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Denver Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Two years later still interpreting Prince’s wishes

Hard to believe as it is, the artist passed away two years ago in April 2016. In the meantime, his home at Paisley Park has been turned into a public museum. And his $100 to $300 million-dollar estate is still being fought over by a sibling and half-siblings.

In his former home, there is now a gift shop, restaurant and party space operated by a company that also oversees Graceland. Cell phones are forbidden on the tour, the same as when he was alive, and the restaurant is vegetarian just like Prince was.

What is the top threat to an inheritance?

A poll by TD Wealth asked attorneys, trust officers and accountants this very question. Their answer was family conflict – nearly half were on the same page that this is the biggest threat.

Modern families come in many shapes. Blended families may include children from prior marriages/relationships and ex-spouses. One spouse may be much younger than the other. These are just a few of the scenarios that can complicate estate planning. CNBC reports on three issues that cause issues and tension when it comes to inheritance.

Medicaid eligibility income and asset limits in 2018

When a family is spread out across the country with parents in Colorado and children in Boston and San Francisco, who provides additional care for mom and dad? When is it time to investigate assisted living or nursing home options?

For these types of families, it requires open and honest communication. When family care is not an option, it is also crucial to get answers about nursing home costs in Colorado and Medicaid eligibility. Advance planning is necessary, because any gifts made within 60 months (five years) of applying for Medicaid are closely scrutinized.

Business succession considerations for Colorado business owners

At our law firm, we provide estate planning and asset protection advice to clients in a wide variety of personal and business circumstances. When a client is a business owner, establishing a carefully thought out business succession plan is a key part of the process. Creating such a plan earlier, rather than later, can be a bonus, but at any stage of a business, succession planning can begin.

A young entrepreneur can be so immersed in running a new business that he or she may not yet consider what would happen to the business if he or she suddenly became unexpectedly seriously ill, disabled or even deceased. A family business owner may not have considered how to protect his or her spouse and children financially if presented with any of these scenarios.

Harper Lee estate unhappy with characters in Broadway adaption

Artistic license, the scope of contract provisions and how Calpurnia would have acted are all involved in the dispute. If the parties cannot resolve their disagreements, it could delay the stage opening of "To Kill a Mockingbird."

While she was still living, Harper Lee agreed to allow Aaron Sorkin to adapt her famous novel for the stage. She placed one condition: Do not "depart in any manner from the spirit of the novel, nor alter its characters."

The case for tapering off “Benzos” after 65

Prescribed for a variety of disorders including anxiety, insomnia, restless leg syndrome and depression, one class of drug is contributing to more injuries and deaths among older adults. “Benzos” is the short for a class of benzodiazepines such as Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam) and Valium (diazepam).

Many people take these drugs for years and become accustomed to them. This often means increased doses and added medications to the mix. The use in older adults has been increasing along with “z-drugs” (i.e., Ambien and Lunesta) prescribed for insomnia.

Part II: Breach of fiduciary duty in a conservatorship

This is a continuation from our last post on whether a change of beneficiary designation was actually a mistake. In this post, we summarize the facts and discuss the duty of loyalty required in a fiduciary conservator relationship.

The recent Colorado Court of Appeals case detailed the facts. A brief summary is that an elderly mother changed her beneficiary designation on pay-on-death retirement accounts that contained the bulk of her estate assets (approximately $3 million). She left the accounts to a daughter who suffered from mental illness and at the time was homeless in Denver. The change resulted in a much smaller inheritance for her son and his children. 

Part I: Was a pay-on-death decision a mistake?

A recent Colorado Court of Appeals illustrates what can go wrong following the death of a loved one. From determining whether what a parent did was a mistake or part of a plan to flawed attempts to avoid litigation, the case raises issues about pay-on-death designations, special needs trusts and conservatorship fiduciary responsibilities.

Because the number of topics, this case warrants a two-part post. We’ll go into more detail about the facts in this post and describe breach of fiduciary duty in the next.

Remember Stephen Hawking with special needs planning

Reflections on the extraordinary life of Stephen Hawking have been filling the internet at news of his passing. His life and work changed the way we view disability.

He viewed his diagnosis of ALS at age 22 as, “A rare opportunity to … live the life of the mind.” Even though his physicians predicted he had only a few years, he went on to have a career that stretched more than 50 years. He lived to the age of 76.

Do you have to pay off parents’ credit card debt after death?

Regardless of what a collector claims on the phone, you are not legally responsible to pay a credit card bill in most cases. A collections agent may cite “moral obligation” to exploit your desire to do the right thing, but you cannot let a debt collector play on your emotions.

When a loved one leaves debts, they do not disappear. They become the responsibility of the estate. If the estate does not have assets to pay all the bills, some may remain unpaid.

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