Submitted by Wallace H. Grant
Is your will up to date? Do you have powers of attorney delegating financial and medical authority to a trusted family member or advisor? Do you have a living will? If not, spending some time updating your will and other estate planning documents would be a good holiday gift to your family, or a New Year’s Resolution that you can accomplish early in the New Year.
A Will is your opportunity to decide what happens to your estate upon your death. In your will, you can designate who you chose to administer your estate; you can select guardians for your minor children; you can establish trusts for young children or family members who have special needs; you can determine who is to receive your personal items, such as collections, special tools, antiques, etc.; and you can decide how the rest of your estate is to be divided and distributed. If you don’t have a will, those decisions are made by Colorado statutes, rather than by you!
Powers of attorney allow you to delegate decision making for financial or health-related matters during periods of your disability. If you become disabled, a financial power of attorney can specify who among your trusted family members or advisors you chose to authorize to pay your bills and take actions needed to protect your real and personal property. A medical power of attorney allows you to specify who you chose to make decisions related to your health and well-being during times when you are not mentally or physically able to make your own decisions. If you do not have financial and healthcare powers of attorney, those decisions either cannot be made or require an expensive and time-consuming legal action for the appointment of a guardian or conservator to manage your affairs. A power of attorney is a private, inexpensive and effective way to assure that your business and health care needs are addressed during your disability.
Most modern estate plans also include a Living Will which tells your family and health care providers what to do when it appears that you are near the end of your life. Do you want your life prolonged by life support devices? Do you want to be fed by intravenous means? Do you have any other special requests? A living will gives you the opportunity to make these end-of-life decisions.