Hull & Chandler, P.A. works diligently to provide clients effective resolutions in an efficient manner. We are available and responsive as we help clients achieve their goals.
Hull & Chandler attorneys will assist you with planning and organizing your affairs to ensure proper management in the event of incapacity or death. We will provide a wide variety of estate planning options adjusted to meet the needs of each individual client. At your confidential initial consultation, we will discuss various estate planning tools and your individual needs. We analyze how you hold title to your assets and may make certain recommendations to ensure they work conjunctively with your estate planning documents. We will construct an estate plan specific to you and your family’s needs. All our estate planning at Hull & Chandler is conducted on a flat fee basis. Below are examples of some estate planning tools.
We will draft your Will to establish how you want your assets distributed after your death. In your Will, you nominate who you want to wind up your estate’s affairs, the personal representative (executor). You can also nominate a guardian to care for and raise your minor children. We will clearly articulate how your assets will be devised and how your taxes, if any, should be paid. Hull & Chandler attorneys have extensive years of experience drafting custom Wills. Regardless of the size of your family and assets, you need a Will. However, you should take caution to ensure it is drafted by a competent attorney or else it may cause more damage than good for your loved ones.
Your Separate Memorandum allows you to specify persons to receive your personal tangible items after your death, such as a watch, grandfather clock or baseball card collection. These types of assets are usually listed in a Separate Memorandum, rather than a Will, as the Separate Memorandum does not require either witnesses or a notary. Additionally, if you change your mind as to whom should receive a certain asset, you can simply create a new Separate Memorandum rather than have to go through the formalities of executing a new Will.
Hull & Chandler attorneys will analyze whether it is appropriate to use a trust as a part of your overall estate plan. A trust holds assets for certain beneficiaries and/or certain purposes for a selected amount of time. The trust is managed by someone you name to serve as Trustee.
We will determine whether a Revocable Living Trust (“RLT”) is appropriate for your situation. As the name implies, an RLT can be amended or revoked at any time while you are alive and have capacity. We will advise you on when it is appropriate to “fund” your trust through the transfer of assets during life or pursuant to the terms of your Will and designated beneficiary agreements upon your death. One of the many benefits to an RLT is that you can avoid your estate going through the probate process with the Court, if the RLT is properly funded during your lifetime. We will discuss how your RLT becomes irrevocable upon your death, which provides asset protection for your beneficiaries.
Another alternative that we will discuss is an Irrevocable Trust. As the name implies, this type of trust is irrevocable, meaning that it cannot be revoked or otherwise terminated. Altus Law Group will advise you on what assets are appropriate to transfer into an irrevocable trust for appropriate asset protection, Medicaid planning or legacy planning, etc.
There are many reasons to create a trust, unique to each client. One common example is the creation of a trust for minor children. In Colorado an individual cannot inherit money until age 21. Therefore, we commonly create a contingent trust stating that distributions to children under age 21 are to remain in trust and used for the children’s benefit.
Another common example is a legacy trust where you can leave an inheritance to someone. The funds are for the benefit of beneficiary, but until they are consumed by the beneficiary, they are safe in the trust from creditors, predators, bankruptcy and divorce. This is a great tool to ensure that your beneficiaries obtain the benefit of the inheritance, not someone else.
We will also analyze whether it is appropriate to draft a Special Needs Trust for a beneficiary who receives disability benefits. We want to ensure that the beneficiary does not get disqualified from their governmental benefits due to an inheritance.
General Durable Power of Attorney
We will draft your General Durable Power of Attorney where you (known as the “Principal”) nominate an individual (known as your “Agent”) to handle your financial affairs should you become incapacitated. Altus Law Group will analyze whether your General Durable Power of Attorney should be drafted to include all of your financial affairs or be limited to certain affairs and/or a certain time period. A General Durable Power of Attorney expires immediately upon the Principal’s death.
Medical Power of Attorney
Hull & Chandler attorneys will draft your Medical Durable Power of Attorney wherein you will nominate an individual (known as your “Agent”) to handle your medical affairs should you become incapacitated. Altus Law Group will ensure compliance with current HIPAA laws and coordination with your Advanced Medical Directive (also known as a Living Will). While making these types of decisions can certainly be daunting, it is important, and Altus Law Group will ensure it is done properly.
