Does it matter what city I live in?
Thankfully, it only matters state-to-state, not city-to-city. If you live in Grand Junction and hire us to help you with your estate plan, it will still work in the state of Colorado. Issues crop up with regards to property in other states, estate plans done in other states, or estate plans done without an attorney or through do-it-yourself systems. In such cases, the estate plan may or may not work as you have planned. Call to set an appointment to examine what you have in a FREE initial consultation.
What does it take to create a Will?
First, you need to know what you have, and who you want to leave it to. You need to consider if there are any conditions you want to impose with any of your gifts. In Colorado, you can write your Will by hand, but be warned that many other states will not accept it. Your Will needs to be signed, and should be notarized and have signatures of two witnesses. Though it can be done without an attorney, it should not be done without at least consulting an estate planning professional. This will ensure that your Will meets all requirements and accomplishes your goals.
What can I do in my Will?
The short answer is that you can do anything legal with your belongings. You can leave them to friends, charities, or even your pets. You can restrict certain individuals in how, when, or under what circumstance they can receive their gift. Some common examples of restrictions include: “to my son, when he turns 35…”, “to my niece, only to be used for her secondary education costs…”, or “my car is to be sold, and the proceeds divided between my grandchildren….”. You can create a trust that starts after you die. You can leave notes to loved ones (i.e. “I know Susie wanted the china cabinet, but she has no space for it, and has decided to be a foreign missionary. I love her dearly, but it would be a burden to her. I know Carrie will enjoy it and be able to care for it.” You can be sure anyone you want is included, such as step-children, friends, significant others, or even ex-spouses.
What if I don’t know who to leave my “stuff” to?
Ultimately, you will need to pick some kind of beneficiary. However, it does not have to be family or friends. You can leave it to your favorite charity, to a church, to a government, or even give someone else the power to make the final choice (also called a power of appointment). Just think about who you would like to have benefit from it.
What if I die and my children are still minors? Can they receive what I leave for them, like a house, or vehicle, or large sum of money?
Yes. You can either leave it to the children’s conservator to manage, or prepare a separate trust. You name someone in the Trust, a Trustee, to manage the assets. You leave instructions for the Trustee, which can include restrictions or guidance on how to manage the assets, and which will include instructions for how and when to give the assets to your children.
If I’m trying to qualify for Medicaid, will an estate plan still help me preserve assets?
Yes, if you set up the plan before you need to apply for Medicaid. Medicaid presently can go back over any transactions for the past 5 years, so you need to plan well in advance to get the most out of it. If you wait until it is time to apply, there is very little that can be done, though you can spend down more strategically.