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Woodland Park Family Law And Estate Planning Law Blog

Estate planning strategies to avoid probate

Probate is not an inherently bad process. In fact, for individuals who pass away with incomplete or vague estate plans, probate can help sort out testamentary issues related to the distribution of their assets. However, many Colorado residents wish to avoid having their estates be probated. This is because probate can be costly and can tie up estates for months as problems are slowly worked through.

There are some ways that individuals can avoid having their estates probated. One way is to use financial devices that allow for death beneficiary designations. These accounts allow the account owner to name who they want to receive the assets upon their death. For example, a parent may name their child the death beneficiary on their retirement account and, therefore, the account would become the property of the child when the parent died.

3 Reasons why you should avoid a DIY divorce

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects are great when you want fresh ideas on how to decorate for a party and you want to save some money. But the concept is not so great when your future, finances and children are on the line. It may appear appealing to save money and push yourself through a divorce process bypassing proper legal representation, but you might want to think twice before venturing down that path.

Couples who separate are often imbalanced financially afterwards. The lack of immediate funds to secure a divorce lawyer, may lead to taking the “easy” way out, but suffer long-term as a result. Unfortunately, the one who bears the cost of a botched divorce is yourself and any children who are at the mercy of your execution and decision making.

Now is a great time to assess your estate planning needs

Thoughts about the future are common as the end of the year approaches. Across Colorado individuals may be making plans to meet 2019 with renewed vigor and a commitment to reaching their goals. However, those plans may be relatively short viewed in the great scheme of things. Many people could benefit from taking a close look at their estate plans and end of life arrangements.

An estate plan sets forth what will happen to a person's assets when they die. It can be a simple arrangement of documents that provide clear directions to their estate administrators about where their wealth should go, or it can be a complex arrangement of legal tools that ensure their beneficiaries are identified and provided for. What readers should realize is that estate plans can be written to serve the specific needs of their creators and to accomplish their goals with regard to their end of life wealth.

The role of a child's preferences in their custodial plan

On any given day a child may prefer to have one parent in charge of them. If a Colorado youth got into a fight with their mother, for instance, then they may prefer to spend the rest of the day with their father. If their father told them it was bedtime, the child might run to their mother for a reprieve.

When parents work together under the same roof, then they can balance out their children's desires and changes in attitude toward them. However, when it comes to establishing parental responsibilities subject to a child custody plan, parents may not fully understand their children's deeply held preferences regarding where they will live.

Maintenance payments will no longer be tax deductible

Earlier this year, this Colorado-based family law blog discussed how maintenance may be addressed during a divorce. Maintenance is the payment of support from one former partner to their ex, and maintenance may last for a varying amount of time. Whether maintenance will be awarded in a particular divorce will depend on many factors that are unique to the divorcing couple.

However, readers who are in the process of settling their divorces and working out maintenance agreements should know that a big change is on the horizon for how maintenance is viewed under the tax laws. As of now, a person who pays maintenance to their ex may deduct the amount they pay from their taxable income and lower their tax basis. After December 31, they will no longer be able to do that.

How does legal custody differ from physical custody?

Working out how two Colorado parents will continue to effectively co-parent their kids after a divorce can be one of the most challenging aspects of settling the end of a marriage. While the parents may both want their kids to live permanently with them, they must make concessions and recognize how their children's interests may be best served through the planning and implementation of a schedule for their physical care. Physical custody is the type of custody that deals with where children will live when their parents are no longer together. Legal custody is a different set of rights that parents may fight for when they must share their kids with their exes.

Unlike physical custody legal custody does not have to do with the physical location of a child. Rather, legal custody concerns itself with how a child is raised and how decisions about their care are made. A parent with physical custody can make day-to-day decisions about a child's care, such as whether the child can go to a friend's house after school or if the child can watch tv before finishing their homework. Legal custody has to do with big decisions that can have long-term effects on the child.

What are the benefits of making a trust?

Even though you can create an estate plan at any time, not many people want to think about what might happen after they pass away. That is understandable--the last thing anyone wants to think about is dying. However, it is crucial to set up an estate plan to protect the people and assets in your life after you leave it.

One way to do this is through a trust. Trusts allow you to assign specific assets or responsibilities to the individuals in your life, often called beneficiaries in these matters.

The role of advance directives in long-term care planning

Most people enjoy the autonomy of making decisions for themselves. They may take pleasure in choosing their own homes, associating with the people they enjoy, and working in careers where they feel successful and valued. The right to live one's life as they see fit is enjoyed by Colorado residents and many others throughout the nation.

However, it is a sad fact that as people age, it can be harder and harder for them to manage the important decisions that go along with living independently. Particularly when an illness or injury prevents them from maintaining their physical and mental abilities, many older individuals find themselves dependent on the assistance and care of other people. When life becomes more difficult for a person to manage, they may need to take legal steps to protect their rights and choices about the future.

A review of the probate process

Probate is a legal process that everyone has heard of but few people actually understand. Colorado residents may know that it has something to do with a person's death and how that person's money and property are distributed among the person's heirs. These basic facts are generally true, but there is a lot more to probate that people should know, so they can make good choices about how to prepare their estate to avoid it.

When a person owns property, they can do so on their own or they may share that property with others. For example, spouses may both have their names on the titles to their cars or two people may jointly own a bank account out of which either may draw funds. When property is owned by two or more people, it generally remains the property of the survivors when one of those individuals dies. Property that automatically transfers to another person upon a person's death does not have to go through probate.

How does a court decide where a child will live?

One of the biggest questions that parents may have when they choose to end their marriages is where their children will live once the parents' divorces are finalized. In Colorado, parents may share custody of their kids or courts may grant sole custody to just one of the parents of a divorcing couple. The decision to permit shared child custody or to order sole custody will depend upon many factors specific to the families in question.

It is easier to split legal custody of a child because ultimately a child does not have to be present for parents to make important decisions about their upbringing. However, splitting physical custody, or the form of custody that concerns where a child will live, is much harder. Moving a child from house to house can be disruptive to their life and may cause them to suffer stress.

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