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Denver Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Honoring and protecting family members with autism

At Chayet & Danzo LLC, one of our foremost professional goals is to help families with children or other relatives who have autism or other intellectual or developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome or Fragile X syndrome. We provide guidance and legal services to these clients to help them protect their loved ones in areas of legal, financial, physical and personal vulnerability. 

The New York Times recently covered the moving photojournalism project of Erin Lefevre, the sister of a young man with autism. The project, called “Liam’s World,” is a series of photos of her brother with captions that he writes.

Techniques to improve physical condition and prevent elder falls

Many of the clients at our law firm come here because they are concerned about their aging parents. Problems can range from physical frailty to declining cognitive ability that can bring challenges in self-care and personal safety as well as open them up to other vulnerabilities

Some adult children know that their parents want to be as independent as possible as long as they can safely do so. This often means a family goal of keeping the parent in as independent a living situation as possible without compromising safety.

Part 2: What does a Colorado personal representative really do?

Today we will talk about what a Colorado personal representative does to administer the estate he or she has been appointed to handle. Last week, we talked about the fiduciary duties of a personal representative, including duties of loyalty, care and impartiality toward the deceased, heirs and beneficiaries, the court, creditors, government authorities, interested parties, creditors and involved professionals. 

But what are the actual tasks that an executor must complete while acting as a fiduciary? Probating an estate involves gathering detailed information, adherence to legal and court requirements, meeting deadlines, completing legal documents and more.

Part 1: What is the role of a Colorado personal representative?

The short answer to this question is that a personal representative is the person the court appoints to administer the estate of a deceased person. A valid will may control the estate or if none exists, according to the Colorado intestacy laws. 

At our law firm, we handle many types of representation related to the role of the personal representative, sometimes called an executor, in Colorado: 

  • Helping a client decide who is the preferred choice to appoint as a personal representative in a will, whether a relative, family friend or professional
  • Advising a personal representative on what his or her fiduciary duties and legal responsibilities are in administering an estate, including duties, document completion and filing, and deadlines
  • Analyzing what legal remedies an interested party might have if he or she suspects that a personal representative may have failed to meet his or her responsibilities or breached his or her duties
  • Representing a family member, beneficiary, heir or interested party in a lawsuit to remove or otherwise challenge the wrongful actions of a personal representative
  • Defending a personal representative against allegations of wrongdoing in a lawsuit

3 considerations for creative types in estate planning

Musicians, artists, writers, photographers and other creative types often miss an opportunity to have a say in what happens with their work by overlooking estate planning. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who died of pancreatic cancer Aug. 16, did not complete a will or trust even though her entertainment lawyer spent several years recommending that she set up a trust.

Dying without a will (intestate) requires probate and Colorado law decides inheritance issues. The value of an estate and any disputes among extended family members also become public. You can avoid this by planning for the future care of your work.

More NextFifty Initiative grants to help aging Coloradans

Our founding attorney Marco Chayet serves on the board of directors of an important Denver nonprofit dedicated to the well-being of Colorado elders. In a previous post, we told you about the NextFifty Initiative, also called NFI, an organization dedicated to funding a variety of initiatives to improve the lives of Colorado seniors, defined as the second 50 years of life. 

Mr. Chayet is uniquely qualified to serve in this capacity, being one of the premier elder law attorneys in the state.

Escape from the Mayo after disagreements about treatment

Last year, a clash between doctors and a young woman and her family culminated in an escape/abduction. The family framed it as an escape, the hospital as an abduction and reported it to local law enforcement.

This highlights a growing trend of patients leaving hospitals against the wishes of their doctors. Breakdowns in the doctor-patient relationship and questions about capacity and who makes treatment decisions can all lead to conflict.

Unanticipated medical expenses and estate planning: 5 FAQs

Being retired and having assets to pass along is fortunate. But large, unexpected medical expenses can really start to drain even the most well-managed wealth.

What steps should you consider in order to prevent this from happening? In this post, we will use an FAQ format to discuss five key points.

3 reasons you might challenge a will

According to a recent CNBC report, estate taxes are surprisingly not the biggest threat to estate plans – families are. The reasons for this follow familiar patterns of human conflict: miscommunication, unrealistic expectations and a history of family drama. Even so, there are times when legitimate concerns about a will or estate plan need to be examined and possibly addressed via probate litigation. Here are three reasons why you might want to challenge a will.

Elder Abuse: How many are affected and who are the abusers?

The National Council on Aging reports that approximately one in ten seniors over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse. The term itself is very broad and encompasses physical, sexual or emotional abuse along with financial exploitation, neglect and abandonment. What are some of the warning signs?

To identify elder abuse, it is important to know who is often behind it. Sadly, in 60 percent of elder abuse and neglect cases, the person responsible is a family member – often an adult child or their spouse. Staff at assisted living or nursing homes may also be the perpetrators.

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