Learn more about wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, etc. The list goes on and on. What is right for you? What do you need? How much is a reasonable amount to pay? Find out here!

Part 2 of our second Fireside Chat! Cristyn and Jeff talk more about the first year of law school and what to expect.

Proud to release our second Fireside Chat! Last time was about how to get into law school. This time, Cristyn and Jeff talk about what you should expect for your first year! Here’s part 1, but stay tuned for part 2!

Will mistakes

Will mistakes
Don’t make these mistakes!

There are tons of mistakes to makes and many potholes to avoid when attempting to create a solid estate plan in Colorado. We are going to go over the top 7 that we see in our Northglenn-based practice.

Have questions on any of these? Give us a call at 720-547-2319 in Northglenn or  719-249-2785 in Colorado Springs. Our lawyers aim to help!

Avoid These Critical Mistakes When Drafting A Will

Here’s a list of the most common mistakes people make when creating an estate plan:

  1. Only having a will: A lot of individuals think that simply having a will that says where they want things to go will prevent court and stop probate. This is not true! If all you have is a will, there is a very high chance you will send your family to court, costing them thousands of dollars in legal fees even if they are not fighting about anything. Avoiding probate requires sophisticated planning that a simple will cannot provide on its own.
  2. Naming multiple people to be in charge: This is a very common mistake. Many people will name all of their children to be Personal Representative (also known as Executor) at the same time. This is a costly mistake that can lead to more fights down the road. If you have more than one person in charge, there is a much higher probability they will disagree on things. This leads to court and a longer, drawn out probate process as well.
  3. Failing to name backups. As an opposite to the previous mistake, many people will simply add one person as their power of attorney, personal representative, or other “power person.” This means that if that person passes away or can’t serve as your power person because they are incapacitated or out of town, you have no one to act. Then a judge has to come in, and we are in an expensive court hearing. Naming backup “power people” solves this problem.
  4. Doing your plan online: While we are biased because we are lawyers who draft wills, doing a plan online is a very bad idea. These plans can’t be witnessed or notarized for you, so when you receive them in the mail or print them off, they are not legally binding documents. Further, you don’t get to speak with an attorney who specializes in estate planning, you don’t really know if the plan will work until it is too late, and you don’t get the peace of mind you deserve when you do things online.
  5. Transferring property yourself: Don’t draft quitclaim or special warranty deeds by yourself! Your house cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s worth a few hundred dollars to have an attorney draft a proper deed to protect that value. We have seen so many people lose title to their home because they drafted a deed incorrectly. It then costs thousands of dollars to fix the problem. Do it right the first time and give an estate planning attorney a call.
  6. Creating irrevocable trusts: While irrevocable trusts have their place in certain plans, they are very dangerous documents. They should never, never, ever be done without consulting with a lawyer, and most times still not completed after that.
  7. Not talking with your family: This one is critical. Do not keep your plan a secret. It’s that simple. Have the uncomfortable meeting with your family, we promise it’s not as bad as you think it is, plus its an excuse to get everyone together. The more people who know what is supposed to happen when you pass, the harder it is to fight about. Surprises create fights, period.

Want To Learn More About The Many Other Mistakes That Can Be Made When Creating A Plan?

Contact our estate planning attorneys today. We serve Colorado Springs and Northglenn/Thornton.

End-of-Life Doulas and Death Doulas in Colorado

The following information was graciously provided by Tawnya, an End-of-Life Doula at Dear Departures.

What is an End-of-Life Doula (EOLD)? EOLDs provide non-medical support to the dying and their circle, working alongside hospice (not in lieu of it.) Services may include but are not limited to: caregiving, respite, legacy projects, life review, care planning, vigil planning, sitting vigil, and bereavement support.

What is a Home Funeral Guide (HFG)? Most people don’t know that it is legal in all fifty states to have a viewing/wake in the privacy and comfort of their own home. Home Funeral Guides teach families how to care for their dead, within their comfort level, rather than outsourcing that care to a funeral establishment. The benefits of home funerals include: privacy, intimacy, familiarity, cost-savings, and an abundance of time, as well as the ability to be hands-on, which can be therapeutic for the bereaved. Home funerals are, at their core, a reclamation of families’ rights.