Advanced Medical Directive (Living Will)
Hull & Chandler attorneys can help you create an Advanced Medical Directive, which allows you to establish a length of time you would like to receive life support and/or artificial nourishment should you suffer an injury or illness requiring these medical services. This is an essential document that conveys your wishes to medical professionals. We are careful to align this with your wishes in your Medical Power of Attorney. This is different from a Do Not Resuscitate. This powerful document allows you and your family to have the peace of mind that your wishes will be complied with even when you cannot voice them.
Disposition of Last Remains
Your Disposition of Last Remains allows you to establish whether you would like to be buried or cremated. You can specify a type of ceremony, flowers, music, etc. Even if you do not have strong thoughts on this, it is helpful to the family when they are simply following your wishes instead of deciding on their own.
Hull & Chandler attorneys will analyze any business ownership you may have and update your business documents, if necessary. Our experience allows us to ensure that your business documents and estate planning documents are properly synchronized to achieve your goals. At Hull & Chandler, we take a consultative and leadership role to ensure the proper organization of your business affairs.
Hull & Chandler attorneys will analyze whether a Premarital Agreement would benefit your overall estate plan. Hull & Chandler attorneys will advise on how the Premarital Agreement establishes duties and property rights of married couples during the marriage as well as at death or upon divorce. This is becoming a popular vehicle for persons entering a marriage with children from another relationship due to Colorado’s definition of “marital property”. It is important that you consult an attorney with knowledge of estate planning laws and family laws to ensure this is properly drafted. We have extensive experience in both and will help you ensure you are properly protected.
Hull & Chandler attorneys will determine if a Cohabitation Agreement to establish the duties and property rights of cohabiting couples would benefit the estate plan. We draft agreements to establish how assets are held during the relationship and upon death or dissolution of the relationship. Given Colorado’s lenient laws on common law marriage, this document will properly define the relationship.
Once a trust is created and funded, it must be administered by the trustee. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to both the creator(s) of the trust and the beneficiaries.
We provide comprehensive representation to trustees in their fiduciary capacity to ensure that they comply with statutory requirements including all court documents and reporting. The statutory requirements are rather extensive and the repercussions for improper administration, whether intentional or not, can be unfortunate. Hull & Chandler attorneys can assist with general administration of a trust from start to finish.
We also provide competent legal advice to beneficiaries regarding their rights and interests in the trust. Our goal is to help any party reach their goals in the most efficient and effective matter.
Estate Administration - Probate
Hull & Chandler attorneys can assist you with all court proceedings and administering the disposition of a decedent’s probate estate. With proper representation, probate can be a relatively painless process. We assist both with formal and informal probate. Colorado Law allows most probate estates to be administered informally. This is a quicker and generally more cost-efficient administration than formal probate. Probate can be testate (when the deceased left behind a Will), or intestate (when the deceased did not leave behind a Will).
If the decedent created a trust during his or her lifetime, we can also assist with the trust administration. Our experience enables us to smoothly assist you with the entire process in an efficient and effective manner. Our goal is to ensure that the personal representative (executor) of your estate and trustee of your trust (if applicable) are fully compliant with all their fiduciary duties.
We can help the personal representative (executor) through the entire probate process. Sometimes the death of a loved one can bring out some conflicting behavior with beneficiaries and other interested parties. Having a competent attorney to be ready to handle those situations when they occur is the key to avoiding a lengthy and costly probate process.
Hull & Chandler attorneys have an experienced team dedicated to probate and estate administration.
Court proceedings to establish a Guardianship and/or Conservatorship over an individual involves detailed precision. Whether you are seeking a guardianship over an adult who lacks capacity, or a minor who simply needs a guardian, we can assist.
Similarly, we have vast experience in assisting with conservatorships over an adult who can no longer effectively manage their financial affairs, or a minor who is simply too young to make their own decisions. Hull & Chandler attorneys can assist you with the petitioning process to become appointed as a guardian and/or conservator, as well as the on-going reporting requirements once appointed. Colorado courts insist on prompt accuracy in these proceedings and you can be personally liable for mistakes. Finding competent legal counsel to guide you through this process is essential.
Hull & Chandler attorneys can assist you with organizing your assets to make them less vulnerable to creditors, predators, bankruptcies and divorces. We provide advice on protecting all types of assets (e.g., cash, stocks, bonds, business interests, and real property). We can recommend the transfer of what might be otherwise non-protected assets into a more protected form. It is important to conduct such transfers prior to the existence of a potential creditor claim. Attempting to protect assets while a creditor claim is either pending, threatened or expected could expose you (and your attorney) to either civil and/or criminal liability. Proper asset protection can assist in deterring potential creditors from initiating litigation. All parties involved should utilize competent legal counsel for these decisions.
