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Colorado Springs Estate Planning And Probate Blog

Even those without children need a comprehensive estate plan

If one has a child, it is often the case that they want their child to inherit their assets when one passes away. Therefore, those with children may execute a will or trust to ensure this happens. However, estate planning is important for anyone, including those who do not have children. This is because without an estate plan, the state will determine who will inherit one's assets and make decisions on their behalf.

Therefore, childless persons in Colorado should still execute a will or trust. This way, they can ensure that a beloved relative or friend inherits their estate or that their estate go to a favorite charity following their death. But, a comprehensive estate plan includes more than just a will or trust. It can also address end-of-life issues regarding health care and finances.

Are "no-contest" clauses enforceable in Colorado?

Personal relationships between spouses or between parents and children can be complicated. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, a person in our state may wish to make sure their final wishes are honored by their spouse or child by inserting a "no-contest" cause in their will. A no-contest clause generally states that a person will be disinherited if they challenge the contents of the testator's will. However, are such clauses enforceable here?

Under Colorado law, provisions in a person's will meant to penalize an heir for contesting the will may not be enforced if the heir has probable cause to challenge the will. This is similar to the "probable cause" rule found in the Uniform Probate Code. Of course, whether probable cause exists to challenge a will is determined on a case-by-case basis.

What should you do with your will after it’s written?

You finally created your will. Now what?

Writing your will probably took a decent amount of time but it was worth it. Now what do you do with it? A will is not something you want to leave lying around and kept in secret. Where do you put it? Who should know about it?

Probate does not have to be overwhelming

People in Colorado may have heard of the term "probate" and may not have a very favorable impression of it. Some people choose to take measures to avoid probate through estate planning, in order to save their loved ones' time and preserve their estate. However, with the right help probate does not have to be a lengthy, complex undertaking.

If a person did not have a will or trust at the time of their death, they will have died "intestate" and their estate will go through the probate process and be distributed to the deceased's survivors per Colorado law. If a person has a will at the time of their death, they will have died "testate" and their will will be probated.

What types of trusts may Coloradans include in their estate plan?

A resident who is executing an estate plan may want to consider including a trust in their estate plan. Trusts can be useful vehicles for passing assets on to a beneficiary. Two basic types of trusts are living trusts and testamentary trusts.

A living trust is established during a lifetime of the person who created it. This person is known as the grantor. The grantor's assets are transferred to the trust and are managed by a trustee.

Executing a will can bring peace of mind, among other benefits

Many people in Colorado find the idea of death to be unpleasant or even frightening. For this reason, they may not put much thought into what will happen after they die, and specifically, they may put off executing a will. However, there are many advantages to having a will.

One of the greatest advantages is that through a will you get to choose who will inherit which of your assets. Without a will, your estate will be divided between your heirs via state intestacy laws. This means that certain people who you may not wish to inherit could be granted a sizable portion of your estate. Having a legally-binding will can avoid such a scenario.

Discussing estate planning with your parents has its benefits

While many people in Colorado may have a vague idea that they'll receive an inheritance from their parents, they may stay more or less in the dark until their parents have passed, and their will is read. However, it is entirely possible to sit down and have a conversation with your parents about their inheritance plans while your parents are still alive, and, in fact there are some good reasons for doing so.

Of course, talking about your inheritance is not necessarily a comfortable conversation. One study on the topic reports that the primary reason respondents gave for not having discussions with their parents about their parents' estate plan is that they didn't believe it was a conversation they should be initiating. Our culture sees money as a very private matter. In fact, only 21 percent of parents surveyed reported that they informed their children about their inheritance plans.

Are Coloradans responsible for the debts of a deceased loved one?

In today's economy, many people in Colorado carry some form of debt. For example, they may have a mortgage, an auto loan or a credit card account. When a person who has debts passes away, the question who is responsible for paying back these debts arises?

The deceased's survivors may be worried that they'll be on the hook for their loved one's debts. In general, they need not worry. Per the Federal Trade Commission, the deceased's survivors generally are not liable for the debts of the deceased. Instead, the debts are paid out of the deceased's estate. And, if the estate assets are depleted in paying off the debts, any remaining balances will generally go unpaid.

Did Your Loved One Ask for an Environmentally-Friendly Funeral?

It is estimated that in 2017, more than half of all people chose cremation for their funeral planning. This trend is part of a growing movement of environmentally-conscious and economical people who want to include their philosophy in their estate planning needs.

Did someone in your family recently pass away and ask for a “green” funeral? It can be difficult to know where to start, but there are options available to you.

What life events warrant a review of one's estate plan?

Life is rarely static, and Coloradans can expect that as they age, they will see many changes in their life. Family members may have come into or gone from their lives, they may have worked their way up the corporate ladder and many other major life events may have occurred over the years. It is important, then, that one's estate plan reflects these changes.

Moving to a different state is a huge change in a person's life. However, it is an event that warrants a review of one's estate plan. This is because the laws regarding estate planning vary by state. Some differences are small, such as how many witnesses are needed to execute a will. However, other differences, such as whether a spouse must receive a certain amount of their partner's estate upon their death can make a big difference to one's estate plan. Moreover, different states have different tax laws, and while some states have abolished estate taxes and inheritance taxes, others have not.

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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