You are young and not worried about getting a serious illness. You are optimistic and not concerned about being in an accident. You are too busy with your job and young children to get your estate planning done. You figure Colorado law will direct distribution of your property among your relatives in a reasonable way if you don’t have a will. You are older but take great care of yourself and are in good health.
Potential scenarios that merit estate planning
There are many excuses we tell ourselves when we feel we don’t yet need to make important decisions about who will manage our affairs if we become incapacitated. For example:
- How will medical treatment decisions will be made should we become unable to communicate our choices, either during temporary incapacity or at end of life?
- If we are not able to manage our financial affairs, how can someone else assist?
- To whom do we want our assets to go after we pass away?
In a comprehensive estate plan, you can direct your preferences for how to resolve issues that arise in these potential scenarios and who you would like to carry out your wishes.
Who will hold down the fort if you can’t?
A simple legal document called a financial or durable power of attorney can provide peace of mind should you become incapacitated and unable to take care of you or your family’s financial affairs. This could happen after an accident or illness. For example, you may spend time on life support, become unable to communicate or experience cognitive impairment.
During this period – which, hopefully, will be temporary but may not be – you can give someone the authority to manage your financial affairs on your behalf by executing a power of attorney. Your chosen agent could step in and pay your bills, manage investments and real estate, apply for public benefits, file and pay your taxes and more.
Think broadly about who this person might be and what qualities and strengths you want them to have. It could be a spouse, relative, friend or other acquaintance. Talk to the person you are considering before you name them to be sure they would and could serve and that they understand your concerns and priorities.