Estate planning for individuals in Colorado

For many individuals, there is a point in their lives when they start seriously thinking about their future. "What will happen if and when I get too sick to act on my own behalf?" "What will happen to my property when I pass away?" These questions typically arise after the birth of a child, the death of a loved one or other life changing events, such as the debilitating sickness of a friend or family member.

Many realize that they need to take steps to provide for their families if things happen unexpectedly. There are many issues that need to be considered when someone sits down to discuss an estate plan.

In Colorado, a major component of estate planning concerns dealing with your affairs if you become incapacitated or disabled. An advanced directive for medical treatment details what happens if an individual's life is threatened or impaired by a medical condition, including the number and type of health care treatments and procedures that should be provided at various stages of an illness.

A person can appoint an agent under a medical power of attorney to assist with medical treatment and other decisions at any time when incapacity or disability prevents the person from acting on his or her own behalf. Moreover, a person can appoint an agent under a general power of attorney to act with respect to their financial and other non-medical affairs if and when they need or want assistance.

The next major component concerns how property is handled upon a person's death and to whom it will be distributed. There are various ways to approach these decisions. A person's wishes can be set forth in a will, trust, beneficiary designation or in accordance with other distribution vehicles. Deciding which combination of the foregoing to utilize in an estate plan will depend on a person's own unique circumstances and there is by no means a "one size fits all" solution.

Tax considerations will play a major role in creating an estate plan. Both state and federal estate taxes can diminish an individual's assets, and it is important to have a full understanding of the exemptions that are in place to protect assets from excessive taxation.

Business owners also have issues that they need to be concerned about when drafting their documents. This includes a succession for management and clear instructions as to how business interests should be handled upon an owner's passing. If this information is not recorded in a clear manner, the family may argue over who gets control over the business, which can lead to serious issues.

Once an individual has implemented an estate plan, it is extremely important to be sure that the information contained in the executed documents continue to accurately reflect his or her final wishes. Families can change dramatically over time. Whether due to divorce, disputes or an unexpected passing, some individuals named in the will, trust or power of attorney may need to be removed. If this is not done, there can be unintended consequences.

You may not know what you need to do to ensure that you have a comprehensive estate plan in place. The first step in this process is to consult an experienced estate planning attorney in your area. An attorney can help you create a plan that ensures that your wishes are protected and your assets are preserved. An estate plan is more than a set of legal documents; it is an essential factor towards attaining piece of mind.