The Law Firm of Bruce A. Danford, LLC

There's no such thing as being 'too young' to write a will

When you're in your late teens, early 20s or 30s, you tend to think that you have a lot of time to continue living. Your next day isn't guaranteed though. Unexpected illnesses, accidents and other catastrophic events happen. This is one of the reasons that many legal analysts warn individuals to not put off writing their will.

In Colorado and almost every other jurisdiction in the country, individuals have to be 18 to draft their will. After you reach the age of majority, certain factors may motivate you to draft a will more than others.

When should you update your Colorado will?

Many people put off drafting a will because they think that they're not old or wealthy enough to have one. Even when individuals do sit down and draft one, they soon thereafter put it in a safe place and forget about it. Few people take the time to revisit them. Certain instances call for you to update your will though.

You should update your will any time that you get married. If you've found someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, then you probably want your assets to go to them if something happens to you. Unless you draft a will and designating your spouse as your beneficiary, then they could end up getting nothing under Colorado intestate succession laws.

Cleaning out your parent's house

If death came suddenly, your parent may not have had time to purge and organize the house. On the other hand, if your parent had been ill for a long time, he or she may not have had the energy to sort through important documents or appraise valuable objects. As the executor or personal representative of the estate, that job now falls to you.

Whether your parent signed a will or left the estate unprepared, at some point, you will have to clean out the house. You will have to decide what has financial value, what may possess sentimental worth and what you can throw away. This can be an extremely emotional task, so it is good to have a system, especially if you are asking others to help you. As the executor, you are ultimately responsible for the contents of the estate.

Conservatorships aren't permanent in Colorado

A conservator is someone who's appointed to manage an incapacitated person's property and finances. They're generally selected by a Colorado judge for this role after they present evidence that an individual's money is at risk of being wasted or lost. Once instituted, a protected person can request for the conservatorship over them to be terminated only in certain situations.

According to the Colorado Revised Statutes 15-14-102(5), an incapacitated adult is described as someone unable to properly comprehend or evaluate information necessary to make a reasoned decision. If an individual is unable to adequately take care of their own health or safety, then they may also be considered to be an incapacitated adult.

What are a Colorado personal representative's responsibilities?

When an individual drafts a will, they generally also appoint an executor, now known as a personal representative in Colorado, to administer their estate. If they fail to do so, or the selected one doesn't or isn't able to perform their duties, then a judge will appoint one. Once chosen for that role, that individual is responsible for administering the testator, or will writer's, estate.

One of the personal representative's most basic responsibilities is to inventory all of the assets that a decedent left behind. They're then required to determine what the value of those items was at the time the decedent died. Once these assets are inventoried and valued, it's the responsibility of the personal representative to protect and preserve their value until they're distributed to creditors or heirs.

Estate problems may arise with multiple marriages

During the estate administration process, issues can crop up for a number of different reasons. In some cases, siblings simply can't get along. In others, they think the will is a fraud or that it doesn't accurately reflect what their parents would have wanted. There are numerous reasons for will contests, challenges and lengthy court cases.

One key thing to consider, though, is that they are more common when a parent has remarried. Experts note that these situations often pit adult children against a second or third spouse.

The worrying drop in life expectancy

Life expectancy should, in theory, keep increasing. We live in a world where modern medicine is better than it has ever been before. We know more now about health and nutrition than at any time in the past. We have medicines and vaccines that have eradicated some of history's most dangerous diseases.

Unfortunately, reports show that life expectancy in the United States just keeps dropping. One report from last year claimed that the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.6. The year before, it was 78.7. While that's only a drop of a tenth, the fact that it is trending down at all is concerning.

If you want a solid estate plan, avoid DIY

Estate plans have a number of benefits, and most people in Colorado and across the country do not fully understand those benefits. In fact, you may be among the many individuals who believe that you do not need an estate plan or that you can quickly create a plan on your own.

First of all, every adult can potentially benefit from having an estate plan. Even if you do not have a substantial amount of wealth, an estate plan can benefit you by allowing you to detail your wishes for long-term care in the event that you become seriously ill or incapacitated later in life, and it can allow you to name a guardian for any minor children you may have.

Is listing my children as insurance plan beneficiaries ideal?

On one of the first days at a new job in Broomfield, a representative from your company's human resources office may visit you. They may hand you an employee handbook and go over the different types of insurance options that they have to offer you. They'll likely have you fill out a beneficiary designation form for every plan that you choose to take out.

It may seem innocuous enough to designate your spouse as your beneficiary and your children as an alternate. Doing this can lead to an unintended outcome when it comes to the handling of your estate, though.

Why should I meet with a estate planning attorney while pregnant?

There are lots of responsibilities that come with becoming a new parent. Sitting down to plan your estate is one of those. In the days before you welcome your new baby home, you should also make a point of scheduling an appointment with an attorney to discuss estate planning. There are two preliminary details that you may want to discuss with them.

Before your meeting, you should think about who you could trust to raise your child if you couldn't. It's important that you select someone that you believe would raise them similarly to yourself.