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Things to Know Before Your First Estate Planning Meeting: “Who is in charge and when?”

Whether you have an abundance of assets, or very few, making a plan for what happens to them after your death could make things a little easier for the loved ones you leave behind. The best way to ensure that your assets are disposed of pursuant to your wishes is to hire a Denver estate planning attorney to draft a comprehensive estate plan. However, you should know a few simple things before you go into your estate planning meeting. This month, we will address three questions to which you should know the answer.

Today we ask: “Who is in charge and when?”

When drafting your estate plan, there are several fiduciary roles at play. Those are:

  1. Personal Representative—This person is nominated in your will, but must be appointed by the court in a probate proceeding after your death in order to have any actual authority. The personal representative is only authorized to administer probate assets.
  2. Trustee—In revocable trusts, the trustee’s authority to administer the trust is effective upon creation of the revocable trust. The authority of the successor trustee is effective as directed by the terms of the revocable trust, typically after your death or incapacity. The successor trustee only administers the assets of the trust. You can contribute assets to the revocable trust during your lifetime, or they can be “poured over” from your probate estate after your death.
  3. Agent under General Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney—The agent manages the financial affairs and assets titled in your name during your lifetime, then it ceases at your death. A power of attorney can be effective immediately or upon your incapacity (springing power of attorney).
  4. Agent under Medical Power of Attorney—The agent makes all the healthcare decisions on your behalf but only if you become incapacitated. A comprehensive estate plan will usually not only have medical power of attorney, but also a living will. Your living will governs the administration of life sustaining procedures and artificial nutrition/hydration at end of life. The medical power of attorney only has power to override your wishes if they are given express permission in the living will.

If you are not sure how or who you want to administer your assets at the end of your life, the legal team at The Brown Law Firm, LLC can help you navigate these hard questions for your unique situation. Call today to arrange an appointment: (303) 339-3750 or visit our website.