Estate Planning

Photo by BrianAJackson/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by BrianAJackson/iStock / Getty Images
 
 

why do you need estate planning?

Estate planning can be the key to protecting your loved ones and your legacy. There is a lot to consider and plan for when creating your estate plan, and the best options will vary according to your needs, your estate, and your goals. Though planning for your estate may seem “simple,” having the guidance of an experience attorney can be pivotal to ensure that you are not overlooking anything and that you are devising the best estate plan for you and your loved ones.

At Hardin, Waldrip, & Davis, PLLC, our Arapahoe County estate lawyers have more than four decades of experience working closely with clients to help them develop comprehensive, effective estate plans. Skilled at devising innovative solutions, our lawyers can help you identify and move forward with your best estate planning options so that you are able to limit any future liabilities while protecting what matters most to you.

Our attorneys have extensive experience creating estate plans for various situations, including (but by no means limited to) those that involve:

  • Modest estates to high-value estates.

  • Estates that include business interests.

  • Estates that include property in multiple states or countries.

  • Probate avoidance planning, which can include developing trusts.

  • Designation of a Personal Representative and beneficiaries.

  • Incapacity planning, including devising powers of attorneys and revocable living trusts.

  • Retirement planning, which can involve working with financial advisors and/or ensuring beneficiary designations align with the terms of the estate plan.

  • Family planning, including new family planning, special needs planning, and blended family planning.

  • Tax planning, including income tax planning and estate tax planning.

  • End-of-life planning, which can include developing end-of-life directives and funeral/burial plans.

  • Real estate, which can include the appropriate titling of property.

With the right estate plan in place, you can gain the peace of mind that you and your loved ones will be sufficiently protected and appropriately cared for in the future. You can also be confident that your estate plan will reduce your loved one’s future emotional and financial stress, allowing them to efficiently carry out your wishes.

what documents are involved in an estate plan?

Last will & testament

A Last Will & Testament is a legal document that nominates a person, known as the personal representative, to administer your estate upon your death, and names the beneficiaries who are to receive your assets and the manner in which they receive them. 

Why do you need a will? A will provides you with the opportunity to choose your own heirs and decide to whom you wish to leave your legacy. Your will directs who is to receive your real property, financial assets, and tangible personal property, such as household goods and furnishings, jewelry, antiques, heirlooms, and similar items. Without a will, your estate may be subject to the state intestacy laws. Intestacy laws determine who will serve as your personal representative as well as who is to receive your property.

If you have minor children, you may nominate a guardian to care for your children until they reach the age of majority. Similarly, you may nominate a conservator to provide financial management and support for your children, and a custodian to manage your children's inheritance until they reach they age of majority. 

REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST

A revocable living trust is the most commonly used trust in estate planning. A revocable living trust is a form of legal entity that is created during your life and holds and manages your assets. You, as the grantor and trustee of the trust, may continue managing and benefiting from the assets owned by the trust. Then, upon your death, your named beneficiaries will receive the trust property according to the specific provisions included in your trust agreement. When fully funded, a trust will also achieve probate avoidance.

A revocable living trust can accomplish a variety of goals, such as creditor protection for your beneficiaries, tax savings, privacy, and flexibility. Additionally, should you become incapacitated, you may name successor trustees to continue managing your trust assets on your behalf. 

TESTAMENTARY TRUST

A testamentary trust is a trust that is created with your Last Will & Testament. Accordingly, the trust is not created until your passing. Your Will directs how the testamentary trust is to be established, who is to serve as your trustee to manage the trust assets, and the beneficiaries of the testamentary trust. 

IRREVOCABLE TRUST PLANNING

An irrevocable trust is most commonly used to make irrevocable gifts to third parties. While irrevocable trusts may offer creditor protection for the assets placed in this type of trust, as well as income and estate tax savings, you will typically no longer have control over the trust assets or the ability to significantly modify the trust terms. It is important to discuss your planning goals prior to creating an irrevocable trust. 

Living Wills (Advance Directives)

A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a written document that allows you to express whether you wish to receive life sustaining measures, such as life support and artificial nutrition and hydration, in the event you are unable to express your preferences. A living will is used in the event you have a terminal illness or are in a persistent vegetative state.

Why have a living will? A living will is made in advance of medical necessity, and provides you with the opportunity to consider your options while you are still competent. The need for and administration of life sustaining measures is a very emotional and sensitive issue. This document provides guidance to your medical providers and your loved ones as to your wishes. Living wills provide your loved ones with comfort by understanding your medical preferences during this difficult time.

GENERAL DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY

A general durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to authorize a third party, known as an agent, to act on your behalf to make financial decisions if and when you are unable to make such decisions on your own.

Why do you need a general durable power of attorney? In the event you become incapacitated, your agent may step in and make business decisions on your behalf or assist with your everyday personal financial matters. A general durable power of attorney is also frequently used when you travel outside of the country. If you are unavailable to complete a financial transaction while you are away, your agent may act on your behalf. 

A general durable power of attorney may be effective prior to and/or during your incapacity, but is no longer valid upon your death.

DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE

A durable power of attorney for health care, also referred to as a medical power of attorney, is a legal document that allows you to authorize an agent to act on your behalf to make medical decisions if and when you are unable to make medical decisions on your own. 

Why do you need a medical power of attorney? Perhaps you are in an automobile accident and are rendered unconscious, or you have Alzheimers and are no longer able to make medical decisions, or are under anesthesia and your medical provider requires a decision immediately. A medical power of attorney provides protection in the event of your incapacity.

Your agent may be given the authority to make medical decisions such as providing or withholding informed consent for medical or surgical treatments, nursing care, hospitalization, nursing home care, and organ donation. You should discuss your medical preferences with your agent to aid him/her in their decision making process.