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Denver Estate Planning Lawyer

It’s easy to put off estate planning until tomorrow or later in life, but unexpected events can occur anytime, and tomorrow is never guaranteed. When unexpected events happen, having a well-thought-out and legally binding estate plan can make all the difference for you and your loved ones.

When you meet with a Denver estate planning lawyer at Colorado Estate Matters, we’ll work to create a complete estate plan that can be as simple or complex as you need. Still, it will typically include a minimum of the following: a will or trust, powers of attorney, and a living will.

At Colorado Estate Matters, Ltd., our team of Colorado estate planning attorneys is dedicated to helping our clients create comprehensive estate plans that fit their unique needs and goals to ensure that they will be carried out exactly as intended. Contact us online or at (303) 713-9147 to schedule your consultation.

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Colorado Estate Matters Protects You Against Estate Planning Fraud

It is understandable why a relative might contest estate planning decisions, especially if they believe they deserve a larger estate share. This dissatisfaction often prompts fraudulent attempts during the estate planning phase and the probate process following an individual’s death.

The invalidation of a fraudulently-executed will occurs during the probate process, necessitating potentially prolonged litigation to establish the will’s validity. Here’s how our Denver estate planning lawyer can protect you against estate planning fraud.

Safeguarding the integrity of your will

Your will, a crucial legal document outlining asset distribution without named beneficiaries, must reflect your true wishes. Estate planning decisions, especially those perceived as unfavorable by relatives, may lead to fraudulent attempts during the planning process and subsequent probate proceedings.

Invalidating fraudulent wills

A fraudulently executed will be deemed invalid during probate but only after lengthy litigation to ascertain its validity.

Identifying fraudulent elements within a will

Forged signatures

  • A will may be fraudulent if signed by someone other than the testator.
  • Witnesses and a notary are typically required during the signing process.
  • Consider video recording the signing for added proof in case of later challenges.

Undue influence

  • Undue influence occurs when external forces compel testators to alter their will against their free will.
  • Common in elderly and affluent populations.
  • Warning signs include abrupt family communication cutoffs and the sudden inclusion of a new beneficiary.

Lack of capacity

  • The testator must be of sound mind when signing the will.
  • Proving a lack of capacity can be challenging but is crucial for invalidation.

Holding fiduciaries accountable

Frequently, the responsibility of settling an estate and distributing its assets is entrusted to a fiduciary, an attorney, a trustee, a personal representative, an administrator, or an executor. This fiduciary assumes a position of trust and is accountable for holding and managing the property belonging to the beneficiaries.

This entrusted role carries specific legal obligations to the estate’s beneficiaries, including duties of care and loyalty. In the capacity of a personal representative or administrator, a fiduciary duty represents a legal obligation to act in the best interest of the estate’s beneficiaries. Colorado law outlines several responsibilities and duties for these individuals, encompassing the following.

Fiduciary duties

  • Fiduciaries, such as attorneys or personal representatives, manage estate assets and owe legal obligations to beneficiaries.
  • Duties include acting in the best interest of the grantor and beneficiaries, avoiding conflicts, and timely asset distribution.

Protection against fiduciary misconduct

When a personal representative or administrator breaches these duties, initiating legal action may become necessary to recuperate financial losses and hold the fiduciary accountable for the damages resulting from the breach. Breaches take many forms, including:

  • Misappropriating estate or trust assets.
  • Commingling trust assets with personal funds.
  • Using assets for personal gain.
  • Withholding assets from beneficiaries.
  • Delaying property distribution.
  • Mishandling trust property.
  • Neglecting the trust which leads to asset devaluation.
  • Failing to disclose pertinent information to beneficiaries.
  • Misrepresenting facts or estate conditions.
  • Engaging in fraudulent activity
  • Legal action may be necessary to recover losses caused by breaches.

The way forward after fraud

If a breach is established, the court can order various remedies, including fee forfeitures and removal of the fiduciary for breach of duty. Protecting against fraud requires vigilance and understanding of legal rights in the estate planning and administration processes.

What’s included in our comprehensive Denver estate plans?

An effective estate plan should encompass the following key elements.

Incapacity instructions,

Here you can outline directives for managing your care and financial matters in the event of your mental and/or physical incapacity.

Insurance provisions

  • Establish arrangements for disability income insurance to replace lost income in the case of an inability to work due to illness or injury.
  • Include long-term care insurance to support extended care needs resulting from illness or injury financially.
  • Integrate life insurance to ensure the provision for your family in the event of your death.

