While estate planning is unique to every person’s needs, basic documentation is part of every plan and includes a will, a living will (advanced healthcare directive), and power of attorney paperwork. A person’s age should not be a barrier to the timely preparation of estate documents because they can provide for the well-being of individuals and loved ones. A professional experienced attorney can assist in preparation of necessary estate planning documents.
Probate and advantages.
Probate is a court supervised procedure for distributing a deceased person’s property after his or her death. If the deceased had a Will, the persons or entities named in the Will will inherit the property, but if they died without a valid Will, the laws of the State of Colorado determine who will inherit the property. The purpose of probate is to insure property and assets are distributed to the proper beneficiaries and to insure that the decedent’s creditors are paid. An attorney can explain the advantages to probate: 1) there are stringent court rules designed to protect the beneficiaries; 2) creditors are required to file their claims within a limited period of time; and the rules of the court provide guidance in the event of a dispute or controversy.
In Colorado anyone who is over the age of 18 and of sound mind can execute a Will. While most Wills are drafted by attorneys, the only legal requirement is that the Will is signed, dated, and notarized. The only exception is a Holographic Will (a signed handwritten Will) which does not have to be witnessed or notarized.
Common estate planning documents.
A Last Will and Testament is important for the purposes of explaining where and how an individual would like their assets divided, debts resolved and end of life issues outlined. An experienced probate attorney can make sure a will contains the legally necessary language so that a person’s wishes can be honored at the time of their death. A simple will can ensure that the deceased’s wishes are carried out with minimal controversy. If a person does not have a will, the state law governs the distribution of an estate which is not necessarily what a person would want. While there are more efficient and tailored legal tools than a simple will, a basic will is the minimum legal document needed by every estate.
A Living Will/Advance Healthcare Directive is the document that details the type of care a person wants administered in the event they become mentally or physically incapable of communicating those wishes. Whatever one feels about end-of-life care, a living will can save family members from stress and potential conflicts by clearly stating their desires regarding care actions in advance.
A Power of Attorney designates another person to conduct business on one’s behalf when they cannot do it. Financial and medical powers of attorney are similarly necessary should a medical condition prevent sound decision-making capabilities. Instead, a trusted loved one can provide for appropriate care and protect financial assets.
Seek legal counsel.
Estate planning should be undertaken with the assistance of an experienced attorney at the Semler Law Firm to keep loved ones from further hardship after a death.