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Estate Planning

While it can be painful to think about or discuss with loved ones, estate planning ensures that you can choose who inherits your assets and that it’s done efficiently.

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Looking back on your life, you can see the results of your hard work. You have your home, furnishings, possessions and the savings and investments you carefully managed to safeguard for the future. Your last will and testament provides peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will receive your assets according to your wishes.

Preparing your last will and testament also clears up any ambiguity among your survivors regarding your wishes for your property and heads off possible disputes by making your intentions clear and unambiguous. The last thing you want is a surprise in the administration of your estate. Contact the experienced estate attorneys at Pickard Law, P.C., to schedule an appointment and begin your estate planning.

It may be time to start thinking about the future and the potential unnecessary burden your family faces if you die without a will. Our estate attorneys can help guide you in preparing a last will and testament that is sure to protect your legacy.

Why Do You Need A Living Will?

A living will is a document that directs your wishes under certain difficult circumstances.  It applies when you are either completely unresponsive and in a terminal condition, or when you are in a persistent vegetative state.  It provides direction on what your health care providers should do with regards to artificial nutrition and hydration and life support.  This can significantly ease the mental load your loved ones may already be experiencing.

A living will empowers your agent to supervise and make decisions about the kind and quality of care you receive according to your wishes. Our experienced and compassionate attorneys at Pickard Law, P.C., can help you determine when you need a living will and help you create one. We know how stressful it can be to think about future illnesses, and we strive to make the process as painless as possible for you and your loved ones.

Common Questions And Answers About Estate Planning And Probate

We’ve answered some common questions about estate planning and probate on this page. We invite you to contact us with any additional questions you may have.

How will I know what to include in my will or my overall estate plan?

Many people are hesitant to create an estate plan because they don’t know where to begin or what they should include. Making these decisions on your own can feel paralyzing, but the good news is that the entire process is much easier with the help of an attorney.

Every estate plan will include a will, and most should include a living will. Trusts can be helpful legal instruments, but they are not necessary or appropriate for all estates. When you work with the experienced attorneys at our firm, we can quickly help you determine which estate planning documents are right for you, including some not mentioned here. We will guide you through creating a thorough and legally sound estate plan.

How often should I update my will?

You will need to update your will after any significant changes in life or family circumstances that could impact your estate or your intended heirs. For instance, most people might update their will after getting married or divorced or following the birth of a child. Even if you haven’t experienced significant changes recently, it’s a good idea to at least review your will every few years.

Why can’t I create my estate plan with online forms?

You certainly can take the do-it-yourself approach to estate planning, but it is not advisable. As mentioned above, most people won’t know which documents to include before consulting with an attorney.

Moreover, printable online forms are templated documents that are difficult or impossible to customize, increasing the risk that your estate plan will be incomplete and ambiguously worded. Having an unclear or poorly written estate plan can be worse than not having one because it can lead to confusion, family strife and even litigation. The financial consequences of these problems would outweigh any money saved by writing an estate plan without an attorney.

What are the stages of property transfer after death?

When someone passes away, their property passes through different legal channels: 

  • Title
  • Contract
  • Probate

Regardless of the property type, it will pass through at least one of these channels during property transfer. 

What happens in the title phase?

During this phase, assets the decedent was on title for are transferred to the next person on title, if any. For example, if the decedent jointly owned a bank account with a family member, it would then belong solely to that family member. This concept applies to other property types, including real estate, cars, investment accounts and businesses.

What happens in the contract phase?

The contract phase is when property is passed on to a designated beneficiary. It could be a person listed on an IRA or investment account. It could be a pay-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death designation (TOD) on a bank account or savings account. There are also other various forms of beneficiary designations. 

Functionally, there is a contract with the entity managing those funds or that asset that says that when someone passes away, those funds or that asset is to be automatically transferred to a designated person. This process will unfold regardless of what the decedent’s will says and regardless of if probate takes place. 

How does the probate process work?

Probate is a court-supervised process that functions as a catchall to manage assets that were not transferred through title or contract. In this process, a personal representative gathers any remaining assets in a decedent’s estate and distributes them per the terms of their will.

Is it necessary to avoid probate?

In Colorado, the Probate process is nothing to be afraid of.  It is often handled simply and efficiently and in many cases is preferrable to a trust.  I often advise people that it is when they are trying to “avoid probate” that they create the biggest issues.  We encourage you to give us a call to discuss any concerns you may have.

What role does a trust play in these processes?

A trust is a legal entity that goes on title on a person’s assets to manage where those assets go upon death. Assets must be titled in the name of the trust to be effective. For example, a person needs to put a deed or bank account in the name of their trust. Of course, there are different ramifications for doing this, such as taxation, liability, and marital property concerns, but it is important to remember that a trust is only effective to the extent that it is actually on the title of the particular asset.  If you have a trust, you will still have a will in case any assets are not titled in the name of the trust.

Do You Need An Estate Planning Lawyer In Littleton?

If you are ready to take steps to plan your last will and testament, you need an estate planning lawyer. An experienced estate planning attorney from Pickard Law, P.C., can help you divide your assets appropriately and according to your wishes.

Contact our firm to learn how we can help you prepare for your and your family’s future. Call us at 303-989-6655 for a free and confidential consultation and learn how we can help you get peace of mind and organize your estate.

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