIT or a TSNT.

Even the length of the trust instrument itself can vary based on your needs. One beneficiary might mean it is simple and short. Or it could be a lengthy document if an complex investment portfolio is funding the trust. In this second post in our series on trusts, we want to discuss some of the different types of trusts available in Colorado.

Trust formation basics: Part I

Some of the misperceptions about trusts are that they are too burdensome or expensive. In many situations they provide a cost-effective vehicle to plan for the needs of a surviving spouse and smoothly transfer assets to the next generation.

How do you determine whether a trust would be beneficial? In this series of posts, we will look at the role a trust can play in a comprehensive Colorado estate plan. Additionally, we will cover important basics of trust formation and administration.

Dual income, no kids: 3 Estate plan essentials

Families have changed since the 1950s when the dream included a stay-at-home spouse and two or three children. Fast forward to 2017 and more variety exists in the shape and size of an ideal family. 

For more couples with a focus on dual careers, fertility issues or innumerable other factors, children are not a part of the plan. Women with university and graduates degrees are less likely to have children that those with only high school diplomas according to YaleGlobal.

Memorial Day: Remember loved ones, but plan for the future

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who died serving our country. Its history dates back to 1868 when sacrifices made by soldiers in the Civil War were commemorated. It follows an tradition of decorating (originally called Decoration Day) the graves of loved ones with wreaths, flowers and flags.

The meaning of a holiday can be lost as it becomes only time off work and the official start of summer. As we remember those who have passed, we also want to address an ancillary part of an estate plan that can have a lasting impact.

Few have written down their end-of-life treatment wishes

In April, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation announced survey findings regarding opinions and experiences about end-of-life care and aging. In coordination with The Economist, they poled people in the US and three other countries.

Some of the U.S. findings are startling. For example, only one-quarter of those asked had put their preferences for end-of-life medical treatment in writing. 

Of the three-quarters who had not written down their end-of-life treatment wishes, half said they just had not "gotten around to it" and one-quarter had not "considered it."

Estate planning and trusts that account for fur babies

They become a part of the family and often stay at home longer than the human children. Whether one of the most popular breeds such as a Labrador retriever, German Shepherd or a mixed rescue, the ASPCA estimates that 44 percent of households have a dog. And cats, bunnies and birds are important members in others.

These fur babies need to be considered in the estate planning process. This will ensure that they remain healthy and happy after you are no longer able to provide care anymore.

Questions to answer before finalizing a power of attorney

Financial powers of attorney allow another person (an agent) to transact business on your behalf, including withdrawing money from your banking account or selling property. While simple in concept, it can be easy to make mistakes when using standardized forms.

A written power of attorney (POA) must be signed and notarized by you (the principal). A financial institution can generally rely that a copy of a properly executed POA is valid. The rest of our blog will cover some questions to consider about the details, including scope, who to name as agent and how a POA terminates.

Colorado ranks 2nd as retirement destination

Mild winters and year-round accessibility to parts and trails throughout the Rocky Mountains are some of the reasons listed by CNN in its ranking of best states to retire. In addition, Bankrate finds that Colorado residents are some of the happiest with great access to healthcare.

Is there any downside in relocating to Colorado for retirement? The cost of living has been increasing as more people move to the state. In looking at retirement, estate planning is a crucial component of the process.

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