The last 18-plus months have caused many Americans to reflect on the importance of being prepared for the worst. Surveys show that more people, especially those in their 30s and 40s, are thinking of doing estate planning. Something they had avoided before and might not have considered taking care of if not for the global pandemic.
An estate plan is something every adult in Denver should have, regardless of their age, health and number of children. Even in calmer times, you never know what might happen to you. Having a comprehensive and legally enforceable will, trust and other estate planning tools in place gives you and your family peace of mind. You can also use it to maintain control over critical medical decisions, even if a medical emergency leaves you unable to communicate.
Hopefully, you will get through the pandemic in good health. But here are a couple of estate planning tools you should have in your arsenal, just in case.
A will (and possibly a trust)
The will is the centerpiece of any estate plan. It sets out how you want your assets distributed after you die. Otherwise, Colorado intestacy laws take over and give your belongings to heirs in a way that you might not have wanted. You can also name your choice for personal representative (commonly known as the executor) in your will, so you can be confident that the person handling your estate after you are gone will be trustworthy and competent.
Besides a will, if you have earned substantial assets, you might consider placing them in a trust. Trusts avoid probate, saving your personal representative and beneficiaries time and money.
An advance health care directive and powers of attorney
In an advance health care directive, you lay out what level of care you would want in various end-of-life scenarios. For example, you can direct if you would want doctors to use life support on you if you enter into a vegetative state. This gives you control over your body and your health, no matter what. And you can use powers of attorney to choose who would handle your medical care decisions and your finances if you are unable to do so.