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Protecting Your Wishes

Wills & Estates

Wills

If you were to die without a will, your estate would be distributed under specific instructions by Colorado law.  There is no guarantee that Colorado laws align with your desires. However, you can override the Colorado laws by having a will.  A will is a legal document that gives instructions for distributing your assets upon death.

In addition to other instructions, your will can include:

 

  • Naming who receives what property.

  • The selection of the personal representative of your estate.

  • Address the payment of any taxes and debts.

  • Address burial and funeral expenses.

  • Name a guardian for your minor child(ren).

When you pass, your loved ones will be going through an emotional time, and there will be added stress in having to deal with the legalities of your estate.  Having a well-drafted will can be your last gift to your grieving loved ones.

The will can provide:

 

  • Reduced risk of legal challenges to the estate.

  • Reduced time spent going through probate.

  • An expedited process so that your heirs can more quickly access your property.

  • Reduced stress on your loved ones by allocating payment of funeral expenses.

  • A clear path for the payment of taxes

If you already have a will, life situations change, and laws are amended (e.g. tax laws).  Colorado law allows you to update, change, and amend the contents of your will as often as needed.

Protecting the Integrity of Wills

A will is a legal document that gives instructions for distributing assets upon death.  Only interested parties are allowed to contest (or fight) the validity of a will.  In Colorado, interested parties are people who would have inherited from the deceased had there been no will or a named beneficiary in the current or previous will.

A will may be deemed invalid if the Testator (the person who made the will) was under undue influence.  Undue influence occurs when a person manipulates the Testator to such a degree that they lose free will.  Common forms of manipulation are: coercion, duress, and the misuse of power.  An example of misuse of power or trust is when a person who inherits from a will was in a fiduciary relationship with the Testator and uses that relationship to influence the will.

Colorado law requires that wills be created with certain formalities, such as:

 

  • The Testator be at least 18 years old;

  • The Testator be of sound mind;

  • The will be in writing;

  • The will be signed by the Testator or signed by an appointed person of the Testator;

  • The will be signed and witnessed by two impartial parties; and

  • The will be notarized.

Colorado law requires the Testator be of sound mind when the will is created and signed.  Whether the  Testator was of sound mind is a determination the court makes after looking at several factors, including:

  • Whether the Testator generally understood they were making out a will and the effects of the will;

  • Whether the Testator generally understood the nature and amount of property they owned;

  • Whether the Testator generally understood how the will distributes the property;

  • Whether the will matches the Testator’s desires; and

  • Whether the Testator was able to make rational decisions.

If the court finds that the Testator had a general understanding of the factors, the court should determine they were of sound mind.

A will may be considered invalid if its creation was due to fraud.  In determining a claim of fraud, the court considers:

  • If someone made a false representation to the Testator;

  • The person knew the representation was false;

  • The Testator believed the false representation; and

  • The false representation caused the Testator to execute a Will they would not have otherwise executed.

Estates
Keep Your Wealth in Your Hands

Wills & Estates

Estates

You have a choice if you die or become incapacitated. You can have complete control over your assets and care or you can let the State of Colorado have control over your assets and care. The State of Colorado has a plan for you, regardless of whether you agree with it or whether it causes undue expenses. However, you can bypass the State’s plan and have your own individualized plan (called your estate plan) where you control your assets, control your financial/physical care, align guardians for your children, and avoid waste (taxes, court costs, legal fees). The Boney Law Firm wants to help you keep control.

In the unfortunate event of death or incapacitation, estate planning is about having a legal plan in place to account for your assets and care.

A solid estate plan will accomplish these goals (among others):

  • Name the people or organizations that will receive the things you own after you die.

  • Transfer the things you own with the least amount of taxes, court costs, legal fees, and without disqualifying family members with special needs from other benefits.

  • Provide for loved ones with special protections from irresponsible waste, creditors, and/or divorce.

 

If you become incapacitated prior to death, your estate plan may include instructions for both your care and financial affairs. It can also safeguard and control your children's inheritance and name guardians for your children's care.

 

Estate planning at Boney Law Firm provides more than just a solid plan, it provides peace of mind. We want you and your loved ones to have the peace of mind that in an unfortunate situation, your care and assets are managed. As we design your estate plan, we have your loved ones in mind so that the transition is smooth, without conflict, and without unnecessary waste. When you pass, your loved ones will be going through an emotional time, and there will be added stress in having to deal with the legalities of your estate.  Having a well-drafted will can be your last gift to your grieving loved ones.

 

Contested Probate

 

Sometimes, despite the best planning possible, you must fight legally for your share of the decedent’s estate. I have nearly 17 years of fighting for my client’s interests, often against other members of the family. It’s important to fight for your rights, and the intent of your loved one who just died, while maintaining family bonds. Only an experienced probate such as I can do both. 

Guardianships

In general, a Colorado guardianship is an arrangement in which an individual is placed in charge of the person of another individual (called a “ward”).  Colorado allows for the appointment of guardians for minors or incapacitated persons. Different than a conservator, a guardian oversees the person of the ward, while a conservator oversees the finances of the ward.

Duties

 

To be in charge of the person of a ward means to have the same duties and responsibilities as a parent regarding the ward’s support, care, education, health, and welfare.  The guardian is required to always act in the ward’s best interests. The duties of the guardian can be expanded or restricted depending on the needs of the ward and the determination of the court.

 

In determining the duties of the guardian for an incapacitated person, the court evaluates the needs of the ward and then issues an order for what is necessary and no more.  This requires the guardianship order to be specific as to the powers and roles of the guardian.

 

To assist the court in determining if and under what terms a guardianship should be issued, the court will appoint a court visitor. This is an individual assigned by the court to conduct a preliminary investigation of the allegations and make recommendations to the court.

 

Appointment

 

Colorado allows the guardian of a minor to either be appointed by the parent or by the court.  While the guardian of an incapacitated person must be appointed by the court.

Contested Probate
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