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Denver Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Inheritance, probate and Colorado common-law spouses

Colorado is one of a handful of states that still recognize common-law marriages, which are relationships in which the partners agree to be married and hold themselves out as married even though they have not followed state-sanctioned marriage requirements. If the relationship meets the legal requirements for a common-law marriage, when it comes to inheriting property and other spousal rights after one of the partners has died, state law treats the common-law spouse the same as if they had said “I do” before an officiant and filed a marriage certificate with a Colorado county.

Equine-assisted therapy can benefit those with special needs

Riding and working with horses on the ground can greatly benefit people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as mental illnesses. So-called “equine-assisted therapy,” or EAT for short, has been found to benefit a range of mental and emotional conditions as well as some physical disabilities, reports Disability Scoop.

Why access to an iPhone should be part of estate planning

When was the last time that you wrote a message by hand on paper instead of sending a text? Where are your photos stored? Do you use two-factor authentication on accounts? Whether you have an iPhone or use android technology, your phone is basically a digital assistant. If your loved ones cannot get into it after something happens to you, they may lose access to online accounts and digital mementos.

A recent New York Times opinion piece addressed how much a phone matters. After the author lost her mother in a car accident, she and her sisters were unable to find or guess their mother’s iPhone password. This meant that even though they had found usernames and passwords for online accounts, they could not complete the two-factor authentication. The codes were being texted to her phone, which they could not access. Ultimately, taking out the SIM card allowed them to retrieve some data and access online accounts, but still not the phone’s memory.

A seat at the table for siblings of those with special needs

In June, the Sibling Leadership Network held its seventh national conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. The SLN is an organization that supports siblings of people with disabilities in advocating for their brothers and sisters with disabilities “across the lifespan” as well as providing information and support.

The Colorado Chapter of the SLN, called Sibling Tree, had a strong contingency at the conference. Sibling Tree has a wide variety of programs and activities for Colorado sibs of all ages.

Federal guardianship study on people with intellectual disability

Last week, the National Council on Disability, or NCD, an independent federal agency, released its second major report on guardianship for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, sometimes shortened to ID/DD. If we could pull an overarching theme from the report’s 100-plus pages, it may be that we need to step back as a country and take a hard look at whether guardianship is automatically the right protective device for a given person with ID/DD.

How special needs care has changed across one lifetime

Just a few decades ago, the care and respect that those with special needs received was far different. As recently as the 1960s, those with differing mental or physical abilities were all but incarcerated in bleak facilities receiving less-than-satisfactory care. Today, while there are still opportunities for improvements, the quality of the life and care has greatly improved.

A movement championed by Jean Vanier to bring dignity to those with special needs along with love and respect. Vanier, who according to The Economist recently died at the age of 90, was the founder of the L'Arche communities for people with disabilities in France.

Fatal falls on the rise for seniors

Researchers in a new study published in JAMA found a startling rise in the number of fatal falls among elderly people, according to The New York Times. We have written in this space about falls, most recently prompted by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s fall in her U.S. Supreme Court office.

Advance medical directives in Colorado: 3 things to know

As people age, the fears may become more and more real. Fears of dying surrounded by strangers in a healthcare facility or being strapped to medical machines that take away dignity and a sense of what makes life meaningful.

Advance medical directives help people face these fears by creating guidelines regarding the use of medical procedures. If you don't have such a document in place yet, or are helping your aging parent complete one, here are three important things to know.

Are handwritten wills valid in Colorado?

Estate planning can be tough to start. You may jot down some thoughts and wishes and then get distracted. It is important to recognize that handwritten (holographic) wills may not be legally binding and can lead to conflict.

Surprisingly, some well-known people have left nothing but a handwritten will. Aretha Franklin — known as the Queen of Soul — who passed away last year left no will. This left her family and friends confused and at odds about how to divide her massive estate and pay significant tax debt.

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