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Estate Planning

Estate Planning for Women: Helping with Control

Estate Planning for Women: Helping with Control

Kim Raemdonck

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Let me get it out of the way…the elephant in the room after such a polarizing title. Estate planning is for everyone. Period. Regardless of your age, your marital status, your perceived wealth, or your family size, everyone benefits from preparing for the unexpected, covering essentials, ensuring a lifestyle, and ultimately leaving a legacy with minimal probate and family disputes.

Women have a five year lengthier lifespan than men. If you’re single, you may specifically lay out how your assets are (or are not) distributed; think: family members, charitable organizations, reflecting your passions and pursuits, friends, or even your animals. Are you the Ultimate Auntie? Estate planning can set your heirs up for success, perhaps by creating an educational trust. Estate planning can even provide the opportunity to be in control of your medical decisions in the unfortunate event you may not be in a position to communicate your wishes. Estate planning may give you the ability to keep your assets and distributions private (through a vehicle like a Trust) by avoiding probate (a public process).

Married women, statistically, enter widowhood, ultimately becoming responsible for the administration of the wealth and other estate matters. A U.S. News article written by Coryanne Hicks points out, “it is typically the female’s estate plan that controls the ultimate disposition of wealth within, or outside, the family. But women may have had less involvement in decisions prior to the death of their spouse – at least historically…[G]iving women a solid foundation with which to make the final decisions around family wealth becomes all the more important.” Each client’s goals are different, of course, and are rarely differentiated by sex or what a family looks like. After all, each individual’s estate planning goals are as unique as his or her thumbprint. However, having increased female presence in the estate planning field brings value and balance to addressing these distinct goals.

I’m so grateful to know so many women in this field. I’m currently serving as President of the only Women’s Estate Planning organization in the United States! Per my observations and experiences, women are becoming increasingly involved in this profession, and for good reason! While traditional gender roles continue to evolve, clients are seeking representation who can also relate to their life experiences. Proactively seeking out women advisors benefits our clients. I’m so proud to be a part of a profession helping other women talk about hard conversations! At Legacy Planning and Probate, we strive to make conversations about death, divorce, and taxes approachable and educational.

Your health, wealth, and legacy are worth planning for tomorrow, today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

OF COUNSEL

Kim Raemdonck was born in Galveston, Texas, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University with honors. Kim went on to attend the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where she obtained a J.D. and an L.L.M. in taxation. She is admitted to practice law in Colorado and Texas and before the United States District Court for the District of Colorado and the United States Tax Court.

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Copyright Law

Should You Seek Foreign Intellectual Property Protection?

If you plan to conduct business abroad or have an online business that reaches customers abroad, you should consider seeking international intellectual property protection. Intellectual property protection is often limited to the country where you conduct business and/or where you file for protection with the respective foreign intellectual property office. For example, a U.S. trademark registration will not protect you against trademark disputes that arise in other countries. As another example, a U.S. patent prevents others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, and importing your patented invention in the U.S., but does not prevent others from doing the same in other countries.

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Estate Planning

Estate Planning FAQs

Estate Planning FAQs

Kim Raemdonck

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No one wants to think about the end of life. It’s a difficult, grief-stricken conversation that can be made tougher by uncertainty. This is why one of the most important ways we can show our loved ones how much we care about them is by making plans ahead of time. You may not see the need for estate planning now – you’re young and healthy, or don’t consider yourself wealthy, or aren’t sure what you want. But the best time to start is now, if not for you, for your loved ones. 

So, you may be asking: where do I start? Estate planning typically involves creation of basic documents, such as a Last Will and Testament, Living Will, Medical Power of Attorney, Financial Power of Attorney, and a Disposition of Last Remains. You may need all or some of those. They may be very straightforward or more complicated. Legacy Planning & Probate is here to simplify the process, address your needs, and provide you with peace of mind. Read on for some additional information and tips to get the process moving. 

Why do I need a Will? I’ll just let my kids hash it out when I’m gone and enjoy them, now, without ruffling feathers!

Having your estate planning affairs in place prior to your death is one of the best gifts you can give your family. In your will, you can direct to whom your assets are distributed and who will manage your affairs after your death.  If there are certain individuals who you do not want to leave anything to, you can also state this in your will. Being clear in your estate planning provides peace of mind for your friends and family members in an already difficult situation because your loved ones will feel confident that they are carrying out your wishes.  We are committed to giving you the tools you need to manage difficult conversations and plan for the future.

Does a Will override a beneficiary designation? 

A Will does not override a beneficiary designation. This is why reviewing your financial information during your estate planning discussions is an important step in the planning process.  At Legacy Planning and Probate, we work closely with you as we know that each circumstance is unique, and that everyone has issues that require nuanced care and patient understanding.

What is the difference between a Living Will and a Medical Power of Attorney?

