Four Important Estate Planning Documents
Everyone should have at least four estate planning documents in their possession: a Will, a Living Will, a Medical Power of Attorney and a Durable Power of Attorney. You can contact a Colorado estate planning attorney if you do not have any of these documents. They are affordable and can save you a lot of expense in the future.
A will is a legal document that states who is to be the recipient of your assets after your death and who is designated as the executor of the will. If there are minor children involved, the will can also name an appointed guardian or guardians. Without a will, your spouse, children or other heirs could be left with less than what you would want. Even worse, your assets could end up with people you would not want to inherit them or your children could end up with a guardian you would not have chosen.
A durable power of attorney is a document allowing you to appoint a representative to perform certain actions for you if you become too ill, incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your own affairs. This individual could be a spouse, adult child or trusted friend. It is very important to get any kind of power of attorney document handled by a lawyer so that there is no question as to who can handle your affairs if you can’t.
A living will is a person’s written declaration and advance medical directive of what life-sustaining medical treatments to allow or refuse in the event such person becomes terminally ill or enters into a persistent vegetative state (i.e., coma). Many estate planning attorneys will include a living will in their estate planning document they prepare for you.
A medical power of attorney, also known as a durable healthcare power of attorney, gives a designated person the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to make them yourself. A person who has medical power of attorney is ideally the individual who can carry out what you have specified in your living will.
Estate Planning: Why Do You Need a Trust?
You don’t think you need a trust? That’s your prerogative. If you have a significant amount of assets, your family will have the privilege of fighting over your prized possessions when you die. If that’s not disturbing enough, there’s a good chance that people you liked the least will get the most of what you left. All because you didn’t think a trust was really that necessary.
A trust serves as a legal written document that specifies how your property and assets are to be distributed and administered–and to whom. You can create one of two types: a living trust and a testamentary trust.
Of course, the living trust is created while you are alive. It can be revocable or irrevocable, but making it revocable allows you more freedom to modify or make changes, add or take away assets or terminate the trust. You don’t have this flexibility with an irrevocable trust.
A living trust enables your assets to avoid probate. It can also expedite the distribution of assets to your beneficiaries because again, it avoids going through the tedious probate process. A living trust preserves the privacy of your estate plan because such a trust does not need to be filed with the court, like a will does. It’s also much cheaper to create a living trust than it is to administer a will through the court probate process. In addition, there is no need to establish a conservatorship with a living trust should you become incapacitated.
A testamentary trust is a legal written document that outlines provisions to be carried out after your death. It is either established through your living trust or will.
For more information about trusts or to set up an a trust in your will, contact a qualified Colorado estate planning attorney today.
Trusts for Special Needs Children
Special Needs Trusts, also known as Supplemental Needs Trusts (SNTs) are trusts that allow disabled persons to inherit assets that will meet their supplemental needs while preserving their eligibility for government benefits. This alleviates a lot of worries for parents of special-needs children who are usually concerned about what will happen to their child if they are no longer there to care for them.
Most special-needs children receive government benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. While these provide a modest income and medical coverage, there are asset limits that must not be exceeded in or remain eligible. A disabled person receiving SSI is limited to $2,000 or less in resources, or they may lose their SSI as well as their Medicaid.
To allow parents of special-needs children to ensure their children will be well taken care of, the government established rules pertaining to assets to held in trust for a SSI and Medicaid recipient, contingent upon meeting certain parameters. The trust must be designed to supplement, not replace, government benefits. The trust’s funds cannot be disbursed directly to the disabled child, but to a designated third party to buy goods and services for the disabled child’s use.
An SNT can be used for expenditures such as out-of-pocket medical/dental costs, eyeglasses, transporation, insurance, essential dietary needs, annual checkups, rehabilitation, personal care attendant, recreation or hobby materials, or other qualified expenditures. Your estate planning attorney can assist you in setting up an SNT for a special needs child.
Vehicle Sanctions: Another Weapon to Stop Drunk Driving
The most common penalty for drivers operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is license suspension. While this measure has been effective in reducing the number of alcohol-related accidents or deaths, accidents involving motorists who drive with suspended licenses remains a problem in the fight to stop drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.
Vehicle sanctions is a common measure taken to reduce the number of violations committed by drivers with suspended licenses. Sixty-one percent of 3rd time DUI offenders and 32% of suspended 2nd time DUI offenders received violations and citations while operating a vehicle with a suspended license, according to the DUI Foundation. Imposing vehicle sanctions prevent these drivers from operating their vehicles for a specified period of time or limit their use of their vehicles.
