Your will serves as a foundation for your estate plan
Traditionally, the cornerstone of an estate plan is a carefully designed will. It expresses your wishes in several important ways.
- With a will, you can make provisions for your spouse, descendants, and other family members. You can also provide for non-family beneficiaries and charities, who otherwise would receive nothing from your estate through default Colorado laws.
- A will allows you to choose the person you want to serve as personal representative of your estate. Further, it gives parents of minor children the opportunity to choose their guardian, should the need arise.
Denver estate planning attorney David W. Osterman has over 30 years of experience advising individuals and families on proper will structure and other wealth preservation tools. To ensure that your family is taken care of and your assets are protected, contact our office online or at 303-759-3199 today.
Limitations of a will
It is just as important to realize what a will cannot do. The distribution of some assets is determined by law. For example, property owned jointly with the right of survivorship passes automatically to the surviving joint owner, not according to your will.
Any provisions regarding the distribution of such property in your will are ineffectual if the joint owner survives. Similarly, a surviving spouse has certain rights under Colorado state law that can't be trumped by the will, unless the couple has an agreement to waive those statutory rights provided to a surviving spouse that would otherwise normally apply in such a situation.
What you need to know about writing a will
Writing a will is not necessarily a complex task for smaller estates, and many people choose to write their own wills without significant negative effects.
However, for those with significant assets and/or family issues which may lead to a will being contested, writing a will with the advice of an attorney can help avoid issues upon your passing.
While an attorney can be of significant assistance in helping you draft a will, you will need to determine certain important things such as:
- Who your executor will be
- What assets you wish to leave to whom
- Who will serve as guardian for your minor children
- Who will take care of your pets
- How your business is to be dealt with
Your will must be signed and witnessed by two witnesses in order to be valid.
How Probate Fits In
The distribution of your estate according to your will is generally done through a legal process known as probate. Probate may not always be avoided, but a skilled estate planning attorney can help you set up your estate so that a majority of your assets are transferred automatically when you pass away, through a variety of wealth preservation tools.
Additional Considerations for Estate Planning
Depending on your life circumstances, different estate planning tools aside from a will may be advisable. For instance, if you have a family, you may want to make sure that the coverage your life insurance provides is enough to take care of them.
Or, if you own a business or have co-owners, you need to make sure that the transfer of your share is done with a business succession plan or another type of agreement.