Estate Planning

estate-planning-attorney-lone-tree-opfer-stowellThere are a number of ways to ensure that your final wishes are followed by your family members when you can no longer manage your own affairs or upon your death. Whether you have a large or small estate, you have the right to decide how your assets should be distributed and your affairs managed. Some of the estate planning documents we can help you prepare include:

Last Will & Testament

Under Colorado law, a properly executed will allows you to name the person whom you wish to handle your estate and other issues such as how your estate should be divided and burial and funeral/memorial service instructions. Like other legal documents, it is typically best to have a will prepared by an attorney.

Living Wills

Colorado residents can designate their wishes regarding end-of-life medical care by preparing a living will. This document is also called a “Declaration as to Medical Treatment” or “Advanced Directive” and provides your friends, family and medical care providers with documentation of your wishes should you receive a terminal diagnosis or fall into a persistent vegetative state. This document allows you to be secure in the knowledge that your last wishes will be honored and that you can live and die with dignity.

Powers of Attorney

When you develop medical conditions or other issues that result in your being unable to handle your own medical and financial matters, a power of attorney can be a helpful tool. An executed power of attorney allows you to choose a trusted friend, family member or organization to manage your affairs in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Residents of Douglas, Arapahoe, Denver, Jefferson, Adams and El Paso Counties who are interested in planning their estate should consider contacting Opfer & Stowell P.C. at (303) 791-0995 or fill out the contact form below for assistance. We have years of experience helping clients ensure that their final wishes are carried out.

Trust Planning

No, trusts are not just for the wealthy! The biggest misconceptions about a trust are that its primary purpose is to avoid paying taxes, and to control the actions of heirs. While trusts can be used to address estate and gift taxes, the vast majority of people utilize trusts to protect their children, protect their property from creditors, and protect beneficiaries from themselves.

While there are multiple types of trusts that Opfer | Campbell P.C. provides, the most common version is a living trust. Created by a person or couple during their lifetime, the trust is “funded” with all of the assets owned by the creator(s), with instructions as to how those assets are held, managed, and distributed if the creator becomes disabled or passes away. Living trusts offer maximum flexibility, plus they can be revised up until the death of the creator, and in the State of Colorado, a person or couple can execute a plan that lasts up to 90 years.

Any adult can create a living trust, but most importantly, they should be used by individuals with minor children, individuals who want to leave an inheritance for anyone disabled, and for individuals that want to protect a beneficiary’s inheritance from their own self-destruction (e.g. substance abuse). While it may seem daunting to create a trust, the process can be extremely easy and fast, and the attorneys at Opfer | Campbell P.C. will provide you with free annual reviews to ensure your trust is properly maintained and functioning.

Charitable Giving

More so than ever before, individuals are choosing to leave a portion, or all, of their estate to charities when they pass away. Whether a charity serves as the final beneficiary after everyone else has passed, or the charity is the primary beneficiary, estate plans commonly contain gifts to nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and religious groups. So, what are a person’s charitable options?

Beyond a simple distribution, many people do not realize the potential tax savings involved with creating a trust solely for charitable giving. The most common types are Charitable Remainder Trusts and Charitable Lead Trusts, each of which has a very different structure and objective. The bottom line, however, is that these trusts can be utilized to leave any amount of money or property to the charity of your choice, while providing tax benefits to whatever is held in the trust, and your heirs can benefit from the gift by receiving trust property at reduced taxes. Many factors go into charitable planning, though, including other instruments in place with your plan, the desired tax planning, the actual benefit you want to bestow upon the charity, and the length of time you want the trust to exist. Utilizing competent legal counsel, tax counsel, and financial advisors will allow you to create the best plan to meet your goals.

Tax Planning

With passage of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, most Americans no longer need to worry about losing their inheritance to “death taxes,” also known as the federal estate tax. Each individual now has an amount of money and property they can own at the time of their death, free and clear, before any such taxes are imposed. As of 2017, that number is $5.49 million per person, or $10.98 million for a married couple. It is critical that if you are approaching or have exceeded those exemption amounts, you immediately speak with legal and financial counsel to address the possible tax liability.

For everyone else, tax planning focuses largely on (1) addressing and minimizing income taxes as you age, as well as those that might be imposed on your heirs; and (2) addressing and minimizing capital gains taxes that might reduce the value of your investments. While these issues are customarily easy to address, they are extremely difficult to fix if proper planning did not occur and heavy taxes (and fines, and penalties) have been levied.

Our attorneys have years of experience assisting individuals and families with proper tax planning, and through collaboration with local and highly qualified financial professionals, they can help you develop and implement a long-term tax plan.