Typical Forms of Asset Protection
- Retitling of certain individually owned assets into Joint Ownership or Tenants in Common. Depending on the situation, one may have an advantage over the other with respect to certain assets.
- Gifting. Transferring title to someone else’s name. Obviously, due to potential pitfalls involved with gifting, such transfers must first be extensively analyzed with competent counsel.
- Converting non-exempt property to exempt property. Altus Law Group can help you utilize various exemptions, such as the homestead or life insurance exemption to help ensure these types of assets are protected to the fullest extent pursuant to Colorado law.
- Insurance. Ensuring proper insurance policies with appropriate coverage and limits goes a long way in helping to lessen the stress involved with litigation.
- Legal entities. Utilizing legal entities (e.g., a limited partnership or a limited liability company) can be used to diversify and help protect your assets. In this scenario, assets that would otherwise be attractive to a judgment creditor are rendered unattractive or at least less attractive as the individual no longer directly owns the subject assets. A creditor must seek to satisfy his or her claim or judgment from the partnership or member interest received in the exchange of assets.
- Domestic Asset Protection Trusts (DAPT). Altus Law Group can assist in drafting and funding a DAPT subject to the laws of the State of Nevada (which arguably has the strongest level of protection of the 17 states that currently have such a statute). We will advise how you can (i) create the trust; (ii) fund the trust with a certain level of your individually held assets; and (iii) remain the beneficiary of the trust while protecting your assets from future potential creditors once the applicable statute of limitations period has expired. We often combine a DAPT with an underlying limited partnership or limited liability company, which can hold certain types of assets and offer an additional level of asset protection. Please feel free to contact us in order to learn more about this highly effective asset protection tool.
Business Succession Planning:
Continuing a business beyond one generation of leaders requires careful planning. Hull & Chandler attorneys will assist you in planning for the transferring of private shares, transferring leadership or winding up the business. We will help you clearly outline who will own and operate the company once the owner no longer serves in a daily capacity to ensure a minimal impact on long-term business profitability. Although business succession planning is a challenge, if properly developed and implemented, an owner will be rewarded with watching the business grow and succeed well into the future. As all business succession plans will have various legal and tax-related consequences, involving a trusted advisor such as an attorney is a prerequisite to ensure that all applicable considerations are properly addressed. Hull & Chandler attorneys can assist you with your business succession planning and ensure it is working in conjunction with your estate plan.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning is planning for life and death. First, you establish your current relationships and financial situation. Second, you establish a plan, allowing you to be in control of important decisions in your life, such as who will care for your medical needs and financial needs should you become unable to care for them on your own; how long you’d like to be on life support; who will raise your children if you cannot; who will manage all of these important decisions when you die and where you want your assets to go and how you want them to be utilized before and after death.
What is probate?
A court procedure that moves assets from the deceased’s ownership to the beneficiary’s ownership.
Do I need to open probate for my deceased loved one?
Colorado law does not require probate to be opened for every death. Even those that do require probate can typically be handled informally, which enables the process to flow quicker and avoids court appearances. Call for a consultation to determine if a Probate needs to be open.
How long does probate take?
Most probates can be completed in approximately six months. Formal probates take longer because there are hearings involved. The length of time depends on whether parts of the probate are contested and how quickly the personal representative performs his/her duty.
Should I gift some of my assets to my loved ones prior to my death in order to avoid probate?
This depends. If you require long-term care at an assistance facility, you can disqualify yourself from Medicaid by making a gift within five years of applying for Medicaid. If you have to enter the facility as private pay, the cost is between 5,000 and 10,000 a month. Also, you could subject your estate to paying gift taxes on these gifts made. Call for a consultation to discuss options.
What is a conservatorship?
A conservator is court-ordered to make financial decisions on behalf of someone who does not have the capacity to make these decisions on his or her own. A conservator generally handles all the finances for the incapacitated person. This includes paying their bills, collecting their income, managing their accounts, investing their funds and reporting accurate accounting to the court.
What is a guardianship?
A Guardian is court-ordered to make medical, health and well-being decisions on behalf of someone who does not have the capacity to make these decisions on his or her own. This can be limited to a specific need or made very broad to cover every aspect of the incapacitated person’s wellbeing. This can include, making doctor’s appointments, requesting prescriptions, hiring in-home health services, nursing home care and making urgent medical decisions.