Frequently Asked Questions

Althaus Law was founded to protect our clients’ interests through estate planning. A very important part of this goal is to ensure that each individual fully understands all of his or her options and has all of his or her questions answered. Some of the most common questions we receive are answered below.

In a free consultation, we’ll be happy to answer questions about wills, trusts, and other estate planning and probate issues! Call (720) 547-2319 to schedule your consult.

Answers To Your Specific Questions

Estate planning involves creating a plan for loved ones on how to distribute property when you pass away. It can also be used to create guardianships for children, obtain tax advantages by avoiding gift and estate tax, and allow you to assign powers of attorney over your finances/healthcare should you become incapacitated.

If you do not have an estate plan, your property will pass according to Colorado intestacy laws. These laws will apply even if you had verbal agreements with individuals regarding the distribution of your property, making it critical to have a lawyer draft your documents so you can be confident they will hold up in court.

No. Certain things will transfer to your spouse automatically, such as jointly owned property, but there may be financial and healthcare decisions that your spouse will not be able to make without a proper power of attorney.

Every estate plan is different, so determining the length of time is unique for each client. For a basic estate plan, the process should take less than one month to complete. For more complicated plans, the process can be much longer.

It is always a good idea to review your plan annually so your attorney can accommodate for any changes in property or new additions to your family. As a client, an annual meeting with Althaus Law to assess your plan is free of charge.

Probate is the court process of transferring the title of assets to the correct beneficiaries after death. This process is public, can be costly and also very time consuming. Avoiding probate allows your heirs to avoid court costs and attorney fees. It also allows them to receive assets sooner and keep the process private.

Althaus law provides clients with upfront and easy-to-understand flat fees for most estate planning services. For complicated estates, an hourly rate is charged that will be discussed with you prior to your representation beginning so you are not in the dark.

An annual review meeting with your attorney at Althaus Law is free of charge. If any action is required following one of these meetings, that service will be charged at a flat fee or hourly rate depending on the exact service needed.

The major difference in a will and a trust is that wills go into action once you die. Trusts, on the other hand, can start working for you immediately while you are still alive and can avoid probate court. Pretty nifty, huh?

So why ever use a will? The short and sweet answer is that they are cheaper and not everyone needs the flexibility of a trust.

Trusts are used to avoid paying estate taxes in some situations. But more often, trusts are used to control how money will be distributed out to minor children or children with drug and/or alcohol abuse problems.

If you do not have minor children, a will may be all you need. Don’t let someone else sell you on more than can actually benefit you. Speak to an attorney at Althaus Law for straightforward and honest advice regarding your estate planning needs.

A living will is an advanced medical directive that allows you to say how long you would like to be kept on life support in an end-of-life situation. This document is morbidly referred to as the “pull-the-plug” document and applies under very strict circumstances. Basically, two doctors have to say that:

  • You have a terminal condition or are in a persistent vegetative state
  • That condition is permanent
  • Life support or other life-sustaining procedures are the only thing keeping you alive
  • You cannot communicate or understand any information given to you

Once all of the above factors have been met, then doctors will look to your living will for guidance on how you wish to be treated.

There are many complex estate planning terms and probate terms that are just downright confusing. Two of these terms are “guardian” and “conservator.”

A guardian can come into play in one of two ways:

  • Parents assign a person to care for children
  • A court assigns a person to care for children or an incapacitated adult

Parents can assign an individual in their will to care for their children should something happen to the parent. This is the simplest and cheapest form of guardianship. It can solve lots of problems down the road, so it is highly recommended as well. If no guardian has been pre-decided upon, a court will have to make that decision. This decision will be costly, time consuming and stressful for the entire family. Make life easier on your family and choose a guardian today.

A conservator is a court appointed individual that manages the finances of someone who is unable to do so for themselves (this person is called the ward or protected person). Having a conservator appointed is also expensive and very time-consuming. The time and expense can be avoided by drafted a proper power of attorney in advance of any incapacity.