Health care directives are an invaluable tool for getting you the care you want. But, because they only come up when you are unable to articulate those wants for yourself, it’s important to make those wishes clear when you are in an emotionally, mentally, and physically competent state. Many clients worry their unique requests or specific wishes won’t be honored by the healthcare system or their family members. Some do not have close family members to rely on, either. Simply put, a Living Will allows you to make known whether you would like life-prolonging medical treatments and for how long. A Living Will only takes effect when you are incapacitated and there is no real hope of recovery. A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to serve as your agent to make medical decisions should you become incapacitated.  

Why do I need a Financial Power of Attorney?

A Financial Power of Attorney, also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, names an agent that you trust to make financial decisions when you are unable to communicate your wishes. Our firm urges clients to consider including this document in their estate planning to ensure powers are streamlined when you need it most. Financial institutions are becoming more particular about allowing non-account holders to access accounts, even in cases of basic functions like paying bills. Financial Powers of Atorney can grant the agent the ability to perform important functions, such as file tax returns, buy/sell/manage real estate properties or vehicles, conduct business transactions, borrow money, handle insurance claims, etc. During an initial consultation, we will work with you to unpack your specific goals and the precise powers to include in your document. 

I’ll let my family figure out whatever is the best when the time comes. I don’t want to be a burden. Why would I specify things in a Disposition of Last Remains?

We constantly hear from clients that one of their biggest fears is becoming a burden on their family members later in life. We understand. Our solution is to help you clearly, thoughtfully, and compassionately explain details of how you’d like your body treated after you pass.  You can be as specific or as broad as you’d like, but often clients consider (and specify) how they want their body treated and where they’d like their remains to be located. But there are additional details you could include. Maybe you’d like to provide for your family members to go to your favorite destination and have a family trip in your memory. Whatever your unique intentions, we pride ourselves on working closely with our clients to discover their specific needs so that we can make challenging topics simple, straightforward, and educational. 

I don’t want to create “trust fund kids”. Why should I establish a Trust?

A Trust is a common method by which you can care for your loved ones when you’re no longer able. It’s true that some trusts are written in a way that allows beneficiaries to take advantage or otherwise enjoy a lifestyle that you may not like. The good news is that trusts can be flexible or fixed, and you can dictate the terms now to avoid unwanted behaviors down the road. In addition, trusts offer a variety of benefits that are worth considering. For instance, trusts can have tax benefits, they can help during times of illness or disability, and perhaps most importantly, trusts can help avoid the probate process. We can discuss the positives and negatives of trust formation and give you the opportunity to make the best decision for yourself and for your family. Whatever you decide, know that we are here to give you information and offer objective advice, and help you determine the path that works for you. 

We strive to help our clients and potential clients understand the depth and breadth of the industry! What other questions do you have about estate planning documents? Are you ready to get started? Be sure to contact us through the website by clicking here to send us a message with your questions or start the process. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

OF COUNSEL

Kim Raemdonck was born in Galveston, Texas, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University with honors. Kim went on to attend the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where she obtained a J.D. and an L.L.M. in taxation. She is admitted to practice law in Colorado and Texas and before the United States District Court for the District of Colorado and the United States Tax Court.

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Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers

Many women choose to breastfeed their newborns, as the benefits of nursing are well-established. However, returning to work can present challenges to nursing mothers. Currently, twenty-eight states have laws related to supporting nursing women at work, and Colorado is among them.

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Real Estate Law

FinCEN and Real Estate: Additional Disclosure Requirements May Be On the Horizon for Real Estate Transactions

As part of the anti-money laundering regime under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 (the “BSA”), in late 2021, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) division of the Department of the Treasury issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPRM”) seeking to address potential money laundering through real estate transactions. The comment period for the ANPRM closed on February 21, 2022. This ANPRM comes closely after the notice of proposed rulemaking related to the implementation of the Corporate Transparency Act (the “CTA”), which you can read more about here. Both the CTA and the proposed regulations under the ANPRM would require significant levels of disclosure regarding the beneficial ownership of companies and real estate in non-financed real estate transactions. These measures aim to reduce money laundering, and assets held by undisclosed foreign investors. It is estimated that between 2015 and 2020, at least $2.3 billion was laundered through U.S. real estate, though the actual figure is likely much higher Accordingly, both FinCEN and Congress are trying to limit the number of real estate transactions used to launder money.

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Family Law

Can I Write A Last Will and Testament On My Own?

Can I Write A Last Will and Testament On My Own?

Kim Raemdonck

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While you can technically write a will without the help of a lawyer, a notary, and witnesses, it is a dangerous option with the potential to fail entirely.

There are several formal requirements for a will. Formally, wills must be signed by their author (also referred to as the testator), and must be either (a) signed by two witnesses who witnessed the testator’s signature, or (b) notarized by a notary public (though to be safe, most lawyers will make sure that both (a) and (b) happen). However, these requirements are not absolute. Their purpose is to ensure that the will accurately and completely reflects the testator’s intention, and when that intention can be otherwise guaranteed, a will you write without the help of a lawyer may still be valid.

