In Colorado, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone decides what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you truly want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for truly implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these intentions.
In addition to decisions concerning the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For example, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your choice on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such arrangements for you, if you are unable.
A knowledgeable estate planner in Colorado may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Moreover, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in Colorado
Estate plans in Colorado almost always have these features:
Will: A will allows you to control what is done with your property after your death. You can usually give your property to whoever you want, and make these gifts conditional. However, a will can only control another person's behavior insofar as placing conditions on gifts ("you don't get this money unless you spend the night in a haunted house"). The beneficiary doesn't HAVE to do anything if they don't want to, and are willing to surrender the money or property you left them.
Power of Attorney: This is an arrangement that gives another person the power to make certain decisions, typically related to finances and medical care, on your behalf, if you become incapacitated or disabled, and consequently unable to make or express your own decisions. You can choose who you give this power to. For obvious reasons, it should be somebody you trust.
Funeral Arrangements: Obviously, deciding what you want done with your mortal remains is a very personal decision. However, once you have made this decision, you should put it in writing, in some place other than your will. You should also make your wishes known to your family members. This is because wills are often not read until days or weeks after the testator dies, by which point it may be too late to implement their wishes on this matter.
Do I Need a Colorado Estate Planning Attorney?
Because these decisions are so important in Colorado, it's almost never a bad idea to seek the counsel of an efficient wills, trusts, and estates attorney.
Interesting Facts About Colorado
Colorado is named after the multi-colored banks of the Colorado River. Its nickname is "The Centennial State", since it achieved statehood on the centennial year of the U.S. Declaration of Independence (1876). Former President Gerald Ford was from Colorado, as was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White.
Colorado lawyers usually assist clients at the trial court level in either the County Court system or the District Court system. Appeals are heard at Colorado's Court of Appeals or at the Colorado Supreme Court. Colorado also has a unique system of 7 different Water Courts, which preside over cases involving water rights and water usage. The Colorado Supreme Court has tried many infamous cases such as Kobe Bryant's 2003 assault case in Eagle County.
Colorado is also known for its immensely complex body of tax laws. This is due to the fact that Colorado operates over 3,000 different districts, each with individual taxing authority. Such districts include regulation over education, water, transportation, and other services. In Colorado, the sales tax rates may be different even from street to street.
Lawyers in Colorado have experience in dealing with the state's network of laws. Colorado lawyers work to provide clients with outstanding services and legal advice. You may contact an attorney in Colorado if you need help filing a lawsuit or if you need answers to legal questions.