Most commonly asked questions
What is an estate plan?
A set of documents that serve as a road map for personal, medical, and financial decisions in case of your incapacity or death. Your estate is simply everything you own -- your home, other real estate, bank accounts, investments, retirement benefits from your employer, IRAs, your insurance policies, collectibles, and personal belongings.
Who needs an estate plan?
EVERYONE! The purpose of plannings to ensure that you have a say over yourself, your loved ones, and your assets, when you cannot. It also allows you to set up a structure which minimizes conflicts between family members and allows for smooth transition of assets.
What is a will?
A legal document which allows you to dispose of your property upon your death. It may also name guardians for your minor children, trustees for any trusts you create in your will, and your personal representative (executor) to administer your probate estate. A will may be revoked and amended during your lifetime.
What is a trust?
A trust determines how your property is to be distributed and managed during your lifetime and upon your death. There are different types of trusts and can be set up to manage assets for your children upon your death, to protect assets, and minimize legal fees and taxes.
What is the difference between a general durable power of attorney and medical power of attorney for health care decisions?
A general power of attorney allows you to name a person (agent) to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become disabled or otherwise are unable to make your own decisions. A medical power of attorney for health care allows you to name a person (agent) to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
What happens if i do not have an esate plan?
Without an estate plan, Colorado's intestate succession laws will determine how your property will be distributed and court proceedings will determine who will be named guardian of any minor children. Other court processes, like guardianships or conservatorships, may occur during your lifetime to empower people to handle your affairs if you were unable to manage things for yourself. This process can be expensive, time consuming and may lead to family disputes.
I've been named as the executor, administrator or trustee-what are my responsibilities?
Your role is multifaceted and may feel overwhelming. Because every estate and trust administration and probate process is unique, it's important that all circumstances be carefully reviewed. It's also necessary that all legally-mandated duties and court and filing processes are adhered to in order to avoid risks associated with legal liability.
Generally, the executor (also known as a personal representative or administrator) is responsible for a wide range of responsibilities, including-but, perhaps, not limited to-locating original estate plan documents, making necessary court filings and appearances, notifying and making distributions to beneficiaries, and managing the deceased's property, including making an inventory of all assets, paying debts, filing tax returns, and notifying all applicable government agencies, banks and financial representatives, insurance, credit card and utility companies.
A trustee has the additional duties of administering the trust estate, including collecting, preserving, protecting and investing, and allocating and distributing trust assets.