FAQs

Q. WHAT HAPPENS IF I DIE WITHOUT A WILL OR A TRUST?

Choosing to not have a will or a trust is a decision that may cause problems for your family down the road. In Colorado, if a person dies without a will or a trust, Colorado state law dictates who will receive your assets and in what proportions. Not making a will or a trust relinquishes control of your assets to others; if you don’t decide, someone else will.

Q. WHAT IS PROBATE?

Probate is the legal process that transfers title of assets from the person who died to the people named in the will, if there was a will, or to his or her heirs as dictated by statute if there was no will. Read more…

Q. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AND WILL AND A LIVING TRUST?

A will is a document that becomes effective upon the death of the person who wrote it and directs who receives their property and appoints a legal representative to handle probate. Read more…

Q. WHICH IS RIGHT FOR ME?

The short answer to this question is that it depends entirely upon your circumstances, your priorities, and your preferences. You will decide what fits for you after you learn your options. Read more…

Q. ONLY WEALTHY PEOPLE NEED TRUSTS, RIGHT?

The benefits of a trust are not limited to large and complicated estates because a trust allows for the grantor (or creator of the trust) to control his or her assets throughout their lifetime until they are unable or unwilling to continue in that role. Read more…

Q. WHERE SHOULD I KEEP MY WILL OR OTHER IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS?

If your will and other important estate planning documents cannot be located when they are needed, it can cause confusion and conflict. Read more…

Q. WHAT IS A LIVING WILL?

A Living Will is your statement of intent to your doctors about what treatment you would like to have or like to avoid in the event you are deemed to be in a persistent vegetative state or have a terminal illness and cannot speak for yourself. Read more…

Q. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WILL AND A LIVING WILL?

A will and a living will are completely different. Read more…

Q. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LIVING WILL AND AN ADVANCED HEALTHCARE OR MEDICAL DIRECTIVE?

People use these terms interchangeably. Read more…

Q. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DURABLE GENERAL FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY AND A DURABLE MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY?

Both documents serve to allow a person you designate (called an agent) to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you cannot speak for yourself, however they serve very different purposes. Read more…

Q. IF I HAVE A WILL, DO I ALSO NEED A DURABLE FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY?

A coordinated will-based estate plan will include both the will and the Durable Financial Power of Attorney because one, the will, becomes controlling at death, while the other, a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, allows your agent to handle your financial affairs while you are alive.

Q. WHAT IS “JOINT TENANCY”?

Joint tenancy is a form of property ownership for real property and personal property. How the property is owned with another impacts how property ownership changes at an owner’s death. With joint tenancy, there is a right of survivorship between the parties when one party dies. In other words, the property does not pass through probate or a trust; the surviving owner owns the entire property.

The type of ownership of property (such as joint ownership or tenants in common), when ownership was transferred, and how ownership was transferred, is critical to evaluating potential estate planning impacts, basis adjustment (income taxes), and Medicaid issues. It is important to consult with an attorney and/or a CPA before transferring ownership of property, so you fully understand the ramifications of such a transfer.

Q. WHAT IS ‘FUNDING’ OF A TRUST?

“Funding” a trust is the process of changing the ownership of assets and/or beneficiary designations to the name of the trust.

Q. I HAVE MOVED FROM ANOTHER STATE TO COLORADO; DO I NEED TO CHANGE MY WILL?

A will that is valid where it was created should be valid in all 50 states. However, It is always a good practice to have a lawyer in your new state of residence look at your estate planning documents to determine whether they still effectively carry out your wishes. A new Colorado will or trust may be beneficial.

Q. WHO WILL RAISE OUR CHILDREN IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO BOTH ME AND MY SPOUSE?

The thought of someone else raising your children is heartbreaking and distressing. Read more…

Q. I WANT SOMEONE TO HELP ME PAY MY BILLS. SHOULD I JUST ADD MY SON OR DAUGHTER TO MY INVESTMENT AND BANK ACCOUNTS?

You will want to be very cautious about adding another person to your accounts. Read more…

Q. I DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE ANY OF MY ASSETS TO ONE OF MY CHILDREN. CAN THEY FORCE ME TO LEAVE SOMETHING TO THEM?

In Colorado, only spouses have a right to inherit based on statute. Otherwise, to whom you leave your assets to is your choice; children do not have the right to force an inheritance if you choose otherwise. If this is your goal, your will or trust must be drafted with care to make your intentions clear.

Q. I HAVE A REVOCABLE TRUST. CAN I CHANGE IT?

Usually, yes. Read more…

Q. MY HUSBAND PASSED MANY YEARS AGO AND NOW I WISH TO REMARRY BUT I WANT MY AND MY DECEASED HUSBAND’S ASSETS TO GO TO OUR KIDS.

Remarriage can result in inadvertent consequences when you do not plan ahead. A subsequent marriage could inadvertently divert a substantial portion of your estate, if not all of it, away from your children should you die prior to your new spouse. Situations differ; however, a prenuptial agreement may make good sense here.

Q. MY HEALTH IF FAILING. I MAY NEED TO RELOCATE TO ASSISTED LIVING. IS THERE ANY REASON NOT TO TRANSFER ALL OF MY ASSETS TO MY CHILDREN; I AM GOING TO LEAVE IT ALL TO THEM ANYWAY?

You will want to proceed with extreme caution because this plan of action is rife with problems. Read more…

Q. I WANT TO GIVE GIFTS TO MY CHILDREN BUT HEARD THERE IS TAXES ON GIFTS. HOW DOES THAT WORK?

There is a gift tax exclusion that allows you to give up to a certain amount. Read more...

Q. WHAT IS A “SMALL ESTATE AFFIDAVIT”?

This is a Colorado form that allows an appropriate party to collect and distribute assets of a deceased party. Read more…

Q. WHAT IS A BENEFICIARY DEED?

A Beneficiary Deed is a document signed and notarized by the owner of a property directing that ownership will pass to specified individual(s) upon their death. Read more...