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Estate Planning

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RKV Law offers a wide range of estate planning services for individuals and families, including the preparation of wills, trusts, and business succession planning documents. Our focus is to assist our clients’ overall goals in providing for their families at death and to minimize gift and estate taxes. At RKV Law, we also provide planning for clients during their lifetime, such as in the event of incapacity through the preparation of advance directives and medical and financial powers of attorney.

Additionally, we can assist our clients with the care of their minor children through the designation of guardians.

Who needs an estate plan?

There is no specific net worth requirement that a client must have before triggering the need to have an estate plan. If you are a living person, have any assets in your name, and wish for those assets go to particular people or charitable organizations when you pass away (or go to those individuals or organizations during your lifetime in the form of a gift),
then you are a candidate for an estate plan.

What type of estate plan do I need?

In 2017, a married couple may have up to a combined $10.98 million dollars of assets (less the value of any gifts made during lifetime that reduced an individual’s lifetime exemption) before they will be subject to having to pay any U.S. federal estate tax upon death. A single person (other than a widow who has inherited their deceased spouse’s unused exemption) may pass away with up to $5.49 million dollars of assets before their estate would have to pay any U.S. federal estate tax. According to various authorities, given the inflation-adjusted federal estate and gift tax exemptions, less than 0.2% of estates will owe any federal estate tax.

Essentially, the number of individuals and married couples who need to do sophisticated estate tax planning are the minority on the extreme side of the spectrum. This does not mean that there is no need for married couples or individuals to have estate planning documents.

The best approach is a holistic estate plan that considers all factors that affect you and your family.

At RKV Law, we take pride in guiding our clients through the estate planning process, which includes thoroughly educating clients about each document before they sign. Additionally, if you happen to already have estate planning documents, we can review those documents to ensure that they accurately reflect your current wishes. If you have any questions about the creation of a new estate plan or the review of an existing estate plan, please let us know and we will be happy to assist you.

Probate/Estate Administration

RKV Law is very experienced in the administration of decedents’ estates. We help the personal representative of an estate navigate through the probate/estate administration process during an understandably difficult time for a family that has lost a loved one.

Probate is the process by which a will is proved through the legal process as valid or invalid. A person can also be determined to have died intestate, without a will. The estate of a person who has died needs to be administered, and a personal representative is appointed by the court to handle the estate administration. In general, the personal representative
will collect information regarding assets of the decedent, pay valid debts, expenses of administration and taxes, and then distribute the remaining assets to the appropriate beneficiaries.

The probate process can either be formal or informal and unsupervised, the latter being the case for many of the estates that are administered in Colorado.

Trust Administration

Many people choose to establish a revocable trust as part of their estate plan for two key reasons—to plan for the distribution of their assets during a period of incapacity and to minimize the involvement of the probate court after their passing. In a perfect world, if all of the assets that someone owns when they pass away are properly titled in the name of
their trust, jointly titled with someone else (with right of survivorship), or set up to be paid through some sort of beneficiary designation, then the need to probate these assets may be eliminated.

By circumventing the probate process, the trustee of the trust may administer and distribute the assets held in the trust more quickly and efficiently. Typically, the administration of a trust is not a court supervised process; however, trust administrations are similar to probating an estate in that the ultimate goal is also the transfer of property from
an individual who has passed away to that individual’s beneficiaries who are identified in his or her trust.

Business Succession Planning

If you’re like most business owners, you’ve worked hard to build a profitable company. While this is a fantastic accomplishment in and of itself, it is only one facet of the overall business cycle. Do you have partners in your business? Have you considered a plan of action if one of the partners passes away unexpectedly or becomes disabled? Would you be
comfortable working with one of your partner’s heirs rather than having the right of first refusal to buy a deceased or disabled partner’s share of the business? How would you pay for that share of the business?

At RKV Law, we understand that the dynamic of each business and their owners is unique, and that one plan does not fit all. We can help you design a business succession plan that includes, among other things, a review of your existing operating agreement (or the creation of an operating agreement if you do not already have one), and the establishment
of a buy-sell agreement with a cross-purchase plan.

Asset Protection

Asset protection planning is for anyone seeking to protect their assets from potential creditors—it is not just for the super-wealthy.

Anyone can get sued. Lawsuits can stem from car accidents, credit card debt, bank foreclosures, or unhappy customers, among many other things. If someone wins a monetary judgment against you, the financial ramifications could drastically affect you and your family. To help keep your assets away from creditors, you should consider moving them somewhere that creditors may have a more difficult time reaching them. Asset protection techniques include maximizing contributions to IRAs, moving funds to an irrevocable trust, retitling various assets, and using limited liability companies or family limited partnerships.

It is important to note that asset protection planning should be done as a preventative measure, before you are sued. Under the law, you may not defraud current creditors. If a lawsuit has already been filed against you, or if you know you are going to be sued, and you transfer assets so that creditors can’t reach them, a court may reverse the transfer. Because of this, it is a good idea to put a plan into place now before it’s too late.

At RKV Law, we can work with you to develop an asset protection plan that addresses your short and long-term financial goals.

Fees

Estate and business planning fees vary to meet the different needs of our clients. Our goal is to streamline your estate and business planning needs by providing cost effective services that accomplish your goals. We explain to potential clients the documents necessary to create an effective plan and also discuss the approximate cost to effectuate it. We offer flat fee arrangements for certain types of plans and cases. If you wish to discuss your estate and business planning needs, please contact us to schedule a consultation with our estate planning team.

Our collaborative approach

At RKV Law, we believe it is essential to work with the client, the client’s financial advisor, CPA, and any other advisors to achieve the client’s goals as a team. Our usual process is to begin with having you fill out our estate planning questionnaire. The questionnaire provides us with pertinent information prior to meeting with you or your family. After
completion of the estate planning questionnaire, we then meet to discuss your goals and the documents that will be created. We then draft the documents, send them out for your review, and follow-up to ensure that your wishes are accurately reflected in the documents.

As soon as we confirm that everything is correct, we finalize the documents for execution, and schedule a signing ceremony to properly execute the documents—the original documents are given to the client and we keep electronic copies. We avidly use technology at RKV Law and can provide electronic copies of documents to clients upon request, as well as schedule
meetings via Skype or FaceTime if that is more convenient for you than coming to our office in person.

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