What is a Will?
A will is a document containing a set of instructions stating what you want to have happen to your property after you pass away. Often, a will distributes out your property, and your heirs will receive that property outright (or in other words, all at once) after the probate process is over, which generally lasts about six to twelve months. Probate is the term used to describe administering your will, or distributing out your assets. You can also nominate a guardian and conservator for your minor children, distribute out your “stuff” (the legal term is tangible personal property), which is generally clothes, furniture, jewelry, artwork, kitchenware, etc.
In a will, you nominate a Personal Representative (often call an Executor) to administer your estate. That Personal Representative then files your will with the court after your passing. The court has the discretion to choose whether to appoint your nominated Personal Representative, who then has the authority to wraps up your final affairs, pays any remaining debts and bills, and then distributes your remaining property to your heirs according to what your will says.
A will only begins to have authority after you pass away, so it does not provide you with any incapacity planning during your lifetime. Probate in Colorado is both cost-effective and efficient. However, it is a public process, which may or may not be a factor for you personally.
Will-Based Estate Plans
A comprehensive will-based estate plan includes a Will, a General Durable (i.e. Financial) Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will, and HIPAA Waiver.
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