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Colorado Estate Planning And Estate Settlement Legal Blog

David Cassidy's will: Lessons about the importance of updates

People don't really like thinking about wills in the first place. Doing so is often painful and requires asking yourself a lot of difficult questions.

However, it's terribly important that even if you hate dealing with your will, you still set some time aside in order to review your will and other end-of-life documents once a year.

Estate planning for your business

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Succession planning for a business is a lot like estate planning is for your family. For many, business and personal lives are so intertwined, that planning for one is linked to planning for the other. Like estate planning, it is not something you want to put off doing to a later date.

No one knows what tomorrow holds. An illness or accident can disable a business owner -- or worse -- leaving co-owners, employees and shareholders without a clear direction to take the company.

Simplifying estate planning

Estate planning is a task that many people put off doing. As a matter of fact, a 2015 survey from revealed that 44 percent of parents in the United States do not have wills or living trusts. Is it because they do not understand the importance of having these documents in place?

It is more likely because they see estate planning as a drudging task, not to mention there may be some dreaded and possibly emotional conversations that need to take place with loved ones. It may simplify the process by following a blueprint of what you will need. For instance, if you are a parent or have heirs, your estate planning should include a:

  • Will and/or trust
  • Power of attorney
  • Health care proxy
  • Do not resuscitate or advance directive document

What taxes do I need to pay on a benefactor's estate?

If you are the beneficiary of an estate or property, you need to know what the laws are regarding estate taxes. Do you have to pay an estate or inheritance tax?

It depends on the state you live in and the state your benefactor lived in when he or she died. Colorado does not have an inheritance or estate tax. However, there are some states that do. If your benefactor lived in one of those states -- even if you do not -- you may have to pay a state inheritance tax.

Will you have to pay for your parents' health care costs?

Did you know that you may be responsible for paying your parents' medical bills and long-term care expenses? In certain circumstances, filial laws allow nursing homes and other types of care facilities to seek payments from you. If you live in Colorado but your parents live elsewhere, you may fall into that group.

What are filial responsibility laws?

Watch for signs your inheritance is being stolen

Inheritance theft is something that can happen right under your nose. You may have been told time and again that you're going to inherit something only to find out that when your parent, grandparent or other relative dies that whatever you were promised is gone or the bank accounts are nearly emptied.

Alternately, you may find that there's been a sudden change in the will -- a new one executed only a few months before your relative's death -- that leaves everything to someone else. Sometimes that "someone else" wasn't around much until lately -- but stepped in as soon as your relative's health or cognitive abilities began to fail.

What you may not know about long-term care planning

Did you know that 30 percent of seniors in Denver live on less than $20,000 per year? And 24 percent of those 60 years old or older receive food stamps? That is a whopping number of the aged population that probably have not planned for long-term health care.

If you didn't know that, you probably also didn't know that when it comes to long-term health care, low-income seniors may be more prepared than higher-income seniors. Not all higher-income seniors -- just those who have failed to include long-term health care in their estate planning or in their private insurance plans.

Don't forget your beneficiary designations when estate planning

Estate planning is complicated, and needs careful attention. Many people put it off, however, because it involves thinking about difficult topics like:

  • Our own mortality
  • The potential for incapacity or invalidity
  • Naming powers of attorney and health care proxies to handle financial matters and make medical decisions on our behalf if we are unable to do so
  • Gathering financial documentation, including bank and retirement account information, real estate titles, deeds, insurance policies
  • Inventorying assets
  • Making decisions about how our assets should be dispersed after we pass
  • Funeral/memorial arrangements

Considering long-term care insurance?

The expenses of round-the-clock nursing home care are exorbitant. Even mid-tier facilities in the Denver area with semi-private rooms can cost between $9,000 and $10,000 per month. According to a study by Genworth Financial, private rooms in high-end nursing homes in the huge Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metropolitan area can cost upwards of $230,000 annually.

These staggering costs can easily run through a lifetime's worth of saving and "pinching pennies" to provide a comfortable retirement. In just a few years, expenses can easily top $500,000 or even $1 million. You may be able to structure your estate in such a way to maintain eligibility for government benefits through Medicaid or Social Security, but that isn't always possible.

Does Medicaid pay for long-term nursing home care?

Medicaid actually pays for a majority of the nursing home costs in the United States; however, to qualify for long-term care, a person or couple must meet specific financial criteria, which varies by state.

What are the Medicaid guidelines for Colorado? Income guidelines for eligibility is based on the number of people in your household. Current income requirements are found at In addition to income requirements, the value of assets you and/or your spouse own must not exceed a specific amount. The following assets, however, do not count:

  • A home valued under $560,000
  • One car
  • Term life insurance policies
  • Burial policies that are irrevocable
  • Jointly owned property (dependent on when the property became jointly owned)
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