Protect Your Best Interests: Work with a Grand Junction, CO Estate Probate Attorney Now
Asset protection is one of the most important services a probate attorney provides to their clients. Clients spend the better part of their lifetime gathering valuable assets and memorializing their last wishes in a last will and testament or a trust, and they will turn to an estate probate attorney for this. Likewise, clients who are seeking to probate a last will and testament may contact a Colorado probate lawyer to do this.
Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament is designed to transfer real property and personal assets from the testator to his selected beneficiaries. The testator is the individual who creates the last will and testament. The beneficiaries are the individuals that receive a bequest from the testator. The executor or executrix is the individual identified by the testator to carry out his or her last wishes. A last will and testament is typically executed in the presence of the attorney and in front of independent witnesses. Those witnesses are required to confirm that the testator had legal capacity to execute the will and that they were not being coerced. A last will and testament conveys ownership to real property, liquid assets, and personal possessions to their beneficiaries. Items such as life insurance, 401(k) investment accounts, and annuities have their own beneficiaries and pass outside of the will. At the time of the death of the testator, it is the role of the probate attorney to have the last will and testament presented at the county surrogate court. This process normally requires the executor and a Grand Junction, CO estate probate attorney to appear before the county surrogate so that the will may be reviewed and approved. At the time of approval, letters testamentary will be issued to the executor so that he or she may carry out the final wishes of the testator.
In some instances, a probate lawyer may recommend that a client consider executing a revocable or an irrevocable trust. These instruments allow the testator’s beneficiaries to avoid probate, which is sometimes lengthy and complicated as a process. In certain instances, individuals that were left out of the Will choose to contest the will, or some beneficiaries are difficult to locate. This can prolong the probate process and prevent legitimate beneficiaries from receiving their bequests for several years. If a testator believes that there may be issues with properly probating his or her will, they might elect to have a trust drafted instead. A trust may be revocable or irrevocable and is an instrument where the maker will place the ownership of the property in trust for their beneficiary until he or she passes away. At the time of their passing, the property will pass to the beneficiary by operation of law. There is no requirement to appear before the county surrogate. Furthermore, inheritance taxes may also be avoided using this instrument. Following a full legal consultation, it is the role of a Grand Junction, CO estate probate lawyer to properly advise the client which method best suits their needs. For some clients, a last will and testament might be the best course of action. Typically, a husband and wife will execute reciprocal wills that state that the first to pass away will transfer all of their assets to the surviving spouse. Thereafter, the surviving spouse will then bequest all of their assets to their selected beneficiaries. These are known as simple wills, and individuals that do not have many real estate holdings or liquid assets typically choose a last will and testament. Individuals who have invested in real estate over the years or who believe that there might be a contest to their will typically choose a trust. Those individuals may also believe beneficiaries might be hard to locate and could be seeking to avoid inheritance taxes. These are complicated legal issues that an experienced Colorado probate lawyer will discuss with the client at the time of their consultation.
The following are factors that the estate probate attorney will review with the client. There are many types of probate to discuss and review before deciding which instrument best suits the client’s needs:
A small estate is one where the testator dies with $50,000 or less in assets and owns no real property. By filing an affidavit, the next of kin can avoid probate and distribute the assets of the deceased to the beneficiaries without the necessity of probate.
Where there is a valid will and there does not appear to be a challenge, the court will appoint a personal representative to handle the affairs of the deceased.
Here, the executor and the estate lawyer appear before the county surrogate and seek the issuance of letters testamentary that provide the executor with the legal authority to carry out the last wishes of the testator.
This is a last will and testament where there are no estate tax plans contemplated or set forth in the instrument.
Will with Contingent Trust
This is a last will and testament that will not be subject to inheritance tax if combined with the surviving spouse’s estate. This instrument gives the surviving spouse more options with regard to a tax plan after the death of the testator.
Marital Deduction Will
This instrument allows a surviving spouse to receive assets from the deceased with a reduction on the estate taxes that are due.
No matter your circumstances, an estate probate lawyer should be consulted if you are considering asset protection or transferring any of your assets to your family or friends at the time of your death. A Grand Junction, CO estate probate attorney like Trace Tyler has the experience needed to advise you of your rights and remedies, always considering your unique set of circumstances, and should be consulted regularly as your needs grow, develop, and evolve.