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Estate Planning

The goal of estate planning is to advise a client on the options available for the disposition, preservation and management of his or her personal and real property. The options will depend on the family, philosophy and financial circumstances of each individual client.  Options include transferring property during an individual’s life time and after death.  The options are as varied as the individuals and their particular circumstances. 

As a general rule the more assets one has the more involved the estate planning and consequently the need for an expert financial and/or tax planning expert.  Knowlton Law will be glad to refer individuals with complex estate planning to an expert.  For individuals who have assets below five million dollars (the current proposed federal estate tax deduction), Knowlton Law provides access to affordable estate planning in its virtual law office (VLO) or welcomes individuals for more personal attention at its Basalt Office.

Most clients wish to preserve and pass their property on to their families. In this regard, Knowlton Law can provide assistance to determine what property interest should be passed during a client's lifetime or upon the client’s death, whether property interests should be held in a revocable or an irrevocable trust, how to pass on a family businesses and how to preserve and divide assets among family members.  Estate taxes are always a consideration and we can help there as well.

Wills, Trusts and Powers of Attorney

Estate planning begins with three basic areas: a wills, trusts and a power of attorney.

Will

A will is a legal document that tells the world how you want to divide your assets, who will be a guardian of your children, if you die unexpectedly, and who will administer your estate after your death.  A will may best be understood if you understand what happens if you die without a Will.  In Colorado, this is called dying intestate.  In Colorado, if you die without a will, in the most basic scenario, your property will be split equally between your spouse and children.  There is no provision for a trust if your children are under eighteen years of age and no direction on who is responsible for administering you estate.

Living Wills

Knowlton Law provides free Living Wills. Living Wills express your desires on how long to keep you alive if you are on life support.  Colorado Law requires people be sustained on life support for two day. Living Wills allow you to extend this period.  Living Will may be combined with durable power of medical decisions.

Trusts

A trust is a way to transfer property to another while maintaining some control. The degree of control allows flexibility but not so much flexibility that it can be used to avoid paying taxes.  The person creating the trust is called a “Settlor” the person responsible for managing the property according to the conditions is called a “Trustee” and the person benefiting from the property is a beneficiary.  The “Settlor” and “Trustee” can be the same person.  A trust can be revocable or irrevocable.  A revocable trust can be dissolved at any time.  An irrevocable trust is permanent.  Irrevocable trusts are most common when the estate plan is minimizing estate taxes.  Revocable trusts are used to pass all or a specific right in property without probate and therefore outside of public view.

Power of Attorney 

A power of attorney appoints another person of your choosing to make decisions which you are unable to make for whatever reason.  Durable power of attorneys are used to appoint someone to make medical decision of you are incapacitated.  Power of attorneys can be general or specific. Specific is preferable and may include the right to make financial decisions, transfer property and manage businesses if the principal is not thinking correctly.