Navigating the Estate Planning Process?

Our Denver Estate Planning Lawyers Can Help

We spend our lives building up our collection of treasures. As children, we dream of the car or house we might one day own. When we finally reach those goals, it makes sense to protect those assets and valuables. To protect your property and assets properly, it is in your best interest to hire one of the established Denver estate planning lawyers from Wiegand Attorneys & Counselors LLC. They can ensure that all of your valuables are protected, handled and assigned properly to beneficiaries during the estate planning process.

Our estate lawyers discuss not only the client’s assets, but also their principles. For example, many of our clients have a long-standing tradition in place of giving to their religious institutions, communities, charitable organizations and other entities; however, planning may not be in place to continue that tradition after death – not because those administering the estate do not think it is important, but merely because the client has not thought through this issue and left sufficient instructions. Our experienced Denver estate planning lawyers can help you every step of the way during the estate planning process.

Our Estate Planning Questionnaire is designed to raise issues to explore more than the (relatively simple) question of who gets what and when. Further, there are many questions designed to provoke thoughtful consideration of many other issues. It can be a helpful resource if you are getting started with your estate planning.

GET STARTED WITH YOUR PLANNING BY DOWNLOADING OUR ESTATE PLANNING QUESTIONNAIRE.

Estate Planning Questionaire.pdf278 KB

What Happens During Estate Planning?

When it comes to estate planning, the client’s personal wishes should take priority. Our firm guides clients in addressing the following during the estate planning process:

  • Who do you want to receive the assets that will be listed as part of your estate?
  • Is there a spouse who, due to differing levels of wealth, you wish to treat differently than he/she would be treated under the prevailing statutes?
  • Is there a “partner” that you treat as your spouse but who is not, legally, a spouse?
  • Is this a second marriage with assets and children that fall under the different categories of “yours”, “mine” and “ours”?
  • Are there persons that you wish to be treated as children, but are not legally your children?
  • When, if ever, do you want assets to be turned over to the beneficiary?
  • Are there beneficiaries whom, for whatever reason, you do not want to ever have control of the assets (e.g., the beneficiary is a spendthrift, is suffering from drug or emotional dependency or from some other incapacity)?
  • Are there any beneficiaries who can better utilize Medicaid or other social security benefits if the assets can be kept out of their control?
  • Who do you want to manage assets until they are turned over to the ultimate beneficiary?

What Is a Fiduciary?

Whether you are naming a personal representative/executor of your estate, the trustee of a trust or an agent under a power of attorney, you need to consider who you want to name as the “fiduciary”.

The named fiduciary will have the duties and responsibilities of:

  • Making investment decisions.
  • Keeping accurate financial records.
  • Understanding and applying fiduciary accounting rules and using discretion in applying these rules.
  • Preparing and filing appropriate tax returns and making the appropriate tax elections.
  • Allocating discretionary distribution between or among multiple beneficiaries and dealing with disputes with beneficiaries who question the use of discretion.

While it is true that a trusted friend or relative might be qualified to act as an investment advisor, that person may not be the best choice to make the multitude of discretionary decisions encountered. Conversely, the person chosen to be the Guardian of a minor, or incapacitated person, might not be the best person to handle the finances. In short, it may be appropriate to divide duties among an investment advisor, a financial decision-maker, and — where appropriate — a guardian of an incapacitated person. It may also be appropriate to simply name someone to be a person whom the fiduciary can rely on for advice. The alternative choices are numerous. A qualified estate planning attorney can answer any questions you have about naming a fiduciary and can help you make the best decision.

What Is a Holistic Approach to Estate Planning?

Estate Planning is more than merely determining who will get what and when. There are other issues that are rarely addressed, not because they are unimportant, but because they simply have never been discussed.

These issues include:

  • Burial and memorial service instructions
  • Identification of all internet (digital) assets, including usernames and passwords
  • Instructions regarding the continuation or termination of social media accounts
  • Identification of all internet access usernames and passwords, including bank accounts, automatic payments by bank account or credit or debit cards, and other matters that no longer communicate by the hard copy “snail mail”
  • Life insurance policies and retirement plans and annuities
  • Real estate owned in other states

What Is Estate Tax Planning?

Although most estates fall well below the need to consider estate taxes in the state of Colorado, the same is not true if the client owns real estate in other states — or could be considered a resident of another state. For those large estates, or cases where the laws of other states must be considered, we offer the following services:

  • Personal Transfer Tax Planning (Gift, Estate, and Generation-Skipping). This will affect the transfer of one’s estate during life and after death to minimize federal and state estate tax losses.
  • Specific planning around the generation-skipping tax liabilities.
  • Planning to preserve the family wealth by establishing long-term trusts, “dynasty trusts” and planned giving trusts (such as split-interest charitable trusts).

What Is Charitable Giving Planning?

The gift of giving must be shared. It is not inherent in our being but rather must be learned over time. You can share your wealth by determining a certain amount to be set aside each month, quarter, year etc. This is called “Charitable giving planning”.

Consider the following if you are thinking about setting money aside for charitable purposes:

  • Is it appropriate you to make a lifetime gift to a split-interest charitable trust, reserving the income for life, with the remainder to charity? Note that in so doing, you may benefit from a current income-tax charitable deduction, even though your estate is less than would be expected to benefit from an estate tax charitable deduction.
  • The remainder after deducting the lifetime income could go to a charity selected by you or could be set up so that your children could choose the charity.
  • The lifetime income tax deduction could produce sufficient income tax savings, allowing a lifetime gift to those who would have inherited if the gift had not been made.
  • Setting up a charitable “donor-advised fund”. By doing this, the donor receives the immediate tax deduction from a large charitable gift to a public charity. The donor also has the choice to periodically select different charities. After the donor’s death, the donor’s children can continue as the donor-advisors.

Estate Planning Questions? Call Us Today

You have spent your whole life accumulating assets and property that you hold dear. The best thing you can do to ensure that your prized possessions are protected is to hire one of the experienced Denver estate planning lawyers from Wiegand Attorneys & Counselors, LLC. We have been representing clients for over 40 years — we know how to build a strong estate plan that leaves little room for differing interpretations.

Contact our office today via our online form or by calling our Denver or Breckenridge offices to schedule an appointment with one of our highly qualified Denver estate planning lawyers.

Professionalism: The Commitment of Our Firm

Professionalism is conduct reflecting the values embodied in the Colorado Attorney Oath of Admission, the Colorado Principles of Professionalism, and the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct. These values require attorneys always to act competently, civilly, and with integrity and to commit themselves to the public good and to furthering the interests of justice.

CBA LBA Martyndale Hubble