We can answer many questions regarding your will, trust and other estate planning documents following a divorce, including:

  • Will my ex-spouse still inherit from me?
  • Where will my property go after I pass away?
  • Who will take care of my children if I pass, especially now that I am divorced?
  • What do I do with my retirement accounts and investments after a divorce?
  • Who will make medical and financial decisions for me if I am incapacitated?

Divorce raises many questions. Attorneys Jeff Althaus and our estate planning team can provide you with the answers. Make sure your plan is in order following your divorce, not only to protect you, but your children and the rest of your family as well.

The short and sweet answer to this one is no. Fortunately for the spouse, but unfortunately for the person attempting to disinherit them, there is a thing called the “elective share” in Colorado. This elective share means that a spouse can choose a portion of the estate if intentionally disinherited.

Colorado Law Says No. Is There Still a Way?

Under certain circumstances, you may successfully disinherit your spouse. Although, this pretty much comes down to whether or not the spouse is willing to accept the disinheritance. If everyone is amicable to the situation, then a properly drafted estate plan can, in fact, disinherit a spouse.

Should the spouse later decide that turning down money was a bad idea, he or she can simply change his or her mind, take the money and run.

There are ways to protect your loved ones and give more assets to individuals other than your spouse. These techniques require the assistance of a sophisticated estate planning attorney.

The short answer to “can I disinherit my child?” is yes. This process is much more complicated than it may seem, however. You must be very careful when intentionally leaving children out of a will, as the laws can be complex in this area.

Contact Althaus Law  to learn more about how you can accomplish your goals and pass your assets to those who you want to have them.

How Do I Disinherit My Child?

Simply not naming your child in your last will and testament will most likely not disinherit that child due to intestacy laws (laws of inheritance). If the child was born after your will was written, they will be entitled to a share of your estate. There are other situations where they may be able to take your assets as well.

Every situation is different, but it is recommended that you specifically state that you are disinheriting your child, without giving a reason. Stating why you are disinheriting leaves doors open for will contests later down the line. The correct language to use is fairly precise and a skilled estate planning attorney should be consulted to ensure your goals are achieved.

Whether one of your family goals is to have your parents remain in their home, or if your family has decided that obtaining care outside of the home is the best choice, our lawyers can help.

We work with individuals throughout the Denver and Colorado Springs communities who specialize in finding the absolute best living situation for our aging loved ones. There are many options to choose from, including:

  • At-home care – allowing parents to stay living in their home
  • Assisted living – providing a new home for your parents where they can have access to immediate help and other services if needed
  • Skilled nursing homes – offering more services and specialized care than a normal assisted living facility would offer
  • Memory-care units – advanced care for our loved ones who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease

No matter what options work for you, our attorneys will be by your side.

Make Sure Your Parents’ Plan Is Up To Date

While going through the process of finding the best arrangements for your parents, it is equally as critical to ensure that their planning documents are up to date. This includes reviewing everything, including their:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Medical and financial powers of attorney
  • Living wills
  • HIPAA releases
  • Property memos
  • Declaration for final arrangements

If their plan is out of date or not written in a way that meets your parents’ goals, it can make things very difficult for you, your family, and wind everyone up in court. Our lawyers can make the process smooth and avoid the probate process for everyone involved.

  1. Schedule Your Consultation:

    You will have a meeting with one of our honest lawyers to discuss your options for how to best put a will or full estate plan in place that meets your goals and protects your loved ones

  2. We Draft Your Plan:

    You can sit back and relax. Our attorneys will use the information gathered to create a plan using everything you discussed in your meeting together.

  3. Sign Your Documents:

    The final step is to make you official. We do this at a signing meeting. This meeting allows you to satisfy the requirements laid out by Colorado law to have a valid and enforceable will. That’s it!

Read More about our Estate Planning Process.

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Althaus Gives

Every year, a percentage of Althaus Law’s profits will go to nonprofit organizations! This year, we are donating to an excellent organization that enhances children’s lives through music education − Inside the Orchestra (ISO). Learn more about how our firm works with community!