An estate plan isn’t just for parents. If you’re over the age of 18 you’ll still need one. Family and friends will need to make decisions for you if you’re in the hospital and can’t communicate. They will want to know what to do with your stuff in case you die. Here’s a list of some basic documents you’ll need for your estate plan, regardless if you have children or not.
A well drafted estate plan always includes what happens if you become incapacitated. Incapacity in a legal sense means you can’t communicate or you can’t understand. In case you do become incapacitated the documents which will help you are financial and health care powers of attorney, and a living will. These documents allow someone you designate, called an agent, to make legal and medical decisions for you, in the event you can’t make them for yourself.
Some of my estate planning clients express surprise to discover that even a spouse can’t make certain decisions for you without these documents. Moreover, if you’re incapacitated without powers of attorney, your closest relatives will become involved in a court proceeding known as a guardianship & conservatorship. These proceedings are costly and time consuming. Planning ahead by drafting and signing powers of attorney and a living will relieves friends and family of stress, anxiety, time and money.
When you die, your estate will go through a process known as probate. Probate is the process which clears title to your assets, notifies and pay creditors, and distributes the remaining estate to your heirs.
Without a will your estate will be distributed according to Colorado statute. This is called intestacy. Under intestacy, your assets go to your spouse (if you are married), but only if your parents have predeceased you. If your parents are still alive a portion of your estate may go to them. Then your estate, will pass
to your siblings (and half-siblings), then to grandparents, then to aunts and uncles.
The state of Colorado’s scheme for devising an estate without a will is complex. If you have a friend, partner, favorite niece, or nephew who you would like to give a portion of your estate to, the chances of them seeing it without a will are slim to none.
Additionally, the courts will decide who will get to settle your estate. If your parents are elderly they may not be up to the task. A properly drafted will tells the court who you want to be executor of your estate.
Personal Property Memorandum
A personal property memorandum will transfer your pets, household goods, collections, instruments, sporting goods, and other items, to your loved ones, family, and friends. The memorandum is filed with the court along with your will. Your executor must abide by your wishes.
Burial and Funeral Instructions
Family and friends are going to want to know to do with your remains once you pass away. Burial and funeral instructions will let them know your wishes. If you die expectantly, one of the last things you’re family will want is to guess what your last wishes would be.
Letter of Last Instructions
A letter of last instructions is information your executor needs to help inform others of your passing as well as close your accounts. Some things to include vehicle information, insurance agents, account numbers, social media usernames and passwords, the name of your veterinarian, social security number, subscriptions, and other similar information.
All in all, if you don’t have children, you’ll need the above documets in your estate plan. If you own real property, or have a business you may consider a beneficiary deed, an LLC, or a trust. The main thing however, is just to have a plan in place.
This article is for educational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice about your case or situation. There may be exceptions to the information outlined above. Please consult an attorney if you have specific questions about your estate plan.Follow me on social media: