You have probably heard that your friends or family are going through the “estate planning” process and are wondering what it is and whether it is something you should consider for yourself.

The estate planning process is a comprehensive review of your family, financial, tax and health situation to arrive at a set of documents which create a roadmap in directing your agents and representatives to carry out your desires and intentions.  That roadmap is necessary if your health deteriorates; you are unable to manage your affairs; or you pass away. The estate planning process gives you an opportunity to designate who are you agents, for example  who is going to be the guardian or custodian of your children; who is going to manage your checkbook,  pay your bills and manage your assets; and  Who is going to make important health care  decisions for you. The estate planning process also provides you an opportunity to determine who is going to receive the benefits of your property remaining after your passing and in what proportion.  Is your estate going to be divided among your spouse and children and in what proportion? Do you wish to make provision for a dear friend or a charity? In the estate planning process you can disinherit a family member from receiving benefits (except to the extent marital benefits are statutorily provided for). You can limit the benefits going to a beneficiary or have those benefits held in a trust for a beneficiary, because they are unable to manage or conserve property, or if to receive those benefits would disqualify them from receiving benefits from other governmental programs such as social security disability or medicare.

If you do not plan for yourself, your property will pass according to the legal provision of the Colorado Statutes concerning descent and distribution. You may wish to designate a person to speak or act on your behalf, not necessarily the most vocal or aggressive family member or the person who has priority under the Colorado statutes.

How do you begin putting an estate plan together? You will need to find an attorney experienced and capable of handling the complexities of the estate planning process with who you feel comfortable. Because estate planning often involves very personal facts and issues, candor and openness with your attorney is necessary. It is important to bear in mind, that your attorney/client communications are confidential and privileged. I have for many years, been helping individuals and families in planning their estate to fit their needs and intentions.

Vance E. Halvorson
© 2018