The Law Firm of Bruce A. Danford, LLC

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.

Undue influence? We can help

Do you think that your loved one wrote a will that does not accurately reflect their wishes? Perhaps you're concerned about undue influence. It's a valid concern, and you need to know what options you have.

In general, undue influence is when a vulnerable person is influenced by someone else who has some type of power over them. This can make the contract -- in this case, a will -- null and void. It shows that the person did not write it of their own free will, but they were manipulated into doing so.

Will your kids survive their inheritance?

You worked hard all your life and amassed a significant fortune to pass on to your heirs. It would be tragic if one of your heirs, funded by an inheritance, led a dissolute life and headed to an early grave.

Even if situations don't get that dire, not all heirs are equipped to be good fiscal managers. If your children are still young, now is the time to teach them good money management skills. While it's never too late to learn, if you doubt an adult child or other heir's ability to manage an inheritance, there are ways to offset this concern.

You and your family can benefit from your estate plan

As you consider the many aspects involved with estate planning, you may worry that your plan will not meet your needs or the needs of your family. After all, a seemingly simple mistake could take your intentions off the rails.

Like with many events in life, you may find making preparations easier if you have the right information. Therefore, it is wise to explore the many estate-planning tools available to you and look into the pros and cons of each. This information may help you determine what planning options may help you create the best plan for your needs and wishes.

What should I include in a pet trust?

One of the best ways to plan for the care of your pet after you've died is by setting up a pet trust. Your pet trust will set aside funds to care for your animal and identify an individual who will serve as your animal's caretaker. Creating a pet trust is not entirely straightforward, however, so it's best when estate planners seek professional assistance when setting up this important legal document.

Here are the most important elements to consider when creating your pet trust:

Your responsibilities as a conservator

Being named as a conservator is one of the most important legal jobs you can have in life. You will be responsible for a variety of things for another person. This person will likely have become incapacitated to the point where he or she cannot make decisions or care for themselves. They will be named as a ward of the court and a conservator will be appointed.

The conservator will be responsible for handling all of the ward's property, including real estate and other tangible assets. This includes their home and their car. The conservator, if necessary, will be allowed to sell the ward's car or home to help pay for medical expenses or to help pay for residency in an assisted living facility.

All expectant moms should have living wills

Of all the pre-planning that expectant moms do for their impending arrivals, one thing that's seldom on their to-do list is to see an estate planning attorney before they give birth. Legal analysts suggest that they maybe should schedule a visit with one, though.

One reason that you may want to see an estate planning attorney if you're pregnant is to draft a living will. This is a critical document that will help your medical team know what your final wishes are if you were to become incapacitated during your pregnancy or to develop a life-threatening condition during childbirth.