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Alternatives to traditional estate planning documents

Estate planning might seem like a long, arduous and expensive undertaking. But in reality, this is hardly true. You don’t need a multi-million dollar estate to have a simple, yet logical, plan to distribute your assets when you pass away. Moreover, you don’t have to be intimidated by the prospect of spending thousands of dollars getting your affairs in order.

Indeed, the plethora of do-it-yourself aids and online services makes estate planning easier, but discussing your concerns and ideas with an estate planning attorney is invaluable. If you are simply uncomfortable with creating a will or taking the time to do one, there are a number of alternatives to consider.

Register your beneficiaries wherever applicable - Chances are that a conversation with an estate planning lawyer will involve proper registration of beneficiaries. This is an important designation because this action determines who will receive the benefits coming from a 401(k) account or an insurance policy. Also important is proper updates when life changes occur (i.e. divorce, another child being born)

Transfer on death deeds – Another alternative to a will is a transfer on death deed (TOD). This will immediately transfer legal ownership of property to a designated person upon the owner’s death. This designation is particularly important when a will cannot be found or a person passes away without a will. Other iterations of this type of deed include “payable on death” (POD) for checking and savings accounts.

Write a letter – If anything, a simple letter detailing one’s wishes may suffice in lieu of a will. However, the letter must satisfy Colorado’s requirements for holographic wills.

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