Comprehensive Estate Plans are either Will or Trust based plans that seek to provide protection for you and your family while you are alive and your family after your death. While you are alive, a properly set up estate plan can help you avoid “living probate” (conservatorship or guardianship) if you should become incapacitated. Upon your death, a Comprehensive Estate Plan will allow you to direct your assets to your loved ones and provide them protection from creditors and predators. Whether Will or Trust based, the plan usually also includes Durable Financial and Medical Powers of Attorney, a Declaration as to Medical Treatment (or “Living Will”), Memorial Instructions, and possibly an expression of your values and wisdom or “Ethical Will”.
Do I need a Will or Trust based plan?
The right estate plan can provide you and your loved ones peace of mind by allowing you to express your wishes and accomplish them, relieve the burden of decision making on those who will be left behind, preserve your assets and minimize tax liability.
There are many estate planning tools available. The first step is an initial consultation to discuss your goals. Once we have established a framework, we will recommend and prepare the documents that will constitute your estate plan, including:
- Wills: A will is a document that allows you to direct what you want done with your property after you pass away. This type of document also gives you power to appoint a guardian over your minor children should both parents be deceased. While there are many options for creating and updating a will without an attorney, you should remember that wills are legal documents that have specific requirements. Will based Comprehensive Estate Plans typically cost between $1,000 (including legal counseling, a Simple Will, Advance Directives and Powers of Attorney) and $2,500 (for a plan including testimentary trust(s)), although prices may vary depending on complexity and inclusion of various testimentary trusts. While a Will based plan may be a cheaper option up front, the plan does not avoid probate, which can be very costly and time consuming.
- Trusts: Trusts are a way to manage property during your life and depending on the trust terms, may continue after your death. A Trust can be revocable or irrevocable. If the trust is revocable, the Trustmaker (also called the Grantor or Settlor) can buy and sell trust assets and change the terms at any time. If the trust is irrevocable, the terms and assets may not be easily changed. There are a variety of trusts designed for different purposes. Circumstances where trusts are useful include avoiding the probate process, creditor protection, addressing the needs of minors or incapacitate individuals who are unable to manage their own financial affairs, and providing for yourself or a loved one in anticipation of the loss of mental or physical capacity, and minimizing taxes. Trust based Comprehensive Estate Plans typically cost between $3, 500 and $5,000, but may be more expensive depending on the complexity of the estate plan. While the up front cost of a trust is typically more expensive than a Will based plan, they offer considerably more protection to the Trustmaker while he/she is alive and incapacitated (Wills do not become effective until death.); provide privacy for the family (During Probate, the Will and all the decedent’s probate assets are made public, which mans predators may have access to personal and family financial information); and Trusts avoid the time, attention, and expense required by the probate process during a time when most families are grieving and often are not ready or able to handle the stress of making important decisions required during the probate process. While a Trust will require administration after the death of a Trustmaker, the cost is usually much less than the cost of probate and the administration is typically handled without Court oversight and not a Court designated timetable.
- Medical Power of Attorney: This document designates a person of your choice to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Such decisions could include a variety of things, including authorizing medical treatment to releasing medical records.
- Financial Power of Attorney: This document gives another person of your choice the authority to handle your financial affairs. Decisions such as banking, bill paying, and investment and property management can be important parts of your life or business, and you may want to nominate someone to do these tasks for you if you are incapacitated.
- Advance health care directive or Living Will: You can specify your wishes regarding end-of-life treatment. Unlike an advance health care directive, a living will takes effect only if you are in a terminal or unconscious state.
- Ethical Wills: We often use the term ‘Last Will and Testament’ to refer to a legal document that passes on a decedent’s property, but frankly, most times this document does not contain much of a “Testament”. An Ethical Will is a Life Statement or a “Testament”. Putting together an Ethical Will is a unique opportunity to pass on your wisdom, and love and a last chance to tell the stories and family history that are precious and unique to your family. At Tirey O’Neil, LLC, we can help you craft this unique and lasting testament.
An Effective Plan to Put Your Mind at Ease
We have drafted many comprehensive estate plans. We understand the emotion involved when discussing our clients’ mortality and are sensitive to their concerns and questions. We are effective communicators who have the ability to express your wishes in clear, concise terms that will make your meaning plain to anyone who may review your estate plan.
Contact Our Colorado Estate Planning Lawyer Today
From offices in Northglenn, Colorado, Tirey O’Neil, LLC offers representation to clients in communities throughout the Denver metro area. Contact our experienced wills and trusts lawyer online to schedule a free introductory consultation.
Our office operates Monday through Friday, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Evening, weekend and home appointments can be arranged. For the convenience of our clients, our firm accepts credit cards as payment and translation services are available.