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Important estate planning documents for every adult

Many people in Colorado may lack important estate planning documents. One survey has found that about half of all Americans do not have a basic estate plan. One reason for this may be that some people believe estate planning is only necessary for the wealthy. For Millennials in particular, making an estate plan might seem low on the priority list. However, estate planning is important for people of all ages and income levels.

Among the most important documents in an estate plan are those that make a strategy in case the testator becomes incapacitated. A living will expresses the kind of treatment the estate holder wishes medical professionals to perform or withhold. Health care proxy documents appoint someone to make medical choices in the event of incapacitation. Similarly, a financial power of attorney designates someone to take care of financial issues. This may be particularly important for spouses who do not have joint financial accounts.

A last will and testament, which instructs loved ones as to how assets should be distributed, is important even if the estate holder has few assets. For parents, it can also name a guardian for minor children. A trust can protect assets for minor children.

Once an estate plan is created, it is important that the testator does not put it away and forget about it. Estate plans should be discussed with loved ones if possible. In particular, people chosen to manage financial and health care matters should be comfortable with their roles. An estate plan also needs to be reviewed regularly. A person's assets change over time as does their family situation through events such as marriages, divorces, births and deaths.

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Samuel J. Owen, P.C.
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Golden, CO 80401

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CBA | Colorado Bar Association | Established in 1897 Denver Bar Association | Since 1891 Nebraska | State Bar Association Naela | National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.