While I wish you all a long, happy and prosperous life, surrounded by family and friends, the reality is that none of us get out of here alive and having a well crafted estate plan in place gives you peace of mind during your life and makes the transition after you pass on easier for everyone.
An “Estate Plan” is a series of documents that serve as a roadmap of how you’d like things to be handled in the event that you become incapacitated (seriously ill or disabled) or when you die.
A Will is probably the best known part of estate planning. It is the first step, but it is hardly the last step, that we will take in crafting your individual estate plan. Your will outlines your wishes for how you’d like your property distributed, it names a personal representative who will handle your affairs and distribute your assets. In your will you can name a guardian for your minor children, and even pets. You can also name someone to handle the money on their behalf, an “inheritance manager” so to speak. Setting up a trust is another way that will ensure that the money is there for your loved ones in the long run.
In creating your comprehensive Estate Plan, I will clearly outline your wishes as to how decisions should be made about your care and treatment until you die using a Living Will. We will also set up a Healthcare Power of Attorney which authorizes someone to make decisions on your behalf, in accordance with your Living Will.
Your estate plan will also include a General Power of Attorney for you, in which you will name someone to manage your finances and property. They have an obligation to act in accordance with your wishes.
Some Estate Plans may also include the creation of a trust. While there are many different types of trusts, which are used for a wide variety of reasons, the most common is the Revocable Trust, or a Testamentary Trust. In this type of trust, you retain ownership of all of the trust assets during your lifetime. This means you can change your mind about what is and isn’t in the trust, and you control where these assets go after you pass away. It is important to note, however, that this type of trust does not provide any protection against creditors nor is it a tax planning tool. An Irrevocable Trust, or a Living Trust, is used in situations where you are looking for greater asset protection, minimizing tax obligations, or to protect government assistance benefits for an ill spouse or a person with disability. Greer Law, LLC will help you decide if a trust is right for you and what type is best for your individual needs given your particular situation.
Compassionate and Comprehensive Estate Planning in Denver
Here’s the thing about everything that I’ve just mentioned, these are all just legal documents. Pieces of paper with lots, and lots of words on them. While the courts will understand what you are trying to say, your loved ones may not. I strongly encourage you to use this as a starting off point. Start the conversation with your family — your aging parents, your spouse, your siblings, your children — talk about your values, your beliefs, and your hopes for the future.
I know it easy to put off planning for the future. Many of my clients have said that they didn’t think they owned enough to worry about it. Others have said that they knew they need a plan, but became overwhelmed and figured they have plenty of time to deal with it next week, month or year. Others still just didn’t want to deal with it. However, all of them said once we were done with creating their individual estate plan was how much peace of mind they had and how easy the process was.
Knowing that you have a comprehensive estate plan in place – one that will protect what matters most – is not just something that you do for yourself, but for your loved ones as well.