19671 East Euclid Drive
Centennial, Colorado 80016
Phone: 303-690-7092
Fax 303-690-0757

3333 S. Bannock St., Suite 900
Englewood, CO 80110
Phone: 303-761-4900
Fax: 303-488-9889






Estate Planning

Estate Planning is the process of analyzing a client's assets, and the client's desires for how those assets should be used during their lifetime and after their death. Once resources and goals have been determined, an Attorney drafts the necessary documents to accomplish those goals.

Click here to determine what happens at the initial consultation and what you need to bring.

Estate Planning Documents

and can also include:

Estate Planning Process

ANALYSIS PROCESS:

After an initial 15 minute free phone consultation, the client schedules a face-to-face meeting where they provide Ms. Heller with a full list of their assets and supporting documents, including any beneficiary designations that have been made on certain assets (see What to bring to the initial Consultation). It is important for Ms. Heller to know if the client has any assets that need special consideration for Estate/Gift/Income Tax purposes or because the client wants certain assets to go to certain people. All beneficiary designations need to be coordinated with the Estate Planning documents.

Next, the client tells the Attorney what they want to accomplish with their Estate Plan. Ms. Heller will provide the client with some questions to be discussed to help determine their Estate Planning goals.

After Ms. Heller has a full understanding of the assets and wishes of the client, she will recommend to the client what documents they should have in order to accomplish their goals. This will include recommendations for any changes to beneficiary designations. Ms. Heller will also provide an explanation of the costs for drafting these documents.

  • This process takes between one and two hours, depending on the complexity of the client's situation, how well organized the asset information provided by the client is, and how many questions the client has.


  • Ms. Heller charges her hourly fee for this initial consultation and analysis. As of January 2017, Ms. Heller's hourly rate is $300.00 per hour. This rate can change from time to time.


  • The client is then free to think about Ms. Heller's suggestions before committing to retaining her to do the actual drafting of documents.

DOCUMENT DRAFTING PROCESS

If the client does decide to retain Ms. Heller to draft the suggested documents for a full estate plan within thirty (30) days of the initial consultation, Ms. Heller will deduct the consultation fee off of the quoted fee for preparation of the documents. Ms. Heller does request a payment of one-half of the quoted document fee before beginning work on the documents. Payment of the remaining balance of the quoted fee is due when the documents are ready for the client. Any deduction of consultation fee will be made at the time final payment is due.

Trusts

There are various types of Trusts that are used in Estate Planning (see Frequently Asked Questions)

A Trust needs to be administered according to its terms.

The Trustee needs to keep accurate records of all investments made by the Trust, all receipts and all disbursements made, and give the beneficiary an Accounting of such activity on an annual basis.

The Trustee is also responsible for filing Income Tax Returns for the Trust, both Federal and State, and paying any such taxes due.

The Trustee usually has the final authority to determine how much money is distributed to the beneficiary and at what times, in accordance with the terms of the Trust document.

The administrative duties of a Trustee are the same as those of a Personal Representative of a Probate Estate. The only difference is that the Court does not need to certify the appointment of a Trustee under a Trust, as it must with the Personal Representative of an Estate.

If the Trust is a Revocable Living Trust, and the Settlor is the beneficiary and Trustee, he/she does not need to make any accounting of his/her actions as Trustee. However, if for any reason the Settlor ceases to act as Trustee, then the Successor Trustee must account to the Beneficiaries of the Trust as stated above.

Pets Trusts:
Making Provisions for the Care of Your Animals
After Your Death or Incapacitation

Colorado has one of the best statutes in the entire country allowing for Pets Trusts. This statute was made law in Colorado in 1994, as part of the revisions to the Colorado Probate Code.

Ms. Heller drafted this legislation, and is considered one of the leading authorities on the use of Trusts to care for pets.

Trust Provisions:

A "Pets Trust" can be included in your Will or Revocable Living Trust, to take effect upon your death. You can also set up a Charitable Remainder Trust if you are making a charity the remainder beneficiary. A Trust for animals should specify the following provisions:

  • a description of the animal or animals to be cared for;
  • who is to be the Caregiver; and the Successor Caregiver;
  • who is to be the Trustee; and the Successor Trustee;
  • what types of things can be paid for by the Trust: medical care, food and shelter, grooming, training, travel with the caregiver, etc; you can be very specific or you can leave it up to the Trustee;
  • whether both income and principal can be used for the care of the animal(s); or just income, leaving the principal for the remainder beneficiaries; what about capital gains;
  • when will the trust end: after a specific period of years, or after the animal(s) dies;
  • who is to receive the remaining funds of the trust after the trust ends = the remainder beneficiary;
  • who is to receive the trust funds if the trust fails, a contingent beneficiary.

Tell your Attorney what you want

If you want to provide for your animals, it is important to tell your attorney, so that he or she can explore the appropriate avenues with you. If he or she is unfamiliar with the options mentioned here, suggest that they give us a call. We are happy to help, because it is really the pets that we are helping.