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Denver Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Learn from Gawande: Hope is not a plan

Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal has made many waves across the medical profession and has important implications for estate planning.

Gawande is a practicing surgeon and acclaimed writer who audaciously tackled the immense issue of how the healthcare system has failed to help aging people and their families prepare for the future.

Learning how to fall in order to remain independent

For older Americans, falls are a leading cause of death. Falling becomes a serious concern as early as the 70s when bones start to become more brittle. Broken bones also take longer to heal. A fall can become the triggering event that leads to a loved one’s ultimate decline.

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Americans suffered seven million fall injuries, approximately 27,000 were fatal. The agency began an initiative, Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries (STEADI) to focus attention among healthcare providers on fall prevention. In this post, we discuss falling classes that are becoming routine in the Netherlands.

Should an estate plan update be your 2018 New Year’s resolution?

People have been making New Year’s resolutions for 4,000 years since the Babylonians started the practice, according to the History Channel. The beginning of a new year is a time to examine your life to see what steps you may take to make improvements, including things you might have been putting off. For many people, a smart resolution would be to establish or update an estate plan. 

Estate-planning basics 

How to deal with creditors in probate

Many creditors take an aggressive approach after the death of a loved one. As a personal representative, be cautious. Depleting an estate’s cash to pay these “squeaky wheels” can cause trouble down the road.

Because you may only administer an estate once or maybe a handful of times, seeking legal counsel from an estate administration attorney can be pivotal. Before you can take care of any business, you first need “letters” from the court. We’ll summarize the initial timeline in this post.

How the grandparent scam works

It is hard to believe that scam artists would be targeting elderly individuals over the holidays, but that is what happens. This blog post comes from a Facebook news feed story.

In the story, a 78-year-old grandmother received a call from someone claiming to be her grandson. She knew her grandson well enough to know that the call could not be legitimate. She is still sharp and hung right up. Elder financial abuse occurs more often than many realize with one in five seniors over the age of 65 becoming a victim. One estimate places the cost to U.S. seniors at approximately $36 billion a year.

How tax reforms and regulation changes could affect estates

Colorado does not have a state estate or inheritance tax. On the federal level, however, the estate tax is 40 percent. It only kicks in for large estates with a gross value of more than $5.49 million.

An analysis by the Tax Policy Center found that about 11,310 estates would need to file estate tax returns this year. After accounting for deductions and credits, only 5,460 would owe tax. If you are in the top 10 percent of income earners, you need to carefully consider legacy planning options.

Senior$afe Act makes progress in Senate

Creating a catchy title for federal legislation must be its own niche on Capitol Hill. The aptly named Senior$afe Act must have been coined by a financial planner.

It begins to answer the question of how we reduce senior financial fraud. Brokerages and financial advisors would play a stronger role as a first line of defense. Of cases reported, an overwhelming majority have gone undetected for too long. These delays have devastating consequences on seniors who rely on their accumulated life savings to cover expenses.

The importance of correct beneficiary designations

Retirement accounts, life insurance and annuities are probably not controlled by provisions in your will. Why is this? These types of accounts and any other designated “payable on death” or “transfer on death” automatically pass to a named beneficiary outside of probate.

You may change beneficiaries at any time. When it is time to change a will, it is a good idea to look at beneficiary designations as well. If you fail to make updates after a significant life change, it can easily result in unintended consequences.

Can spousal support survive after the payor dies?

This question involves two separate legal practice areas: family law and probate law. In September, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that in most situations spousal support/maintenance payments end when the obligor (spouse ordered to pay it) dies.

In cases where the intent is to continue support payments for the life of the person receiving it, there must be clear language to that effect. This case provides an example of why it is often important to bring in an estate planning attorney during the divorce process.

The story of a final gift to loved ones and a community

This Thanksgiving season spend a little time telling those around you how much you appreciate them – here is the guidance from Debi Barger, “Write a letter to someone and tell them how they have had a positive effect on your life.”

Several weeks ago, we ran across this story of a final gift that one woman left to her family and community. She wrote her own obituary. She admitted that she did not like the typical style, but it also lifted one burden from her daughter’s shoulders.

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