Business transfer planning

Provide a framework for seamless business transfer, whether upon retirement, disability, incapacity, or death.

Guardianship for minor children

Designate a guardian for the care and inheritance management of your minor children.

Special needs considerations

Address the financial needs of family members with special requirements, ensuring their eligibility for government benefits remains unaffected.

Financial responsibility and creditor protection

Cater to the financial well-being of individuals who may struggle with money management or require protection from creditors or potential divorce situations.

Tax and legal efficiency

Strategically minimize taxes, court expenses, and unnecessary legal fees by funding assets into a living trust, updating beneficiary designations, and aligning assets with the overall estate plan.

Estate planning is a continuous and evolving process rather than a one-time occurrence. Regularly review and update your plan to adapt to changes in family dynamics, financial circumstances, and legal changes throughout your lifetime.

The many benefits of working with a Colorado Estate Matters Denver estate planning lawyer

Consider estate planning for numerous compelling reasons. Collaborating with an attorney to reorganize your assets can yield several advantages for both you and your loved ones. Below are just a few benefits.

1. Preserving asset distribution

Ensure your assets land in the intended hands. Even if your estate is modest, without proper planning, uncertainties arise: Disputes among family members may jeopardize your wishes, or the court may not align with your preferences when left to decide without your guidance. A clear will is essential to specify your desires, securing the welfare of your loved ones posthumously.

2. Safeguarding your children

Estate planning allows you to designate a guardian who shares your values. Engage in open communication with potential guardians to ensure their willingness and suitability for the responsibility. Failure to name a guardian leaves the decision to the court, potentially subjecting your children to guardianship arrangements contrary to your wishes.

3. Mitigating tax impacts

The IRS can significantly diminish asset values through state and federal taxes, but estate planning provides avenues to prepare for and mitigate these tax implications. Strategies such as gifting, charitable donations, and Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts can be explored and tailored to your circumstances. Consulting with an attorney is crucial to understanding the options to minimize taxation on your estate.

4. Resolving disputes

Posthumous disputes over asset distribution can strain family relationships during a challenging time. A well-crafted legal document detailing estate distribution minimizes the potential for arguments. By clearly stipulating asset recipients, you can preserve harmony within your family and preserve relationships even after your passing.

denver estate planning lawyer family

Our Denver estate plans can give you the power to plan for your future

When a person dies without a will in place (intestate), their assets are subject to Colorado’s laws of intestate succession, which include a very specific set of instructions that may not follow the decedent’s wishes, which could leave their loved ones frustrated, angry, and disappointed. This process is often more complicated and more expensive for their heirs than if they had taken the time to create an estate plan.

In contrast, when a person dies with a plan in place, their assets are distributed according to the wishes laid out in their documents. This allows them to have control over what will happen to their hard-earned assets and have peace of mind for their loved ones after they’ve passed.

Estate plans aren’t only for the wealthy

A good Denver estate planning lawyer will tell you that you don’t need to have significant assets to benefit from a solid estate plan.

For example, if you have minor children, you should name a guardian who will care for them in the event of your death. You might want certain sentimental items to go to specific family members or friends, something that might not be achieved if not for a will. You might have specific wishes for your medical care if you’re no longer able to make those decisions.

Trusts, health care directives, assisted living plans, and powers of attorney are all part of estate planning and are all customizable to fit your specific needs. Working with our estate planning lawyers will help ensure that you choose the right tools for your unique circumstances.

Who could benefit the most from a solid estate plan in Denver?

While anyone can benefit from an estate plan, certain groups need one most pertinently. If any of the following describes you, don’t wait to consult with a Colorado estate planning lawyer:

  • Parents of minor children or children with special needs
  • People with substantial assets
  • People with disabilities
  • Seniors
Learn More

Estate planning documents we know can help you and your family achieve your goals

Whatever your situation, having a comprehensive estate plan in place helps reduce financial and familial risk in the future. A Denver estate planning lawyer from our firm would make sure your complete estate plan includes the following:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Living Will
  • Trusts
  • Living Trusts
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Disposition of final remains
  • Assets and contact lists
  • Property memorandums
  • And more, depending on your specific needs

The compassionate team of lawyers at Colorado Estate Matters, Ltd. has the know-how to help you easily navigate the estate planning process.

When you work with a reputable estate attorney in Denver, you can be confident that your documents will be prepared based on your wishes and in compliance with Colorado law.

Assisted living and long-term care plans

If you’re concerned about the cost of long-term care, we can help you develop an assisted living plan, also known as a long-term care plan, which can help ensure you can afford the care you need without depleting your life savings. This can involve anything from purchasing long-term care insurance to creating a trust to pay for your care.

