Common Pitfalls Surrounding Estate Planning

There are several pitfalls and misunderstandings that people can fall prey to while estate planning that can negatively affect the outcome of their parting wishes. In this blog, we’ll visit a few of them and see how they can adversely affect your estate planning mission.

Do Wills Mean You’ll Avoid Probate?

Common Pitfalls Surrounding Estate Planning | Pueblo Estate Planning Lawyers

Wrong! Having “only” a will oftentimes means your estate may have to go through probate. In Colorado, you can bypass probate and spare your family some much despised courtroom drama by using some of the following methods:

  • Living Trust – This tool is a lot like a will, but names a person who is to take over as trustee of an asset after your death. When you create a trust you’ll have to transfer ownership of your property to yourself first, then after you pass away your trustee or successor must transfer ownership to themselves in order to bypass going through the courts.
  • Joint Ownership – If you are living with your spouse or living with a significant other and you jointly own property together, and you set up the title to include “right of survivorship,” then your spouse or significant other automatically assumes ownership – no probate necessary and nothing else to do! In Colorado, you’ll need “joint tenancy” documentation proof, when or if you plan to sell the property. Colorado is one of a handful of states that allows “joint control” of assets. This can also apply to other assets, such as cars, bank accounts and other valuable assets.
  • Transfer-On-Death Registration for Securities – When setting up a brokerage account or other types of stocks or bonds, you can do this registration step to name a beneficiary. This will avoid having to go through probate court to re-assign the assets to the intended beneficiaries.

Not taking the few minutes to put these devices and documentation elements into play, could mean the difference between a smooth and pleasant transfer of assets to your inheritors or a cumbersome, court-laden hassle.

Disinheriting a Family Member

Some people think you disinherit family members, spouses or even children by leaving them paltry sums of money, like a dollar or two in your will. That’s just an old saying. If you want to disinherit someone, you need to expressly mention in your will that you disavow that person and leave them nothing. Your lawyer will craft that language.

Community Property

Many people think that just because they got married that their spouse is now entitled to half of everything you own. Not true! Anything you owned coming into the marriage or gifts received during the marriage are yours alone.

If I Have a Trust, No Will Necessary, Right?

Wrong! All a trust means is that you’ll avoid having to go through probate and perhaps avoid the estate tax on a particular asset left to a beneficiary. You’ll still want a will to name beneficiaries of other assets. Trusts, however, allow you the ability to afford beneficiaries protection, such as creditors or divorce protection. Trusts are a bit more complicated than wills and it’s recommended you work with knowledgeable Pueblo estate planning lawyers to set up titles and other paperwork required.

Contact the Pueblo Estate Planning Lawyers at Gradisar, Trechter, Ripperger & Roth

Do you have property and assets you’d like to set up into trusts or begin to make beneficiaries of your estate? If so, let the Pueblo Estate Planning Lawyers at Gradisar, Trechter, Ripperger & Roth do the legal leg work for you. Since 1972, our Pueblo Estate Planning Lawyers have been dedicated to helping our clients navigate the complexities of planning their estates, making irrevocable trusts and wills.

You can reach us to set up an estate planning session or to discuss wills or trusts by calling 719-415-3391 or by emailing us using the contact form on this page.

We have our headquarters located Pueblo, but we’ll service clients throughout the state of Colorado.