Patrick Plank, attorney
Frequently Asked Questions

What is Estate Planning?

  Three simple steps in estate planning:
    1. Meeting with you to determine how you want your property
        to pass at death - and who should act for you in case you
        are disabled or die.

    2. Preparing the appropriate legal documents to meet your wishes.

    3. Coordinating how assets are titled and beneficiaries are des-
        ignated so your estate plan works as it is designed.

 A typical estate plan includes a:
  -Will (with trust for any minor or incomplete beneficiaries)
    -General Durable Power of Attorney
    -Medical Durable Power of Attorney
    -Living Will

A Will a written document that states how you want your property
    to pass at your death. You also appoint a guardian to take care
    of any minor children, a personal representative (also known as
    executor) to carry out the terms of your Will and wrap-up all
    your financial matters, and a trustee to manage and distribute
    property on behalf of a minor child or someone who cannot
    handle financial matters.

A Financial Power of Attorney used to appoint someone to handle your finances in case
    you are unavailable or incompetent. The person acting on your
    behalf is called an agent. The agent can have broad power to
    handle all of your financial matters or you can limit an agent's
    power. You want to appoint someone who you completely
    trust to take care of your finances.

 A Medical Power of Attorney used to appoint someone to make health care decisions in
    case you are unable to communicate those decisions with your
    doctor (for example, if you are in a coma). You want to appoint
    someone who is very strong emotionally and who would be able
    to handle making end-of-life decisions.

A Living Will a document whereby you state that: if two doctors certify
    you are terminal and comatose (or unconscious), life sustaining
    procedures would be stopped after a specified period of time
    (usually seven days).

    It is critical that the Medical Power of Attorney and Living
    Will are coordinated so that it is clear what should happen in
    case of a conflict between the two documents.
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What are the biggest mistakes made in
Estate Planning?

    Our demise is unpleasant to think about so often we simply do
    nothing. After someone dies, we sometimes hear, “Mom promised
    me that I could have the house, but she never did a will.” If a
    valid will is not prepared, any assets in mom's name will pass
    according to Colorado law. Verbal promises of gifts upon death
    are not enforceable.
If you want to make sure the proper
    people get your property, then you must have a valid will

Hands down, this is where many attorneys make the most money.
    If you want to ensure that your family will fight in court for years
    over your estate and put lots of money in attorneys pockets,
    this is the way you should go. Do-It-Yourselfers often forget to
    get witnesses, notaries, or fail to use clear language in the will.
    The same can be true with attorneys who do not specialize in
    estate planning.

    Do yourself and your beneficiaries a favor: Have your will
    prepared by an attorney who concentrates his or her practice
    on estate planning.
Your beneficiaries will love you for it.

Not coordinating your will, joint tenancy assets and
    beneficiary designations
   An example is where the deceased mom's will provided that her
    estate would be divided equally between her son and daughter.
    However, daughter was a “joint tenant” on a $100,000 bank
    account. At mom's death, the $100,000 joint tenancy bank
    account passed automatically to daughter in spite of what the
    will provided. This resulted in litigation between the son and
    daughter. The son and daughter have never spoken since.
  Avoid unintended results like this by working with an
    attorney who specializes in estate planning.
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Who needs an Estate Plan? Everyone!

If you fail to prepare a valid will, your property is transferred   according to the laws of Colorado at your death. You also forfeit the right to designate a guardian for any minor children, personal representative to carry out the terms of your will and trustee to manage property for any minor children. As a result, the courts will make those decisions for you. Don't you believe it is better for you to be able to make those decisions?
Patrick Plank has the answer to these and many other estate planning questions:

   Why is it important to have a will and estate plan?

  Should I purchase a book, will kit, blank forms or software pro-
    gram and prepare my own will?

  What are the best ways to simplify life for my loved ones in the
    event of my death or disability?

  What can happen to my children if I don't establish a plan?

  What is the value of coordinating my plans with an accountant,
    financial planner, insurance agent and others?

  I don't have a large estate, why do I need a will?

  How should title be recorded for the real estate, bank account
    and other assets that I own?

  How should I name the beneficiaries for life insurance, IRAs,
    401(k)s and company retirement plans?

 Why should I designate “a power of attorney?”

 What proceeds should I follow to assure my wishes are know to
    my family and medical providers in the event of terminal illness
    or disability?

  How do I avoid probate proceedings?

  In addition to taxes, what other costs are involved in settling an
    estate? How do I minimize those costs?

 As a business owner, what special factors should I consider in
    my estate plan?

 Isn't it expensive to have a will prepared - or how much
    expensive will it be
not to have a will?
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