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Denver Elder Law Blog

Think estate planning is uncomfortable? Your family may disagree

For most people, the thought of aging is not a pleasant one. There are many worries that run through people's heads, chief among them being preferences for medical care and final wishes for when they have passed on. Although uncomfortable, discussing these matters and estate planning accordingly is essential.

Colorado families usually have some big questions after the death of a loved one. Who should take responsibility for carrying out their family member's last wishes? What were those last wishes anyway? What do they want to happen to their assets? Most people would not want their family to have to come up with answers to these questions while they are in the middle of the grieving process.

Progressive disease highlights need for asset protection

As the Colorado resident ages, planning for the future becomes more and more important. Retirement planning becomes a crucial part of the budget, and the individual often dreams of what life will be like once he or she is finally able to retire. These dreams often involve traveling, working in the yard and spending time with friends and family. Yet, as many individuals age, they discover that their retirement dreams are just that -- dreams, and their reality is dealing with a progressive disease such as dementia or Alzheimer's.

The need for long-term care can be a concern for many retirees and those approaching retirement. Medicare only covers a limited number of days if it is necessary for one to seek care in a skilled nursing care environment. Once these days are exhausted, the individual is then responsible for the cost associated with such care.

Planning ahead for your special needs child

As the parent of a special needs child, you need all the financial help you can get. The federal government and the State of Colorado offer a variety of assistance programs and benefits, but who will provide these and other benefits for your child after you are gone?

The answer could be you. Not literally, of course, but by means of the special needs trust you establish for the benefit of your child, not only now, but throughout his or her lifetime. All it takes is a little forethought and help from a lawyer to draft the proper document

More people are adding pet trusts to their estate plans

Caring for a pet is a big responsibility. Many households in Colorado devote a great deal of time and money to providing for the well-being of their animals. Whether they raise them from birth or adopt them full-grown from shelters, pet owners often incorporate their animals into their homes as members of their families. This is why more pet owners are adding pet trusts to their estate plans.

Sadly, many beloved animals spend their remaining days in shelters following the deaths of their owners. This happens when the owner does not make clear arrangements for their continued care or simply mentions their pets in a will. By designating a caregiver in a will, a pet owner does not leave a secure future in place for the pet since there is no law binding an heir to accept or keep an inheritance.

Buzz Aldrin dilemma -- guardianship or exploitation concern?

Taking care of mom or dad can become a pressing concern as a Colorado resident's parent ages. It often begins with driving mom or dad to doctors' appointments. Later, one realizes that the parent is no longer able to stay on top of bills and needs someone to step in to take care of this. There can even come a time when decisions need to be made regarding where mom or dad will live as he or she is no longer able to care for him or herself. If guardianship has been addressed prior to this time, this may be a simple process; however, if it has not, things may be more complicated.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin and his family have recently made headlines in what appears to be a guardianship controversy. Fearing that their father is suffering from a declining mental state, Aldrin's children filed court documents seeking guardianship of their father. As a part of their petition they pointed to what they appear to believe is his excessive spending habits averaging more than $70,000 per month.

What is a Medicaid spend-down?

If your parents have health issues and/or are approaching the age where you and they fear they may need to take up residence in a Colorado nursing home or assisted-living facility, you may already be worrying about how they will pay the costs that such care entails. Few people can afford the extraordinary costs of long-term care even if they are reasonably well off financially. The vast majority of people need to obtain Medicaid.

Medicaid itself, however, presents you and your parents with a whole new set of issues. First and foremost, your parents must qualify for Medicaid benefits. Unfortunately, most Medicaid programs require that anyone applying for Medicaid must be “indigent” in order to qualify for it. What this means is that together, your parents must own no more than $4,000 worth of assets. Whatever their current financial situation, it is highly likely that they own considerably more than that very small amount. So now what do you do? The answer may be a Medicaid spend-down

Estate planning is crucial for Colorado business owners

In addition to family responsibilities, Colorado business owners also have a responsibility to their customers and employees. Customers depend upon the business owner to provide a necessary product or service; employees depend upon the business owner to provide their livelihood. For this reason, proper estate planning can be crucial in protecting both customers and employees in addition to loved ones.

In addition to a will, the business owner may be best served by creating a revocable living trust. Business assets can then be placed in the trust, and a trustee can be specified. In many instances, the business owner will be the trustee; however, a successor can also be named in case the owner becomes incapacitated or dies. This action will allow the business to continue with little interruption, can minimize questions regarding what course of action to take and may offer protection from creditors.

Digital assets need to be included in estate planning process

In years past, one would pour over the family photo album to learn about friends and family. If one wanted to say hello to grandma, he or she would have to pick up the telephone and place a call. Then, when the phone bill came in, along with all the other bills, someone would have to sit down and write out a check to pay the bills. Things have changed drastically over the past 20 years or so, and the way that the average Colorado resident communicates, preserves history and even takes care of financial matters has changed. While many of these changes offer a number of advantages, they also can present problems unless they have been addressed as a part of one's estate planning process.

The average Colorado resident spends a portion of each day on the internet. For many, this includes updating their social media accounts, such as Facebook. This is a great way to stay in contact with friends and family members. It also offers the ability to notify friends and family of upcoming plans, social events and more. One is able to share pictures and even store pictures to look at any time one accesses the account.

Advance medical directives makes individuals' desires known

Life is full of choices. The Colorado resident chooses where to live, which occupation to become proficient at and even who to spend his or her life with. For some individuals, the desire to continue making such choices is a motivating factor. These individuals also wish to make choices regarding their health care and the extent to which medical treatment will be given. With this in mind, these individuals may benefit from creating  advance medical directives.

Accidents and illnesses can drastically alter one's life. Within a matter of moments, an individual can suffer life-threatening injuries and decisions regarding what should be done will need to be made. Additionally, as one goes through life, the possibility of developing a terminal illness is always there. Again, at this moment in time, there are a number decisions that will need to be made.

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