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Planning For Your Future

A trust may be a better option for a child with an addiction

If the opioid epidemic is any indication of the number of people who have substance abuse problems, then numerous families here in Colorado and across the country suffer from an addiction. If your child is one of them, then you may do what you can to help. Even if your child wants to get clean, it isn't always easy.

When you start the estate planning process, you may wonder how to leave your child an inheritance without risking it going to purchase drugs or alcohol. The last thing you want is to contribute to your son's or daughter's addiction. What can you do?

Estate planning can help avoid unnecessary complications

Many people acquire a considerable number of assets and people they love throughout their lifetimes. You and many other Colorado residents may cherish all the wonderful things that life has brought you, but you may also wonder what happens to those assets and loved ones after your passing.

Fortunately, estate planning can help you lessen the unknown by planning ahead and leaving behind wishes for your surviving family and friends to follow. You may not think that creating an estate plan is necessary for you, but really, it can have several benefits that you may not have considered.

How online estate plans can let you down

Only about 40 percent of adults in the U.S. have a will or other form of estate plan. That means more than half of those who pass away leave their assets and the welfare of their families in the hands of the state. If you are among the 60 percent with no plan in place for the end of your life, you may be considering how to make that right.

Like many in Colorado and across the country, you have probably explored the tempting online alternatives for estate planning. They are cheap and offer an array of options, supposedly meeting whatever goals you have for your plan. However, before you place your trust in one of these online documents, you may wish to understand how complex estate planning really is and how poorly an online will may meet your needs.

Estate planning for a special needs child

Whatever the circumstances that resulted in your child's special needs – whether through an accident, birth injury or birth defect – your life may be very different from what you expected. Perhaps you had to move or remodel your Colorado house. You had to radically alter your dreams for your child's future. Your plans to begin setting a little something back for your retirement probably changed dramatically because your attention shifted to providing for the extraordinary needs of your child.

While you devote most of your time and energy to your child, you know you will not be able to do this forever, and at some point, you will no longer be there to meet your child's needs. Your first thought may be to leave your child a substantial inheritance or life insurance benefit that will cover the cost of in-home care, medical expenses, occupational training and whatever other needs your child may have. However, without proper planning, you may create a terrible situation for your child.

Could your parent need a conservator or guardian?

It can be a humbling experience to see parents grow older. Over the years, you may have noticed them not having the same energy and drive they once had, and you could have seen them having to retire from their favorite hobbies as the physical woes of old age took their toll. While you may have felt a pang of sympathy for your parents in this type of situation, you may not have felt the need to step in and start taking care of tasks for them.

More recently, however, you may have had a growing concern over your mom or dad's ability to care for him or herself due to lapses in judgment or memory. This concern may be even greater if one of your parents has already passed, and your loved one lives alone.

The stages of your estate plan

Estate planning is not a single event, but it grows and changes as your life and goals evolve. You may be among those who believe creating an estate plan is something you put off until you are older, thinking of retiring or even close to death.

The first flaw in this way of thinking is that few people can predict when their lives will end. The second flaw is that postponing the creation of an estate plan can mean missing out on opportunities to protect and provide for your loved ones.

Who really needs a health care power of attorney?

Estate planning is an important step for everyone, but not every estate plan is the same. What you need as part of your plan depends on your needs, goals and individual situation. Some Colorado readers may find a simple will to be sufficient, but you may need additional protection in order to ensure the well-being of yourself and your loved ones.

If you are considering what you need as part of your estate plan, you may find it beneficial to think about adding a health care power of attorney. This document can allow you a measure of control over the details of your health care in case of a medical emergency or incapacitation.

The options and benefits available in planning your estate

If you are considering planning the future, like many others, you may feel somewhat intimidated at the concept of forming a strategy for the unknown. Life is full of surprises, some favorable and others perhaps less so, and having an estate plan in place to cover as many scenarios as possible could prove invaluable.

Despite your reservations, you may feel it is vital to have a strategy in place to account for certain changes in life. However, with little to no experience in the area, you could be uncertain how best to approach the situation.

Challenging a will is a challenge all in itself

Have you recently lost a loved one? Do you have concerns about the state of his or her estate? If you do, you are not the first person to feel that way. Numerous Colorado residents have questioned their loved one's wills. If necessary, it is possible to challenge a will, though doing so may be challenging all in itself.

It is impossible to please everyone when it comes to writing wills. It is not necessarily the easiest thing to do. Challenging a will is not about someone being unhappy with what he or she is not getting, though. Challenging a will is about questioning its validity, usually due to last-minute changes.

Do you have a plan for your online accounts?

The transition from a paper society to digital has been gradual. Most people were slow to hop onto Facebook and other social media, figuring it was a fleeting invention where something new would come along and replace it. Then the kids started using it to share pictures of the grandchildren, and instant messaging offered easier communication with distant family.

In many parts of life, digital items have replaced physical products. Most estate plans, however, only discuss three-dimensional physical property. As you plan ahead, what happens to all of your digital assets?