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Golden Estate Planning Blog

Funeral planning as part of an estate plan

Some people in Florida might wonder whether they should include their wishes for funeral arrangements in a will. The advantage of putting this in a will is that it can be enforced. The disadvantage is that reading over the will is generally not the first step people take following the death of a loved one. Once the family finds and reviews the will, the funeral may have already taken place.

A better option may be to create what is known as a funeral planning declaration. This can include a person's instructions for the funeral or another memorial. It can also appoint someone to manage those arrangements. FPDs used to be rare, but they are growing in popularity. An alternative is discussing funeral plans with a funeral director. While this is not legally binding, it is a way that people can make their wishes known, and usually, loved ones make an effort to fulfill those wishes.

Choosing the right trustee for the job

Colorado residents thinking about the future of their assets and their family may be moved to create trusts to protect their property. By making use of a trust structure, individuals can plan for taxes, optimize their estate plans and provide specific mechanisms for the disbursement of their legacy in the years to come. However, trusts also require careful management and oversight, and one common mistake that people make when creating a trust is to turn to an inexperienced friend or family member to administer it.

People may wish to place a close friend or family member in charge of their trusts as an expression of their faith in them. While this faith can be well-placed, management of a trust requires not only good intentions and care but also commitment to fiduciary and legal responsibilities. Depending on the terms and the complexity of the trust, the trustee may need to make investment decisions, issue statements and account for the trust's assets.

Using technology to keep track of estate planning information

The information age has provided Colorado residents with new ways to stay in touch with one another and manage their financial affairs, but tracking down passwords and other login data for myriad banking, social media and email accounts can be an arduous and frustrating experience for friends or family members when a loved one has passed away. Financial planners and estate planning attorneys often recommend keeping track of bank and retirement accounts on what are known as estate document locators, and a number of technology-driven solutions have been released that can help to ensure that this information is complete and accurate.

These applications encourage individuals to gather all of their passwords and other user identification information, such as user names and the answers to security questions, so that they can be stored securely in a vault. Executors and beneficiaries will then have the data they need to manage and administer the estate, but this information is only useful if it is updated regularly. This is because financial institutions often require passwords to be changed regularly to protect sensitive data.

The advantages of having a pour-over will

You are a financially savvy Colorado resident who has set up a living trust to protect your assets while still benefitting from them. You may, nevertheless, have overlooked one document that many find useful. Do you have a pour-over will?

A pour-over will is one that works with a living trust so that any assets you own at the time of your death go into the trust even if you didn't place them there during your lifetime. Basically, you instruct the executor of your pour-over will to place any such assets in your trust. 

Conflicts in blended families and estate plans

It is not uncommon for there to be disputes in blended Colorado families over estate plans after a person's death, but these are generally clear legal matters. In one case, a woman learned that her father had left her a house although her stepmother had not mentioned this to her.

There are certain procedures that must be followed after a person's death. For example, all beneficiaries are supposed to receive a copy of the will. A person can find out if there is a will associated with an estate by filing a petition with the county clerk.

How to plan for digital assets in an estate plan

People in California who are creating an estate plan might also want to think about what they would like to happen to their digital assets such as social media and email accounts, information on flash drives, domains and any cryptocurrency accounts. A person should make a list of all of these accounts and any passwords or encryption keys.

Next, a person should think about what should be done with these accounts and who should be in charge of each one. An executor could be assigned to handle all digital assets. Making sure someone can access the email account is the most important step since this is where password reset emails will be sent. If a person has an email account with Google, the company offers a service called Inactive Account Manager that allows a person to choose for data to be deleted or for someone to be notified after a certain amount of time has passed.

Estate planning can provide a roadmap for loved ones

Many people in Colorado want to ensure that their loved ones and families will be taken care of after they're gone. With an adequate estate plan, this goal can be achieved. However, many Americans avoid estate planning, often due to confusion about the process or because of the unpleasant topics and emotions that can be stirred by considering one's own mortality. A 2016 survey claims that more than 64 percent of people throughout the country do not have a will.

When people die without a will, their families may deal with lengthy court processes and confusion that can squander a percentage of the assets involved in the estate. Making an estate plan can lay out clear guidelines for one's family members and help to resolve issues before they arise. When beginning the estate planning process, it can be important to develop a list of all of the assets that could be included.

How an existing trust may be changed

Colorado residents who want to make changes to a trust might wonder whether it would be better to amend the trust or create an entirely new one. First, they should make sure it is possible to amend the document. Most living trusts can be either amended or revoked.

Amendments are fairly simple to add. They simply state that the trust can be amended, say what the amendment is and acknowledge that the rest of the trust remains unchanged. However, if the trust is amended multiple times, it could start to create confusion for the trustee.

What are advance directives in estate planning?

There are numerous aspects of estate planning you need to consider when you see an attorney to draft the essential documents. According to The Denver Post, some of the most important items to take care of include joint tenancy ownership, beneficiary designation and a business succession plan. 

It is critical you do not overlook anything, especially when it comes to planning the advance directives. "Medical directives" is another phrase used to describe a set of instructions for people to follow should you experience a medical emergency. In your estate planning agreement, there are three primary components you want to include for these directives: 

Common mistakes in creating a living trust

Living trusts may be useful for people in Colorado in a number of ways. With a living trust, assets will not go through probate and will instead be passed directly to beneficiaries or will remain in the trust according to a person's instructions. A successor trustee may be able to manage the trust if a person is incapacitated. A power of attorney may make it easier for the trustee to step into this role.

However, one common error people make is creating the trust but failing to fund it. Simply creating the document is not enough. It is also necessary to place assets in it. For property such as homes and vehicles, this may involve changing the names on titles and deeds. For accounts, financial institutions usually have their own paperwork for transferring ownership to a trust. If these steps are not taken and the trust remains unfunded, when the person dies, the estate will go into probate and assets will be distributed based on a person's will or state law.

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