Many people find estate planning to be an uncomfortable topic, as it requires us to face decisions that focus on serious illness and death. Though estate planning is an uncomfortable subject, it is an extremely important one. The idea behind proper estate planning is not only to ensure that your wishes are carried out, but more importantly, to ensure that your family and loved ones are cared for and not forced to make difficult end-of-life decisions for you.
LGBT ESTATE PLANNING
In Colorado, your estate planning may include any of the tools discussed in the General Estate Planning section below. Also significant to the LGBT community is the Colorado Designated Beneficiaries Act. This Act authorizes two adults who are not married to enter into a Designated Beneficiary Agreement. This Agreement makes each adult a designated beneficiary, and decision-maker in case of incapacity, for the other adult. This Agreement is a contract, which is filed with the Clerk and Recorder’s office in the county of residence of one of the parties, and allows you to choose who will make decisions for you in case of emergency or death.
While this is not the same as marriage or a civil union, it does allow protections that are not available without the agreement, such as inheritance protection, life insurance benefits, health benefits, wrongful death, worker’s compensation, hospital and nursing home visitation and medical decision-making. Keep in mind, a Designated Beneficiary Agreement is not as thorough as a formal estate plan. If you cannot afford formal estate planning, you should, at a minimum, consider a Designated Beneficiary Agreement. For more information, visit www.designatedbeneficiaries.org and speak to an attorney.
Additionally, some of the options discussed in the Family Law section of this site are also helpful Estate Planning tools.
Though Colorado same-sex couples can currently enter into marriage, same-sex marriages are recognized by the federal government and 35 other states plus the District of Columbia. There are 15 states that will not recognize a same-sex couple’s marriage, even if it was lawfully obtained in the state in which the marriage license was issued. At Martin Law Office, we look forward to the day when the members of Colorado’s LGBT community are entitled to the same benefits, rights and responsibilities as heterosexual married couples no matter where they are located at any given time. In the meantime, we strive to work with members of the LGBT community to use all of the tools available to ensure their families are protected no matter where they may find themselves.
GENERAL ESTATE PLANNING
Though it is possible to prepare at least some estate planning documents on your own, it is strongly recommended that you utilize legal counsel in the preparation of your estate planning documents. The use of legal counsel will ensure not only that legal requirements have been met; it also provides you with a neutral party to help you recognize all the issues that need to be considered in drafting the estate planning documents. Additionally, legal counsel should ensure that you receive appropriate copies of all of the estate planning documents and advise you as to what to do with those documents. Use of legal counsel also provides a contact point in the future for your loved ones and family members when your estate planning documents are being utilized.
At Martin Law Office LLC, we recognize that estate planning can be stressful and even uncomfortable. Our goal is to patiently listen to your questions, concerns, thoughts and desires, and then provide you with information that is both helpful and understandable.
Estate Planning is a broad term and refers to planning that must be tailored to a person or family’s specific needs. An Estate Plan can include several of the following:
- Living and Testamentary Trusts
- Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts
- Identification of Guardians
- Durable General (Financial) Power of Attorney
- Durable Medical Power of Attorney (Living Will)
- Advance Directives
- Declarations regarding disposition of remains
- Designated Beneficiary Agreements
- Charitable Gift Giving Strategies
We will help you evaluate how many or how few of those instruments you will need to protect you and your loved ones, and to provide the peace of mind you have earned.