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Answers To The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Colorado Estate Planning

At Chayet & Danzo, LLC, we provide answers to a wide variety of estate planning questions. This includes questions as to why estate planning is important for you. Below are just some of the questions we regularly hear. For more specific inquiries, call 303-872-5980 to arrange a free consultation.

Why do I need an estate plan?

If you have a family, you will need an estate plan to designate who will take care of your minor children should the unthinkable happen to you and your spouse. If you have a home, a car, investments or property, a will is important for farmers, ranchers, business owners and entrepreneurs. A trust can protect your assets from significant taxation while also enabling your estate to avoid the Colorado probate process, which can take time and money and may require court. There are several tools that can be included in an estate plan.

Are internet estate planning forms valid?

Not necessarily. In addition, you may have unique financial circumstances and specific wishes these forms do not include. It’s always a risk to use these forms.

What’s the role of a personal representative?

In Colorado, the person who represents your estate after you die is your personal representative. This person must be at least 21 years old and of sound mind. The duties of the representative you designate are to:

  • File your will with the court
  • Create an inventory of the estate and distribute the estate to the beneficiaries
  • Pay your estate expenses and debts

A well-prepared will will make your personal representative’s job easier by laying out your wishes.

What is the difference between a will and a trust?

A will allows you to distribute your estate assets contained in the manner you wish. You can list the personal property you own and provide instructions as to who should take possession of it. In a will, you can choose your personal representative to carry out the will’s terms.

A trust, on the other hand, allows you to set aside property and assets for specific purposes. It allows you to provide instruction concerning the holding of assets. A trust can also set conditions regarding distribution of those assets. If you have a child who will need lifelong care, a special needs trust may be a good idea.

What is an advance medical directive?

An Advance Medical Directives is a set of legal documents that you execute and give to your surrogate so that he/she may act as your decision maker to accept, reject, or withdraw any medical procedures or treatments offered if you become incapacitated. To can on your behalf, your surrogate should know your wishes regarding medical treatment and life support.

The two legal documents used to make advance medical directives are the Living Will and the Medical Durable Power of Attorney. If you become incapacitated and you did not previously sign an advance medical directive, a guardian may have to be appointed by the court to make decisions for you.

What is a living will?

A “Living Will” is a document used to express your health care wishes. Generally, the living will comes into play when someone has a terminal condition or is in an irrevocable coma state. The living will is where you would indicate that you do not want to be kept alive by medical procedures, such as life support, which would merely postpone death.

Once the Living Will is executed, it can be applied when you have been certified as being in a terminal condition by at least two physicians; have been in a coma for at least seven days, and not pregnant. The physician must give notice to the nearest family members and wait another forty-eight hours after certification for a response. If there is an objection, a court hearing is held and a guardian ad litem is court-appointed for you. With court permission the physician may withhold life support, which does not include withholding pain medication.

Your attending physician must honor the directives of the Living Will, or relinquish your care. The statute governing living wills specifically states that death due to compliance with the Living Will is not suicide or homicide.

A Living Will only applies in situations where death is imminent. It does not apply where death is not imminent, but you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

What is a power of attorney (POA)?

Creating a medical power of attorney (also called a health care proxy) means that you designate someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. Read more about advance directives.

A financial power of attorney means that you choose someone to manage your finances, pay bills and accept payments for you if you are unable to do so.

A power of attorney can be worded to limit or enhance the powers of the individual you choose to take care of your personal affairs. No one thinks they will be in a serious car accident, coma or have an unexpected stroke. A POA means that if anything like that happens to you, then your family knows what you want to happen.

Get The Answers And Information You Need

Speak with an experienced Colorado estate planning attorney at Chayet & Danzo, LLC. We know you have questions, and we offer a free consultation so that you can get all your questions answered before you move forward. You can reach us at 303-872-5980 or toll-free at 888-472-1088. You can also connect with us via our website contact email. We serve clients throughout the Denver area.