Does it matter what city I live in?
State, yes. City, no. That is why we do not recommend the “do-it-yourself” Wills online or by software, because the form they use may or may not be 100% kosher with Colorado law, but there are no laws by county or city that would hinder your estate plan.
What does it take to create a Will?
- What do you have?
- Who do you want to leave it to?
For the most part, that is all there is to a Will. Colorado even accepts hand-written Wills, though not all states do. Your Will must be signed by yourself and two witnesses before a Notary Public and then notarized. The Will, however, is only a piece of the estate planning puzzle.
What can I do in my Will?
Anything legal: Leave things to family, friends, charities, or even pets. You can add restrictions as to how, when, or under what circumstance they receive the inheritance. Through the Will you can create a trust that starts after you die. You can, of course, leave special notes to loved ones. Most importantly, something that is not covered in state law should you die without a Will, you can be sure to include such people as step-children, friends, significant others, or even ex-spouses.
What if I don't know who to leave my "stuff" to?
That is also entirely up to you. There will be one overall beneficiary as a catch-all for anything that you do not specifically list. It could be family or friends, but it could also be a favorite charity, a church, the government, or give the final decision to someone else through a Power of Appointment. Who would best benefit from your “stuff”?
What if I die and my children are still minors? What can they get?
As minors, the answer is no, however you can leave it to a Conservator to manage or prepare a separate Trust. Even in a Trust, you will have to name someone to manage the assets until they are of legal age. You can leave instructions for the Trustee, including restrictions or guidance on how to manage the assets and how and when to give the assets of the trust to the children. This is especially good for things like cars and the need for a driver’s license.
Will an estate plan help me preserve my assets? What about Medicaid?
Set up your plan at least 5 years before applying for Medicaid. You can move your assets into trusts, taking them out of your hands and out of the need to tell Medicaid about them.
What is Probate?
In a nutshell, probate is what we call the court process for transferring property of someone who has died. It can be very simple if there is an adaquate Will involved and/or if the estate is of little value. The objective is the payment of any debts owed by the deceased and the change of legal ownership of all remaining assets.
Why should I worry about avoiding Probate?
Avoiding Probate means taking on the time of any fighting over assets that comes along. Such fighting also requires several filings with the court and often uses up an estate just in the administration costs.
Can Probate help me?
Yes. It limits your liability as the representative of the estate since the Court must approve all transfers. It also shortens the time limit for creditors to make claims against the estate.
Do I need an attorney to go through Probate?
Consult one before deciding, but typically the smaller the estate in number of overall assets (yes, all the way down to those vacation pictures and collector mugs) the less of a chance of running into problems, and, of course, the more simple estate, the easier it is to handle.