Wills and Trusts
There are many excellent reasons why people chose to do wills and/or trusts as part of their estate planning. Here are some to consider:
Most people include a Living Will in their estate planning documents. This is the “pull the plug” document instructing your family members and medical providers to withdraw life sustaining procedures (e.g., a ventilator) if you have an incurable or irreversible injury, disease or illness which is determined to be terminal by your attending physician and one other physician, and for a period of at least seven consecutive days and you have been unable to communicate decisions concerning your health care. The Living Will also gives you the ability to provide direction as to the provision of artificial nourishment (i.e., intravenous feeding) if it is the only procedure being provided to you after the removal of life support.
Medical Power of Attorney
With a Medical Power of Attorney, a person appoints another person (often a spouse or adult child) to make medical decisions for that person when they are unable to do so. The powers can be quite broad or tailored to a person’s specific desire, but usually include decisions as to resuscitation, general medical care, operations, medications, nursing home or hospice care, and the disclosure of medical records.
General Durable Power of Attorney
This is a powerful document where a person appoints another person (generally a spouse or adult child) to act as that person’s agent with the ability to sign that person’s name on their behalf for the transaction of financial matters, real estate matters, banking matters, etc. The purpose for this document is to allow a loved and trusted one to act on a person’s behalf and avoid having to go to court to have a conservator appointed to handle a person’s affairs in the event a person becomes incapacitated. This powerful document is usually prepared so that it may be used without a person’s consent or knowledge or disability so that it may be accepted and relied upon by financial institutions and others to whom it is directed. Once signed, the Power of Attorney may also be revoked if so desired.
Our firm provides legal counsel on the various aspects of probate, some of which include the following:
Owning real estate, oil and gas rights or tangible personal property in several different states will pose a unique challenge when planning your estate. This is because the laws of the state where the real estate or tangible personal property is physically located will govern what will happen to the out-of-state property after you die, not the laws of the state where you live at the time of your death. This leads to ancillary probate.
Ancillary probate refers to a probate proceeding that is required in addition to the primary probate proceeding that will take place in your home state. Typically ancillary probate will be necessary because you own a piece of real estate that is located outside of your home state, although it could apply to tangible personal property, such as a car, boat, or airplane, that is registered and titled outside of your home state, or livestock or oil, gas, or mineral rights that are attached to real estate located outside of your home state. The recent oil and gas rush in Colorado has led to many ancillary probates for interests that had been forgotten about many, many years ago and now with the activity those old interests need to be administered to place title in the correct heir.