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Colorado Estate Planning And Estate Settlement Legal Blog

How to choose the right trustee for your estate plan

There are many reasons why someone planning an estate in Colorado will want to include a trust as part of that plan. If the estate has substantial assets, a trust can protect heirs and beneficiaries from estate taxes. If there is worry about dispute within the family about the distribution of assets, moving those assets into a trust can make it harder for your family members to change your intended legacy.

Trusts can also help you provide for a special needs child, a loved one with a serious addiction or spending problem, and even a charity that you support. The benefits and overall flexibility of trusts make them a great inclusion in many people's estate plans.

Estate planning steps that help you avoid litigation

If you go through all the trouble of creating an estate plan, you obviously have a legacy you wish to leave behind. Sadly, the beneficiaries of your last will and your family members may not respect your legacy as you intend it. Instead, they may have their own expectations and wishes regarding the assets you leave behind when you die.

Dissatisfied heirs and beneficiaries can challenge your estate plan or last will in court. They can also bring a challenge against the administrator or executor for your estate. Thankfully, there are certain steps that you can take during the estate planning process that will drastically reduce the potential of litigation during probate administration.

Work with your attorney to set up a trust regardless of value

You may not be the wealthiest person on the planet (to be serious, few people are), but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't protect what you do have. A trust is a great way to do that.

Some people believe that trusts are something for the wealthy and well-to-do, but the truth is that a trust can be a good choice for anyone with any assets to protect. Even if your only asset is going to be life insurance, that is enough to consider setting up a trust to receive those funds.

Do you worry about your parent's ability to live independently?

As we grow up from adolescence to adulthood, living independently is often a source of anxiety and pride. Young people want to prove themselves to the world by striking out on their own and building a life for themselves.

For many people, that sense of independence and self-sufficiency is inherent to who they are as an individual. Many older adults struggle with the idea of being dependent on others for any part of their care or daily needs. Whether it's financial support or medical care, many older Americans are reticent to admit when they need help.

How does a trust end once it is created?

Trusts are one of the most essential estate planning tools in use today, and there are many kinds of trusts to choose from when considering your options. However, no matter what type of trust you use, they all must come to an end one way or another.

If you've done much research into estate planning, you know that there are a wide variety of trusts that offer different advantages and restrictions, but you may not have a clear picture of how a trust ends. Of course, all trusts do end. The important part when creating a trust and considering when it will terminate is making sure to plan for the ending just as one plans other aspects, like creation and payout of assets.

Have you allocated funds to pay an executor in your last will?

There are so many important decisions you need to make when setting up your last will and estate plan. People can overlook some of the more important considerations, perhaps because they aren't familiar with standards for last wills and estate administration.

The average person creating a last will understands how important it is to name the right person as executor of the estate or trustee. Too often, the testator may overlook specifically allocating compensation to the executor for their efforts.

Money and trusts: How much do you really need?

When you think about a trust, you probably think about million dollar accounts for wealthy individuals. The reality is that most trusts aren't for the rich and famous but rather for people of lower incomes. Trusts can be beneficial for people of all backgrounds, even if they only have a few thousand dollars.

One thing you may not have known is that you can open a trust with little to no assets. Normally, you wouldn't do this unless you have a valid reason to do so, because it would be costly to maintain the small number of assets. Here's a little bit more about how much money you really need to open a trust fund.

4 times you should update your will

If you have already written a will, you might think that you have done all the estate planning you need to do. However, creating an estate plan and letting it gather dust for 10, 20 or 30 years is one of the biggest mistakes people make with their end-of-life decisions. Whether you have a will, living trust or a health care directive, you need to periodically review these documents to make sure they still reflect your wishes.

Most estate planners recommend that people review and update their documents every five years. In addition, there are some life events that should trigger you to take action and make any necessary changes to your estate plan.

Medicaid crisis plans: When are they needed most?

In the best of circumstances, Colorado residents will have set up a financial plan that protects their assets if it becomes necessary for them to enter into a long-term care facility. When a viable financial strategy is in place, well in advance of the need, individuals can pay for their long-term care with Medicaid benefits rather than depleting their personal assets.

Such a long-term care strategy must be in place at least five years before the long-term care expenses begin to accrue -- otherwise the Medicaid five-year look-back period will prevent them from qualifying for Medicaid. In these circumstances, it's necessary to create what's called a "Medicaid crisis plan."

What can you do to avoid inheritance disputes?

Your parents got into an inheritance dispute years ago. You watched as siblings argued with one another and said things they could never take back. You watched the whole process drag out in court. You watched as family members stopped talking to one another, even for years after the legal battle had ended.

In setting up your own estate plan, you have one goal: no disputes. It is not that nothing else matters, but that goal is more important than anything else. You do not want to see the estate push your own children apart the way it did to your parents. You have always valued your close-knit family and you want to preserve it in every way that you can.

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