What is an estate plan? It is a series of documents in which you provide instructions and declarations regarding your care if you were ever mentally or physically incapacitated and specifies how your assets should be distributed upon your death. An estate plan is created with an attorney and may involve several meetings or discussions in which the attorney will ask questions designed to gather information about your financial, medical and family issues to prepare your planning documents. It also may entail your attorney working with your other professional advisors, such as your financial planner or CPA, in order to gather necessary information and develop a plan which best suits your needs.
Having this type of legal plan in place in the event of your death or disability is incredibly important, no matter what stage of life you are in. It provides the necessary legal authority for making your medical and financial decisions if you are not able to do so. It also provides an opportunity for you to legally ensure the care and support of your loved ones when you are gone, whether specifying guardians for minor children, protecting your spouse from potential estate taxation, and/or transferring the assets which you worked hard to earn in a manner most beneficial for your family members. Good estate planning gives you a voice to express your wishes on critical issues when you are no longer able to do so.
Why should you work with an attorney to develop the right estate plan for you?
· Every individual and family has their own unique circumstances; cookie-cutter internet forms do not fit every situation, and their misuse can have unintended consequences.
· A good attorney knows the questions to ask and will work with you to develop a plan most appropriate for your current situation. That attorney is also a valuable resource for determining when and how the plan has to be updated as those circumstances or the laws change over time.
· There are many misconceptions out there about the need for trusts and avoidance of probate; for most families with modest estates in Colorado, estate planning does not have to be a complicated or expensive process.
Wick & Trautwein has several attorneys who specialize in this legal area. They enjoy working with clients on a regular basis to design an estate plan that fits their clients' specific needs and wishes, to answer their questions and guide them through the process, and to give them the peace of mind that comes with having their affairs in order. Please give us a call if you would like to talk more about what might be involved in doing the same thing for you.
Written by Kimberly B. Schutt, Esq.