Your Guide to Estate Planning in Lakewood, CO

How To Choose An Estate Planner In Lakewood, Colorado

Pre-retiree and retirees in Lakewood, CO and beyond, may want to consider creating a comprehensive estate plan with the assistance of a Certified Estate Planner™ and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional.  Estate planning establishes the manner in which your assets will be distributed upon your departure from this plane of existence.  

Though no one wants to think about the end of their life, ignoring this inevitable conclusion has the potential to prove quite costly to your loved ones.  Lean on an estate planner and a financial planner to help with this challenge and your hard-earned assets will be dispersed exactly as you desire.  The best part about letting these professionals spearhead the estate planning process on your behalf is you won’t have to do much aside from communicating how you would like your assets distributed.

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Chapter 1

The Basics of Estate Plans

Hanging file folder labeled with Estate PlanEstate plans are exactly as they sound – a planning of the distribution of the components that comprise your estate.  An estate plan details how your cash, investments, property, and other assets will be distributed to family, friends, charities, and others upon your death.  The last will and testament are the foundation of every estate plan.  These legal documents detail which parties will receive specific assets after you pass away.  

Ideally, the last will and testament will be quite detailed to communicate exactly how your assets are to be distributed to completely eliminate the potential for a contested will.  Vague language has the potential to be interpreted in an unintended manner, potentially creating family drama that shifts the spotlight away from the celebration of your life and onto a battle over your assets.

Estate plans are also highlighted by the Power of Attorney.  This is a legal tool used to empower a loved one, friend, or other trusted individual to make important decisions on your behalf in your final years.  If you become mentally or physically incapacitated, the individual named as the representative in your Power of Attorney will make decisions pertaining to medical treatment, personal finances, and legal issues on your behalf.

Learn more in our blog article: Estate Planning Basics for Colorado Residents

Chapter 2

Additional Components of an Estate Plan

Though the last will and testament and power of attorney are the primary components of the estate plan, truly comprehensive estate plans contain additional elements.  Estate plans also include health care directives.  Such a directive is a legal document that details your desires for health care treatment.  

The directive also empowers another person to enforce such decisions when you are no longer capable of making them on your own.  Health care directives typically contain information pertaining to the use of life support along with preferences for comfort care amidst a coma or terminal illness.

The will is used to explain which relatives, friends, and other parties are to receive certain assets.  Alternatively, Gift Deeds are different in that they transfer ownership of specific items from one party to another.  Such items identified through Gift Deeds have either sentimental or monetary value.  The named recipient is provided with this gift upon your passing.  

Finally, estate planning consists of an end-of-life plan.  This plan allows for the individual in question to express his or her desires pertaining to the memorial service, how his or her remains are to be handled and other details pertaining to the manner in which the funeral, wake, and other services will be handled.  

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Read our blog article: Colorado Estate Planning Documents Explained

Chapter 3

Your Estate Planning Checklist

The prospect of estate planning has the potential to prove quite intimidating simply because it centers on the topic of your mortality.  However, if you were to ignore estate planning or gloss over any of its elements, it would be a disservice to your family.  

If you are a pre-retiree or retired, you should invest the little bit of time necessary to go over your estate planning checklist to ensure all the details are addressed, ultimately empowering you to move forward with life, enjoying a truly invaluable peace of mind.  

Consider the following questions when creating your estate plan with the assistance of your estate planner and financial planner.

Is there a letter of instruction?  

Such a letter is necessary as it serves as an explanation of the will’s instructions written in layman’s terms anyone can understand without a law degree.  This document is particularly important if you do not rely on an estate planning attorney to write your will.  Though writing a DIY (do it yourself) will is not advisable, adding a letter of instruction helps complete the will, filling in information that might have been left out in the original will.

Have you named the individuals who will receive specific assets?  

This is your opportunity to detail which items will be bequeathed to specific family members, friends, charitable organizations, and other parties.  Furthermore, you should explain exactly how much money or other forms of value will be given to each specific person or party.

Have you addressed the care you will receive?  

Use your mind’s eye to envision a scenario a decade or two down the road when you are unable to care for yourself.  Your estate plan should explain exactly what type of care you desire.  The plan should also identify the person or persons who will make decisions pertaining to that care should you be unable to make sound decisions on your own.

Have you named a person to make decisions on your behalf?  

Though it is disturbing to ponder, everyone must consider which trusted individual will handle their medical, financial, and legal decisions in the event of physical or mental incapacitation.

Who will manage your assets after passing away? 

A responsible and trustworthy individual must be named to manage your possessions immediately after you pass away.  This individual must be clearly identified in your estate plan to ensure your assets are in good hands until distributed in accordance with your will.

What about taxes?  

If your estate is of considerable value, there is a chance it will result in inheritance or estate taxes.  Rely on your financial advisor for guidance in this area so you can plan for the tax burden accordingly.  The overarching goal of tax planning amidst the broader context of estate planning is to minimize taxes as much as possible.  Otherwise, your passing will be somewhat soured when loved ones are hit with a considerable amount of taxes on inherited cash and other assets.  

