Estate Planning

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Estate Planning

Estate Planning in Colorado

Estate planning is the process whereby families develop a plan that ensures that the assets they have worked so hard accumulating during their lifetime are protected and distributed to those they love after their death.Sound estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. No two people, no two families, no two estates are the same, and they shouldn’t be treated as though they were with mass-produced thumb-drive “estate plans.” The objective is to make sure your estate is handled promptly, efficiently, inexpensively and with minimal (or better yet, no) court involvement or litigation, all while minimizing or eliminating estate taxes. That’s our estate planning mission statement. While often a “simple” will that might be available at legal assistance offices will be more than adequate, many such offices do not have attorneys who specialize and may feel uncomfortable handling anything more complicated. This has proven problematic in some cases. For example, where there is a blended family the children of the first to die may find themselves completely cut off from their parent’s estate and cherished heirlooms and keepsakes. In such cases the relatively modest “savings” in getting a standard will is the bargain of a lifetime compared with the costs of probate when the disappointed children march their step-parent off to court. To adapt an old phrase, “a two-hour visit to the estate planning attorney is worth a two-year ordeal in probate court.”

Disability Planning

Although probate in Colorado is relatively straightforward and quick, court-ordered guardianships and conservatorships for an incapacitated person can be wrenching, time-consuming, and expensive. Estate planning should always take into account contingency planning for temporary or even permanent disability, including Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Because going to court to gain authority to handle the affairs for a loved one or family member is so emotionally and financially taxing, keeping up-to-date powers of attorney is vital to guarding against needless expense and delay. A living trust can also be extremely valuable in planning for a disabled spouse. Skip has long been interested in helping to keep families together and intact at such times. While at the Air Force Academy, he took charge of the Air Force’s Personal Estate Planning team and was lauded by The Judge Advocate General of the Air Force as the best estate-planning attorney in the Air Force. Since then, he has tackled the job with passion and determination, authoring articles on the subject for the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) in their monthly publication The Eagle. Skip has been a powerful voice for the disabled and marginalized, drafting probate legislation adding legal protection for incapacitated persons, testifying before the Colorado Assembly on a number of probate-related legislation, and winning the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition’s Integration Award in 2008. To get an idea of his philosophy and approach to this and other topics copies of some of those articles are available under articles and publications.

Skip offers estate planning clients effective estate-planning solutions in the following areas:

  • Advanced medical directives
  • Business succession planning
  • Charitable giving
  • Conservatorships and guardianships
  • Disability planning, including disability trusts
  • Durable powers of attorney
  • Estate tax planning
  • Income trusts for Medicaid planning
  • Integrating probate and non-probate assets
  • Investment properties
  • Life insurance trusts
  • Living wills
  • Supplemental (Special) Needs Trusts
  • Medical durable powers of attorney
  • Military pension benefits
  • Powers of attorney for property and financial matters
  • Pre- and post-marital agreements
  • Retirement interests
  • Revocable and irrevocable trusts
  • Trust Amendment
  • Survivor benefit plans (SBP)
  • Veterans Aid and Attendance Pensions
  • Wills and testaments

To learn more about Skip’s estate-planning practice, please contact him today.