Estate planning and planning for the end of life is not often a comfortable or natural thing to do. However, setting aside time in advance to consider how you want things to be addressed is a gift to your family and friends, who can be sure that your wishes are being respected and followed. Life can change at any moment. At Johnson Law Group, we can help you prepare in advance for the unexpected, from general estate planning services to preparing advance health care directives. Call us today at 720-586-4796 for a free consultation.
What is estate planning? At its very basic it is putting into place documents that will direct what happens to your assets when you pass away. In the case of advance health care directives, these documents direct others on what decisions you would like made related to your health should you suddenly become unable to do so. Below is a list of estate planning services that Johnson Law Group can assist you in preparing.
A Last Will and Testament (will)l is a document that directs what you would like to happen to your possessions after you die. It also appoints a personal representative to manage your estate. If you do not have a will, your property will be distributed according to the Colorado Probate Code on intestate succession. Having a will in place, no matter the size of your estate is important so that your wishes are respected. If you have minor children, you can name guardians for them in your will. Our offices can help you determine everything that should be considered and accounted for as you create a will.
A trust is constructed so that the owner (the trustor), gives another person (the trustee), the legal right to hold and manage the trust on behalf of a third party (the beneficiary). Establishing a trust means that you can direct how the trustee is to manage and distribute assets to a beneficiary. The trustee acts in your interest as the trustor or grantor. Not everyone requires a trust, but we can help you determine if this is something that would be beneficial to your estate planning based on your circumstances.
There are three types of trusts that we find our clients need:
Health can quickly take a turn, leaving you unable to relay wishes related to your care to family or friends. Leave them with the peace of mind that you have already thought about your wishes by creating advance health care directives. These are documents that tell family, medical providers, and friends what your wishes are should you become incapable of doing so due to poor health.
In advance health care directives, our experienced attorneys at Johnson Law Group can help establish a health care agent (also often called a proxy, attorney-in-fact, or patient advocate) who will make medical decisions on your behalf. If no health care agent is named oftentimes those providing medical care will have to make decisions on your behalf. These may or may not align with what you desire in any given situation. Below are examples of different types of advance health care directives:
Living wills are different from the wills we discussed above. Living wills provide information about your wishes related to healthcare while you are alive. It often describes the type of medical care you would like to receive, and when. In Colorado, under the Colorado Medical Treatment Act, two witnesses are required to make the directive legally binding.
This document names an “attorney-in-fact,” who will direct how medical decisions should be made on your behalf. A living will and durable power of attorney for health care can exist together. In that case, the “attorney-in-fact” will direct medical providers to ensure that your living will is being followed. The person you name in the durable power of attorney for health care would also be able to make decisions for any situation you did not plan for in your living will.
This document speaks specifically to requests related to mental health treatment should you become unable to relay that information at a later point in time.
Deciding whether to donate organs can be a difficult one for family members. Prepare a document in advance specifying your intent to either donate or not donate organs should this become an option while you are incapacitated.
One of the most personal things we can do is direct how we would like our lives to be celebrated when we die. Letters of intent can explain to others your desires about burial and what you would like done with your remains. Many people choose to state their wish whether to be buried or cremated. A location of the burial may be specified or the location of where you would like your cremated remains placed.
Planning for the end of life does not have to be stressful. While it is not naturally something people take the time to do, we commend you for recognizing the importance of leaving clear directions to your estate on what should happen after death, and for taking the time to consider advance health care directives should you fall ill unexpectedly. Call Johnson Law Group at 720-586-4796 to let us help you determine which estate planning tools and advance health care directives are best for you.