There are several ways to write your own will. One possibility is to write a holographic will, or a handwritten will. A holographic will is valid as a will so long as:

  1. It is in the testator’s own handwriting;
  2. It is clear from the language of the document that the testator intends the document to serve as his or her will;
  3. It is signed by the testator.

Therefore, if you handwrite your will, call it your will within the document itself, and sign it at the end, you can technically write a will in this way without the aid of a lawyer.

Another possibility is to simply write your own will in any format, sign it, and leave sufficient evidence that you intended the document to be your will. Again, where the purpose of the formal will requirements is otherwise fulfilled—that is, where it is clear that the will contains the testator’s true testamentary intentions—the probate court will not enforce the formal requirements of the will.

However, if you choose to write your own will, you run some serious risks. Though it is technically possible to avoid the formal will requirements, it is rather dangerous. A will that meets the formal requirements is consider self-proving—that is, the page the contains the witness signatures and the notary stamp is considered sufficient proof, within the will itself, that the will is valid. Lacking these formalities, a probate court must examine external evidence to determine whether the will is valid. For example, if you write a holographic will, your beneficiaries must prove in court that the will is in your handwriting. This can be a time-consuming and expensive process, and it is not even guaranteed to work! It is entirely possible that your beneficiaries could fail to prove that you wrote the will, or that you intended it to be a will at all, in which case all of your wishes would become invalid.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

OF COUNSEL

Kim Raemdonck was born in Galveston, Texas, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University with honors. Kim went on to attend the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where she obtained a J.D. and an L.L.M. in taxation. She is admitted to practice law in Colorado and Texas and before the United States District Court for the District of Colorado and the United States Tax Court.

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Estate Planning

Estate Planning for Women: Helping with Control

Let me get it out of the way…the elephant in the room after such a polarizing title. Estate planning is for everyone. Period. Regardless of your age, your marital status, your perceived wealth, or your family size, everyone benefits from preparing for the unexpected, covering essentials, ensuring a lifestyle, and ultimately leaving a legacy with minimal probate and family disputes.

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Dude, Diligence?

The due diligence process in the purchase and sale of a business can seem daunting and cumbersome. Any attorney or financial professional worth his or her salt will tell you that conducting adequate diligence is paramount and, despite what will almost certainly feel like an unnecessarily lengthy and intrusive process, serves to mitigate risks for buyers and sellers alike.
This post is meant to provide a very basic framework of the due diligence process in asset deals to assist buyers and sellers in understanding (a) what they are looking at, (b) what they should be looking for, and (c) setting expectations about how the process looks, and where it can go awry. This post should not be relied on as legal advice, and you should always engage counsel and other financial and tax professionals if you are considering buying or selling a business.

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Categories
Estate Planning

Pet Trusts: Estate Planning for Your Pets in Colorado

Pet Trusts: Estate Planning for Your Pets in Colorado

Kim Raemdonck

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Originally published at Legacy Planning & Probate by Kim Raemdonck.

Many of us consider our pets to be a part of our families, but what many may not realize is that we can plan for our beloved animals in our estate planning documents. Have you thought about who you would want to care for your pets in the event of your death? Should you leave their caretakers a certain amount of money to cover expenses? If you have multiple pets, would you want them all to go to the same loving home?  All of these issues (and more) can be addressed in your documents. 

Furthermore, much like one can create a trust to benefit his or her loved ones, Colorado law allows us to create what are colloquially known as “pet trusts.” A pet trust can be used to guarantee that your animal companions would be cared for – emotionally and financially – in the event of your death or disability. Setting up this type of trust can ensure that your pet goes to the caregiver of your choice, that this caregiver has the funds necessary to take care of your pet over a period of time, and that the caretaker maintains your pets’ current standard of living.

You may be asking yourself how do I go about creating a pet trust?

Similar to creating a trust for a family member, an experienced estate planning attorney can assist you in drafting these documents while catering a plan to fit what you want for your pet’s future. Some things to consider when creating a pet trust include (1) your pet’s current standard of care, (2) who you would like to act as caregiver, and (3) the amount you estimate the caregiver will need to handle pet-related expenses. It is also important to think about how you would like the remaining trust assets to be distributed once your pet has passed away. If you already have an existing estate plan, a pet trust can easily be incorporated into your existing documents. Alternatively, your current documents can be amended to include a simple provision regarding your animals. Reach out to Kim Raemdonck for assistance in planning for your furry friends!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

OF COUNSEL

Kim Raemdonck was born in Galveston, Texas, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University with honors. Kim went on to attend the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where she obtained a J.D. and an L.L.M. in taxation. She is admitted to practice law in Colorado and Texas and before the United States District Court for the District of Colorado and the United States Tax Court.

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