An advisory firm’s assistance will prove quite helpful in the context of taxes and financial planning.  Advisory firms coordinate planning initiatives with tax specialists and other professionals, oftentimes providing truly invaluable recommendations that lead to lifelong professional relationships. 

Is a life insurance policy in place?  

If you are a pre-retiree, you should consider having a life insurance policy.  This way, if you pass away while working, your loved ones will receive compensation that offsets the financial burden stemming from your loss of income.  

However, if you are retired and in your 60s or 70s, taking out a life insurance policy at this point in your life might not prove financially prudent due to the elevated monthly premiums.  Furthermore, retirees typically have a nest egg in place that their family members can rely upon for financial assistance.

Learn more: Lakewood Colorado Estate Planning Checklist

Also consider Top Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Chapter 4

How a Certified Estate Planner™ can Help

Every pre-retiree and retiree could benefit by leaning on a Certified Estate Planner™ for assistance with estate planning. This professional will steer the estate planning process on your behalf, ensuring you have all the proper plans in place to guarantee your assets are distributed as desired and trusted individuals are in charge of your end-of-life decisions should you become incapacitated.  

Your Certified Estate Planner™ will clear up any potential misunderstandings pertaining to the distribution of assets, care management, and decision-making in your final years.  This clarity is essential to ensure your desires are fulfilled and your loved ones do not end up engaging in a vitriolic legal battle over your assets after you depart this plane of existence.  

Though estate planning might seem somewhat straightforward at first glance, it is actually quite complicated once you begin getting down to the details.  Those with considerable assets, a large family, and highly-specific instructions pertaining to end-of-life care and other decisions will have especially challenging estate planning puzzles to piece together.  If you do not have a Certified Estate Planner™ on your side, you may make a mistake that leads to confusion or the loss of your hard-earned assets down the line.  

However, this guidance is only one piece to the estate planning puzzle. By working with a Certified Estate Planner™, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™Professional as well as a collaborative group of other legal and tax professionals you can ensure that your wishes are implemented properly.

Chapter 5

Finding the Right Certified Estate Planner™ in Lakewood, CO

The best Certified Estate Planner™ will have experience in financial planning, law, accounting, and/or the medical industry.  Meet with a Certified Estate Planner™, inquire about his or her niche in this field, select one whom you trust and you will have guidance as you move forward with estate planning.  

Do not automatically assume the first planner you research or meet with is the best for your nuanced estate planning needs.  If you anticipate your estate planning will have thorny legal issues, taxation challenges, or financial hurdles, hire a Certified Estate Planner™ with this specialty to facilitate the estate planning process. 

Ask friends, family members, colleagues, and others in your social and professional circles who they use as an estate and financial planner.  Above all, you should meet with the planner you have in mind to get a sense of whether they are worthy of your trust.  Ask questions to gauge whether they are willing to analyze the nuances of your particular situation.  Do not stop searching for the right planner until you are absolutely certain the one you select has your best interests in mind.  

Also consider: Should the Pandemic Affect Your Financial Planning?

Putting It All Together

Every Lakewood, CO pre-retiree and retiree should consider starting an estate plan today.  Do not wait until you are in poor health to commence this important planning.  Seize the opportunity to add clarity to your estate plan and you will have done your family quite the important favor moving forward.  Start estate planning today and your loved ones will be liberated to focus on grieving rather than sorting out your assets and potentially becoming embroiled in legal conflicts in the quest to maximize their inheritance.

Once your estate planning documents are created, secure them in your home.  The best places to store estate planning documents are safes, safety deposit boxes, at the bank or at your attorney’s office.  Be sure to keep a couple of extra copies just in case the original is damaged or the ink fades.  

Leave one set of copies with your attorney.  Notify your attorney-in-fact and executor of the position of these documents so they can locate them in the event that you pass away or become incapacitated.  

Above all, it is important that you communicate with your loved ones about your estate plans.  Tell these individuals where your estate planning documents are stored.  Provide each family member with an idea of how your assets are to be distributed and they will feel a great weight lifted off their shoulders. 

Be sure to update your estate plans as time progresses and your life situation changes.  If you get divorced, lose a spouse, gain assets, lose assets or if any other major life event occurs, your estate plan should be amended as appropriate to ensure your wishes are fulfilled.  When in doubt, a trusted Certified Estate Planner™ can offer expert guidance and you will enjoy truly invaluable peace of mind, knowing your loved ones will be taken care of after your passing.

At the Normandy Group, we are a group of professionals dedicated to providing the type of comprehensive financial planning that offers peace of mind. Our Dynamic Wealth Design can help shore up weaknesses and organize your financial life.

We focus on helping your wealth stay safe so you can sleep more soundly at night knowing what lies ahead. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

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