Get The Fresh Start That You
As a Denver family law and bankruptcy attorney, Mark J. Berumen is sensitive to his clients' needs on a personal level and strives to provide them thorough, level-headed, knowledgeable, reliable and effective legal counsel every step of the way. You do not have to let bankruptcy and family law decisions fall on your shoulders alone.
A will is possibly the most common document that comes to mind when you think of estate planning. A will is a document that takes effect after a person passes away. After you pass away, the executor named in your will applies to be appointed by the court to obtain Letters Testamentary and officially act as the personal representative of your estate. Probating a will can be a fairly simple process in Texas compared to other states, but it is important to have not only a valid will, but one with the appropriate language allowing for an independent administration.
A trust is another document about which many have probably heard but few fully understand. There are many types of trusts that can be created for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most common type is the revocable trust, which is a flexible tool for maintaining privacy and avoiding probate. A revocable trust is also a reliable means of owning out-of-state property and avoiding conflict when a family has complicated or unique family dynamics. Irrevocable trusts can be a tax and liability planning device. Special needs trusts can protect and pass wealth to those family members who may rely on government assistance.
Powers of Attorney
A will or trust is not all you need when preparing your estate plan. In addition to these documents, which are mainly in place to handle affairs upon your passing, our attorneys prepare several other “core” documents that will help facilitate your care should you become incapacitated or need someone to act on your behalf. These documents include a financial power of attorney, medical power of attorney, HIPAA authorization, directive to physicians and declarations of guardian. These are critical documents for anyone over the age of 18, which is the age a child becomes legally recognized as an adult and a parent loses the right to act on the child’s behalf.
Every adult should have a medical and financial power of attorney. Without one, no other person can access your financial information or handle your finances, even if you need someone to help you. Your closest relatives are assumed to have the ability to make medical decisions, but considering the small cost of a power of attorney, it is best to make it clear who would make the decisions for you, and what your attitude toward end-of-life issues (pulling the plug).
Generally, every adult should have a Will. Having a will is the only to ensure that your property will go to the loved ones you choose. Also, having a will is the only way to specify who should be in charge of managing your estate after you die.
Nevertheless, there are a small number of people who may not need a will. However, to determine whether you are one of the few who do not need a will, you should consult an attorney. Remember, without charge or obligation, I will advise you whether you do need a will in your situation, and give you an up-front flat fee for your recommended documents.
Any will should be prepared by a capable attorney (for a reasonable charge). The cost of having a will prepared by an attorney is well worth it. Only an attorney can give you the assurance that will has been made in compliance with state laws and will accomplish your goals in a variety of circumstances. The laws of interpreting wills can be very technical. For this reason, there are many ways to innocently sabotage your plans in a will. Even Warren Burger, (former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court) wrote a will for himself that was quite lacking. Slight errors or conflicts in a will can cause serious legal problems or create unnecessary estate taxes. Because the point of having a will is security and certainty, consulting an attorney is critical.
The most common type of client who needs more elaborate planning in a will, whether the client is single or married, is one who has minor children. I strongly recommend that parents include a minor´s trust in their will in case the parent dies while the children are quite young. A minor´s trust is used to entrust the parent´s property (now the child's) to a suitable adult to manage and spend the money on the child´s behalf until the child has reached an age of the client´s choosing (21, 30, 35, etc.). I will work with clients to include any guidelines they wish to include in their instructions to the trustee that will affect how funds are to be spent for the children´s benefit.
The second category of clients who may need a more complex will are married couples, whose combined net worth exceeds $5,000,000. In this case, more sophisticated tax planning may be advisable to help clients avoid substantial estate taxes. This is an area of law that is constantly changing. For current information, you should call my office.
Of course, any client may have a particular need for more extensive planning, based on that client´s own circumstances and desires. Consulting with a capable attorney will ensure that your will meets your particular goals.
I cannot provide fee estimates without discussing your particular situation. I can usually quote a fixed fee after a few minutes of a consultation, generally between $1,000 and $2,500 depending on whether my client is an individual or married couple, whether a trust is needed, and including all associated documents (power of attorney, living will, beneficiary deed).
I keep all Wills I have prepared for clients on my computer. To avoid any possible problems of interpretation, I recommend that when changes are needed, we reprint the whole will with the changes made and destroy the old will. For routine changes (changing a name, adding a name, etc.) I charge a nominal fee for this service. To significantly change wills, or update a will that I did not prepare, my regular and reasonable will preparation fee usually will apply.
Your property that is not directed to a particular person (through joint tenancy or a beneficiary designation) become part of your estate, whether or not you have a will. Without a will, the law attempts to guess where you wanted your property go, generally to your spouse or closest relative(s). Sometimes, the presumption made by law is accurate. However, in most cases, the presumption does not accurate predict your wishes. The only way to ensure that your property is given to the people you desire is with a will. A will also provides you a critical opportunity to name the person you want to run your estate when you die.
A Trustee is a person you appoint in your Will or Revocable Trust to manage, use and distribute assets for the benefit of another person or persons ("Beneficiary"), usually minors until they reach a certain age. This person will handle the investments as well as make decisions on any distributions made on behalf of the Beneficiary in accordance with the rules you set up in your Trust.
A guardian is the person or persons you appoint in your Will to raise your children if you have died. A guardian is like a substitute parent.
Yes. It is common to appoint the same person to perform all functions. You can also select a different person for each function. For instance, a parent may have a sister that would be a fantastic guardian ("substitute parent") but may not be very responsible with money. Another relative or friend could be the Trustee and manage the money for the parent´s child, distributing the money to the guardian for the child´s benefit when needed.