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Colorado Springs Estate Planning And Probate Blog

Include your 'fur-babies' when estate planning

Whether you're a cat-aficionado, a dog-lover or a fan of any other furry, feathery or scaly companion, it goes without saying that most pet owners in Colorado consider their pet to be one of the family. Many people take the step of executing an estate plan for the benefit of their human loved ones. However, pet owners will also want to keep their animal companion in mind when estate planning. After all, there are no guarantees in life, and it is possible that a pet could outlive its owner.

Generally, there are three different documents that a person can choose from to include their pet in their estate plan. Some people choose to put provisions regarding their pet in their will. Like property, a person can put language in their will leaving their pet to a specific relative or friend. Sometimes, a person can also choose to earmark money for the pet's care in their will. However, there is no guarantee that one's instructions in their will regarding their pet will be followed after they die.

Don't try to handle the probate process alone

If a person in Colorado dies without having a will or trust in place, this is known as dying "intestate." When this happens, the Colorado Probate Code will dictate who will inherit the deceased's assets. This is done through the probate process.

Many people may have heard of the term "probate" and may not have a very favorable view of it. However, probate need not be a lengthy, complex and frustrating process. Attorneys are available to help people in such situations. For example, the legal team at Schroer & Williams Law Offices PLLC, aim to make the probate process as efficient and pain-free as possible.

How can a will in Colorado be revoked?

Estate planning is important for people of any age. Some people in Colorado take the wise step of executing a will prior to old age. While this document may serve them well for many years, as the future brings new people and new experiences into a person's life, that person may want to revoke their existing will and create a new will. However, there are certain requirements that must be met to legally revoke a will.

Under Colorado law, a will or a portion of a will can be revoked in two circumstances. The first is if another will is executed that either expressly states that the prior will is revoked or the new will is inconsistent with the prior will. If the second will does not expressly state that the prior will is revoked but the testator intended the second will to serve as a replacement to the previous will, the previous will is revoked entirely due to inconsistency. The second way to revoke a will is by tearing, burning or intentionally committing some sort of revocatory act on the will.

Setting up a special needs trust for your disabled child

Developing a trust constitutes a responsible decision, and specific trusts exist to substantially benefit individuals with special needs across Colorado. You want to protect your special needs child by providing assets to them in the future, but you worry that your generous gifts will cause them to lose government funding.

The United States adjusts Social Security Disability and other types of government aid benefits based on income and wealth. Should your special needs child show, on paper, that they received a substantial amount of assets or inheritance after you pass away, the government has the authority to take away all funding to your child. However, if you create a special needs trust, the government cannot use these assets as income when determining whether your child qualifies for aid. Whether you are old or young, developing a special needs trust for your child offers you peace of mind that your child will receive necessary aid when you pass away.

Colorado law dictates who will inherit in absence of a will

When a person in Colorado dies without leaving behind a will or trust, this is known as dying intestate. What this means is that the deceased's estate will go through the probate process. Because there is no document stating who the deceased wants to inherit their estate, state law determines who is to inherit.

Essentially, probate is an administrative process. First, a person will start a case in probate court. The court then rules that the deceased did not leave behind a will and will appoint an administrator for the deceased's estate. It is the administrator's duty to collect the estate assets, identify those who may inherit from the estate and provide creditors with notification of the deceased's passing. The deceased's assets will be liquidated to cover debts and taxes. What remains is then distributed to the deceased's heirs as laid out in state statutes.

Estate planning is important for people of any financial means

Some people in Colorado may be under the impression that only rich people need an estate plan. In fact, one survey reveals that only 42 percent of respondents had executed estate planning documents. This is significant, as many people in Colorado and across the United States have a general idea of what care they'd like at the end of their lives and who they want to inherit their assets. This is true even of young people or those with modest estates. Therefore, there are a number of important reasons that one may want to execute an estate plan.

For example, estate planning doesn't just address what happens after you die. It can also address situations in which you are still alive but are incapacitated. A health care power of attorney and financial power of attorney can be executed stating who you want to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

What are the three types of probate in Colorado?

Some legal processes that may seem well-known can actually be quite complex. For example, many people may have heard of the term probate but they may be surprised to hear that there are different types of probate processes. Colorado has three types of probate processes. These processes apply to both wills and intestate estates.

The first type of probate is for small estates. If an estate is valued at $50,000 or less and does not contain any real property, then the deceased's heirs can receive their share of the estate through the execution of an affidavit. The court is not involved in a probate for small estates.

Why is it important to periodically review one's will?

While some people in Colorado Springs may have already executed an estate plan, it is a mistake to think that estate planning is "one and done." In fact, there are a variety of reasons why it is good to review one's estate plan. This way, a person can ensure their estate plan accurately reflects their wishes as their life goes on.

Let's focus on wills. Many life changes can affect a person's will. For example, new children or grandchildren may be born that a person wants to leave an inheritance to. Or, sadly, sometimes an heir will pass away first. Thus, a person will have to decide what to do with their loved one's inheritance. Marriages and divorces can also affect who a person wants to leave an inheritance to. Therefore, it is important to review one's will periodically, taking these life changes into account.

Addressing family real estate in estate planning

A home’s value can go far beyond just how much it is worth monetarily. Such property can also have a great deal of emotional value in a family. For example, things like a long-time family home, a vacation home or a family farm can have all kinds of positive memories and feelings attached to them.

So, such property can hold a very high place of importance within a family. Unfortunately, it could also be a source of conflict and problems for family members after a loved one’s death. So, careful estate planning can be very important for individuals when it comes to property they own that their family has a strong connection to.

What is power of attorney?

Have you ever wondered exactly what a power of attorney is? More importantly, do you know why it may be vital for you to have one?

A power of attorney is very important when it comes to estate planning. A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to grant someone else, an “attorney-in-fact,” the power to act on your behalf for financial or other purposes. This usually happens if you happen to become incapacitated or if for some reason you are unable to act on your own behalf.

Schroer & Williams Law Offices, PLLC
7045 Campus Drive, Suite 103
Colorado Springs, CO 80920-6560
Phone: 719-473-4355
Fax: 719-380-0299
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