There are various ways a driver’s vehicle can be sanctioned. Many states enforce vehicle sanctions through confiscation or impoundment. Other methods of vehicle sanctions are license plate removal or impoundment, driver registration suspension or marking a driver’s license plate so that he is easily identified as being convicted of DUI. Installation of ignition interlock devices are another increasingly popular method of vehicle sanctions. Ignition interlocks are breathalyzer-type devices installed in a driver’s vehicle. The driver blows into the device before he starts his car. If a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is detected, the driver’s vehicle will not start. Another type of vehicle sanction enforced is allowing a driver to keep his car, but a court orders a club to be installed on the steering wheel to immobilize it, or one of the car’s wheel is locked with a boot.
Better to Submit to BAC Test and Let Your Attorney Handle the Rest
The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) in the state of Colorado is .08 or higher, and can result in a DUI conviction if proven. A Colorado DUI is punishable with a fine of $200 to $1,000, a 5-day to 1-year jail term and a mandatory 48- to 96-hour public service for a first offense. Convicted drivers also lose their driving privileges for 1 year.
Under Colorado’s Express Consent Law, a driver is required to submit to a chemical test if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the driver is driving under the influence or that their ability to drive is impaired due to drugs, alcohol or both. You can remain silent and refuse to answer any questions. You can even refuse to submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT) without penalty. However, refusal to submit to either a blood, urine or breathalyzer test at the police station or hospital could result in suspension or revocation of your Colorado driver’s license for one year.
In addition to losing your driving privileges, refusing to take a BAC test will make it hard for you to prove your innocence. Submitting to the test and enlisting a qualified Colorado DUI attorney will give you a better chance avoiding a DUI on your driving record. Your Colorado DUI attorney can review the results of the BAC or other tests for accuracy. Your attorney can also look for any mechanical errors that could have resulted in erroneous data or any evidence of failure to perform the tests according to the law, any of which could help you avoid a Colorado DUI conviction.
Juvenile Law: When Kids Decide They Arenâ€™t Kids
It seems that most kids want to grow up entirely too fast. They don’t realize they will be an adult for a long time and should enjoy being young while they can, and sometimes they do this by committing a crime. When a child steps outside the law, it is an emotional time for the parents and the child. It is important to have a juvenile criminal lawyer that understands that kids make mistakes.
It is important to get legal representation from a qualified juvenile law attorney the minute your child is in trouble. Hopefully this will be before they are picked up by a law enforcement officer. The charge may be something that is age associated like skipping school or being out after curfew. A qualified juvenile law attorney knows how to use a child’s school record to an advantage.
There are times when a child will commit a crime that is considered to be an adult crime. It can be hard for a parent to believe their child took drugs, robbed a store or committed a sex crime, but it happens. However, in juvenile law cases, there are special considerations that need to be addressed. You don’t want your child to end up doing time with full blown, adult criminals. Having someone that can work for you and your child is the best way to keep our child from having to be an adult before their time.
Kids do not always realize that what they are doing puts them and their freedom at great risk. They think they are invincible. They don’t realize just how vulnerable they are until it is too late. The sooner a juvenile criminal lawyer gets to work on your juvenile law case, the better things will turn out.
A Traffic Ticket Isnâ€™t Just Paying a Fine
It happens to almost everyone at some point in time: some type of traffic ticket. Unless you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, odds are the police officer will write up a traffic citation and send you on your way. That is not the end of it, though.
Your traffic ticket will tell you that you have the option of paying a fine or going to traffic court and explaining to the judge why you shouldn’t have to pay. Unless you have a very good reason, the judge is going to make you pay the fine. There are different circumstances that can lower or raise a fine. Having legal representation will help get the fine lowered.
It isn’t just the fine that you should be concerned about, though. Most traffic tickets will also result in points on your driving record, which will equate to higher insurance rates. Most points will stay on your record for a minimum of three years. That would mean three years of higher insurance premium payments. However, a lawyer can help you negotiate so that there are no points put on your license and save you a lot of money in the long run. For serious moving violations, there might also be harsher penalties like community service and license suspension, but an attorney can help you with those as well.
If you get a traffic ticket, don’t just toss it in your glove box and forget about it. Talk to an attorney and find out all your options before you just pay the fine.