Medicaid and disability planning

The cost of care for disabled people can be significant, and conventional health insurance often doesn’t cover these costs. Medicaid can help you pay for care should the need arise, but it has strict eligibility requirements, so proactive planning is essential. Our attorneys can help you prepare for the possibility of disability and ensure that you’ll be able to access the care that you might need.

Powers of attorney

You can establish a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, or both, giving another person the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. This can be helpful if you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions independently.

Advanced healthcare directives

An advanced healthcare directive is a document that allows you to express your wishes regarding your medical care if you cannot communicate them yourself. This can include everything regarding your preferences for end-of-life care, being resuscitated, or whether or not you want your organs donated.

Life insurance trusts

A life insurance trust is created to own a life insurance policy but with extra potential benefits, such as keeping the policy proceeds out of your estate for tax purposes and better controlling how the proceeds are used.

Revocable and irrevocable trusts

A trust is a legal entity that can own property and assets on your behalf. A revocable trust can be modified or dissolved at any time as long as you are alive and competent. On the other hand, an irrevocable trust cannot be modified or dissolved once created.

Wills and testamentary trusts

A will is a document that describes how you would like your property and assets to be distributed when you die. A testamentary trust is a trust that’s created by a will and can be used to provide for minor children or disabled adults or to control how your assets are distributed after your death.

Special needs trusts

A special needs trust is uniquely crafted to support individuals with disabilities, providing them with supplementary financial resources while preserving their eligibility for crucial government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Asset protection plans

Suppose you’re concerned about the possibility of losing your assets to creditors or lawsuits. In that case, our asset protection planning services can help you shield your assets from unexpected legal claims while still allowing you to access them if you need them.

Learn More: Essential documents for estate planning.

Do you need a Denver estate planning lawyer?

The future is impossible to predict, but proper estate planning can help you be prepared for whatever might come your way.

If you’re ready to move into your future with the peace of mind that you and your estate will be handled appropriately should an unfortunate situation arise, contact our Colorado estate planning attorney. To schedule your consultation, contact us online or call (303) 713-9147. We look forward to serving you.

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Justin W. Blow

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Common Probate Questions

What is probate in Colorado?
Probate in Colorado is the legal process by which a deceased person’s assets are distributed and their debts are paid under court supervision.
When is probate necessary in Colorado?
Probate is typically required when a person dies with assets solely in their name, and those assets exceed a certain value, or there’s any real estate. The threshold amount changes over time, so checking the current limits is essential.
How do I start the probate process in Colorado?
To initiate probate in Colorado, you need to determine if formal probate is required, and then file an Application or a Petition (as well as the necessary ancillary documents) with the appropriate court, depending on the circumstances.
What assets are subject to probate in Colorado?
Generally, assets that are solely owned by the deceased, such as real estate, bank accounts, and personal property, are subject to probate. Jointly owned assets with rights of survivorship, assets held in a trust, and assets with designated beneficiaries typically bypass probate.
How long does the probate process take in Colorado?
The duration of probate in Colorado can vary depending on the complexity of the estate and any disputes that may arise. Often it takes a year or more to complete.
What are the costs associated with probate in Colorado?
Probate costs in Colorado can include court fees, attorney fees, personal representative fees, and other administrative expenses. These costs can vary based on the size and complexity of the estate.
Can I avoid probate in Colorado?
Yes, there are strategies to avoid probate in Colorado, such as creating a revocable living trust, using beneficiary designations on assets like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, and jointly owning property with rights of survivorship.
What are the rights and responsibilities of a personal representative in Colorado?
The personal representative (executor or administrator) is responsible for managing the estate, paying certain debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries in accordance with the law and the deceased person’s will (if one exists).
How are disputes handled in Colorado probate cases?
Disputes in Colorado probate cases can be resolved through mediation, negotiation, or litigation in court if necessary. Common disputes may involve the validity of the will, claims by creditors, or disagreements among beneficiaries.
Is estate tax a concern in Colorado probate?

Colorado does not have a state-level estate tax, but federal estate tax may apply to larger estates. It’s important to consider federal tax implications when dealing with an estate.

Is estate tax a concern in Colorado probate?

Colorado does not have a state-level estate tax, but federal estate tax may apply to larger estates. It’s important to consider federal tax implications when dealing with an estate.
 It’s essential to consult with an attorney or legal professional experienced in Colorado probate law to get accurate and up-to-date information and guidance on your probate matter.

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