Estate Planning & Probate

Estate Planning.  Skulborstad Legal Group, LLC represents clients throughout the Colorado Front Range in estate planning and probate administration.  We create comprehensive estate plans that accomplish the objectives of our clients, provide a plan for the possibility of future incapacity, and avoid the need for a lengthy and costly probate administration.

Every client’s situation and family dynamics is unique.  We tailor every client’s estate planning documents to fit their individual needs.  Our representation includes:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Medical Powers of Attorney
  • General Durable Powers of Attorney
  • Disposition of Remains
  • Memorandum of Personal Property
  • Do Not Resuscitate Orders
  • Trust Construction
  • Advance Planning for Incompacitation

Probate Administration.  After a loved one passes away, our probate administration attorneys can assist in the effective management and distribution of the deceased individual’s assets and/or payment of debts.  We can assist in instances where there is a will or when your loved one passed without a will. 


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Estate Planning & Probate Services

Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that sets forth your wishes as to who gets your property, who will be the guardian of your minor children, and who will manage your estate.  A will is limited to your “probate assets” and has no control over jointly held assets or those with a beneficiary designation. If you die without a will, those wishes may not be carried out. Further, your heirs may end up spending additional time, money, and emotional energy to settle your affairs after you're gone.

WHY should you have a will?

Some people think that only the very wealthy or those with complicated assets need wills. However, there are many good reasons to have a will.

  • You can be clear about who gets your assets. You can decide who gets what and how much.
  • You can keep your assets out of the hands of people you don't want to have them (like an estranged relative).
  • You can identify who should care for your children. Without a will, the courts will decide.
  • Your heirs will have a faster and easier time getting access to your assets.
  • You can plan to save your estate money on taxes. You can also give gifts and charitable donations, which can help offset the estate tax.


General Power of Attorney

Who will manage your financial matters if you become incapacitated, seriously ill, disabled, or injured and cannot handle them for yourself? Many people expect that a spouse or other family member automatically has the power to help; but this is not true. Under Colorado law, someone must be given special authority to act for another person. You accomplish this through a written document authorizing another person to act on your behalf. You must sign the document before you are incapacitated. Once you have lost the ability to understand and manage your own affairs, you can no longer authorize someone else to handle them for you.

power of attorney is the most commonly used document granting financial authority to another person. A power of attorney gives someone else, called an agent, the right to make financial decisions about the matters you specify in the document. Our office can help you go through different situations that may arise so you can best choose what powers to give your agent. You may sign a specific power of attorney at the bank to give an adult child the authority to make deposits and write checks on a specific bank account. You can use general power of attorney to authorize another person to handle a wide range of matters including banking, buying and selling property, and making investments on your behalf. The document itself states whether the powers it authorizes are specific or general. You can make the power of attorney temporary if, for example, you are going to be out of the country and want an agent to handle your affairs when you are gone.  You can also name temporary guardians for your children if you need to leave them with a third party that may need to make emergency decisions while you are away.

By giving your agent power of attorney, you are not giving up your right to make decisions for yourself.  In fact, for so long as you are of sound mind, you can end the agent’s authority by revoking the authority in writing. All powers of attorney end upon your death.

If you do not have a Financial Power of Attorney no one has default authority to handle financial matters on your behalf, including a spouse. Without a valid financial power of attorney in effect at time of need, a Court may need to appoint a Conservator over your assets. 

Living Will & Advance Medical Directives

Living wills and other advance directives are written, legal instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Advance directives guide choices for doctors and caregivers if you're terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life.  There are several types of advance directives:

  • Living Will
  • Medical power of attorney
  • POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment)
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders
  • Organ and tissue donation

These documents are separate from the will that determines the inheritance of your assets.  These focus on your preferences concerning medical treatment and care.  It may also outline your religious or philosophical beliefs and how you would like your life to end. 

An advance directive is a vital part of your estate plan.  They are not just for older adults.  Unexpected end-of-life situations can happen at any age, so it's important for all adults to prepare these documents.

By planning ahead, you can get the medical care you want, avoid unnecessary suffering and relieve caregivers of decision-making burdens during moments of crisis or grief. You also help reduce confusion or disagreement about the choices you would want people to make on your behalf.


Probate Administration

Probate administration is the process by which a decedent's assets are passed to their beneficiaries. When there is a valid will, it must be admitted to probate in order to trigger transfer of ownership. The probate process is also used to pass ownership when a decedent has no will. Through probate, the decedent's financial affairs, such as the repayment of debts to creditors, are wound up.  Whether or not an estate is required to go through probate proceedings depends on the assets that the decedent owned at the time of his or her death. Our firm generally assists in the following areas:

  • Opening the estate and having an Executor or Administrator appointed
  • Identifying the assets of the Estate
  • Providing advice as to the distribution of the assets pursuant to the decedent’s wishes
  • Working with the estate’s accountant to be certain debts and taxes are properly paid
  • Closing out the estate and seeing that the executor or administrator is discharged

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand the importance of choosing the right lawyer. We invite you to explore the breadth and depth of our capabilities.

Most of us spend a considerable amount of time and energy in our lives accumulating wealth.  With this, we want to preserve what we have and share it with future generations.  A solid, effective estate plan ensures that your hard-earned wealth will remain intact as it passes to your beneficiaries.

The short answer is no. However, there are many legal documents and restrictions that go into the process. Without a knowledgeable attorney, you may miss important parts of the process and your wishes may not come to light.  An attorney can help you through the entire process.

You can always update your estate plan. As you get older, your family may change in size, opinions might change, and the property you have may differ.  It is important to regularly review your estate plan.  Once you pass away, the most recent version of your plan will be upheld.

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