What is a Life-Cycle Celebrant? Life-Cycle Celebrants are specially trained to craft and officiate custom ceremonies for events like weddings, baby blessings, and in the case of Dear Departures’ specialty, funerals/memorials/celebrations-of-life. One of our favorite offerings, known as living funerals or “exit-parties” are events where the dying person is the still-living guest of honor at their very own send-off! We also offer pet-death ceremonies. Great time and care are taken during our process to gather stories that are then woven into a personalized ceremony, to create an event true to who the honoree is, or was, in life!

Services an End-of-Life Doula Can Provide

There are many exceptionally helpful things a Doula can do for you and your family, including:

  • End-of life care, planning, and legacy projects as an added layer to hospice.
  • Support families who choose not to hire the services of a funeral home, by opting for a family-directed home funeral (wake/viewing.)
  • Craft custom ceremony for funerals/memorials/celebrations-of-life whether a family is using a funeral home, or not.
  • Offer educational events on topics of death and dying, within the community.

If you have questions for Tawnya, reach out to her at tawnya@deardepartures.com or call her at 719-430-5272!

New Laws in Colorado

New Laws in Colorado Due to COVID-19

New Laws in Colorado
Our lawyers scour the new laws to get you the info you need! Call Althaus Law today. 720-340-2783

COVID-19 has made the world an uncertain place, to say the least. It even has our lawmakers changing procedures and statutes that have been on the books for decades. At Althaus Law, we want to keep you up to speed on the latest changes, so you can make informed decisions when it comes to protecting your family and creating your will, trust, or other estate planning documents.

You can always contact our sophisticated lawyers if you have any planning questions during the pandemic around items like:

  • How do I draft a will?
  • Should I do my plan online?
  • What’s the difference between a will and a trust?
  • Do I need powers of attorney?
  • Who makes decisions for me if I’m on a ventilator?

New Rule 91 and 92 in Colorado

Alright, this part is going to get technical, but I promise to summarize for you. Don’t fall asleep!

Rule 91 and Rule 92 under the Colorado Rules for Probate Procedure are now updated to allow remote witnessing of specific documents and remote attestation of wills. There are very specific rules that must be followed, however. It is not as simple as getting on a Zoom call or a Google Meet and signing while people on the same video conference watch. Some of these requirements include:

  • There must still be ONE original will or estate planning document. This means it has to be mailed around to people.
  • These rules are not permanent, so this will not be allowed in times where social distancing is not required.
  • Remote witnessing of documents requires an attorney to be involved.
  • If these wills are completed properly, they still cannot be submitted for an informal probate when the person making the will passes away. The process must be formal.

So What Does All This Mean?

To summarize things simply, Colorado is now allowing “remote notarization” and “remote witnessing” of certain documents. However, the rules are very specific and hard to complete successfully. These rules also require that an attorney be involved, so the do-it-yourself option is off the table.

Even if individuals do complete the process remotely, it is still recommended to complete the plan in person when things calm down since the old laws will go back into play eventually.

When in doubt, give us a call at 720-340-2783! We can setup a free initial consultation to go over your concerns and make sure you get the understanding you need.

Stay healthy out there.

What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

A Medical or Health Care Power of Attorney is a document which allows you, while you have capacity, to designate who you would like to make your medical decisions for you in the event you can no longer make them for yourself.

Why Do I Need One?

Medical Powers of Attorney are critical- if you should need it, and don’t have it, your loved ones may be dragged into a Guardianship hearing to get someone appointed to make these decisions for you. Some may think they can rely on the Colorado Medical Proxy Statute to protect themselves. This is fine and dandy if you are married and your spouse has the ability to make these decisions, or you aren’t married, but you only have one child and you trust that child to make these decisions for you.

However, should you not fit that cookie cutter mold, you are setting the stage for fighting amongst your loved ones over which course of treatment to take or not take and leaving yourself vulnerable to an emergency Guardianship hearing to get someone appointed.

An Ounce of Prevention…

There’s a steep price tag to these hearings and appointments: thousands of dollars. Simply put, Medical Powers of Attorney are a far better alternative to a Guardianship appointment – don’t leave it to chance.


Don’t leave it to chance.

Make an appointment at our Northglenn or Colorado Springs location!

Common mistakes in a deed

Three common mistakes when you don’t use an attorney to draft your deed

We see it all the time, an improperly drafted deed which has disastrous results. A widow needs multiple probates in different states after her husband passes to get title properly in her own name. Expensive and timely correction deeds are required because we must dig back to the original deed to find the true legal description. Extra steps and re-execution of deeds because two people appeared on the original deed, and then only one of them transferred the property to the new property.

The short of it? It’s expensive. And time consuming. And it could have been easily avoided.

You do need an attorney experienced in title and drafting of deeds to help you.

Let’s start with how you can own property with more than one person. Joint tenancy: my husband and I own our home as joint tenants, if I pass away, my husband simply files my death certificate with our county clerk and recorders office and the home is now 100% his. Tenants in common: my husband and I own our home as tenants in common, if I pass away, my husband must open a probate. He must wait a minimum of six months (the minimum duration of a probate in Colorado), pay a lot of money to the court and likely to a probate attorney, and then he can own the property 100%.

Usually it is an error, an accident, a mistake, when a property is owned as tenants-in-common as opposed to joint tenants. More bad news, the default is tenants in common if it isn’t clear on the deed.

Next up, incorrect or incomplete legal descriptions. In title, the legal description is what matters, not necessarily the street address. Messing up the legal description can result in the property not being transferred. Letter for letter, comma for comma, word for word, the legal needs to match. I have had to look back several deeds to find the actual proper legal description which is time consuming and then do correction deeds before we can even do the transfer which is costly.

Other issues that pop up: cut and paste language, missing owners on a subsequent transfer, misspelling of grantor and grantee names, missing or wrong county information, and missing dates. These errors usually result in correction deeds, pulling deeds farther back in time, and an attorney coming in to fix it all. The end result? Extra cost to you.

Don’t make these mistakes. Call our Northglenn law firm instead!

If you need help with your plan, or just have questions about a deed, give our lawyers a call. You can also contact us online.

Will Myths

Can You Hand Write A Will in Colorado?

This week we are addressing common myths in estate planning. To kick things off, we are starting with the most common one we hear all the time: that hand writing a will works just as well as having one drafted for you. The short answer to whether or not you can draft your own will is yes. However, that will is not very strong and there is little guarantee that it will hold up in court if anyone decides to contest it.

Why Isn’t A Handwritten Will Worth Much?

When an attorney prepares a will for you, the hope is that they have experience dealing with what happens when that will needs to actually be used. This means they know what terms to add in to the document that will prevent litigation and will contests. Further, an attorney knows what is required under the law to have a valid last will and testament in Colorado that will hold up in court. Some of these requirements include:

  • Having two witnesses to attest to you have capacity to sign your will
  • Having a notary witness your signature (basically confirming that you are who you say you are)
  • Having you swear that you understand the documents, are over 18 and that you are not signing under anybody else’s influence

A handwritten will just doesn’t usually have these things. Without these requirements, there is no guarantee that you were even the one to write the will in the first place. Handwritten wills (also called holographic wills in Colorado) are much harder to uphold in the court system if anyone tries to contest them, even if all of the above requirements are met. In the long run, you have a lawyer draft your documents for you because you want peace of mind that they will work. You can not guarantee that with a handwritten document. You can learn more about what actually goes into a full estate plan here.

So Let’s Wrap It Up

So can you draft your own will on a cocktail napkin? Yes. Should you? Absolutely not. Odds are if you care enough to write something down, then it’s important enough to you and your family to make sure it goes where you want it to correctly. The only way to best ensure that happens is to get a proper estate plan from a lawyer. As I’ve said in many posts before, most attorneys will at least offer a free consultation where you can learn a little bit more about your options.