Colorado Probate Blog - Wade Ash Woods Hill & Farley, P.C.

Serving Time; One Lawyer’s Perspective on Jury Duty

I’m sure that it’s every lawyer’s dream to serve on a jury panel at some point in their lives (read this with a healthy dose of sarcasm). Personally, I’ve always been very curious to see the fact-finding side of a jury trial while the jury is in deliberation. This past August, I ended up as the foreperson in a three-day trial, and came away with some surprising observations and lessons learned.

Continue reading
38 Hits

Electronic Wills–Governor Vetoes Florida’s Electronic Will Statute (Part II)

In 2017, the Florida Legislature approved House Bill 277 promulgating the new Florida Electronic Wills Act (FEWA). The FEWA authorizes the creation of electronic wills and provides that the execution of electronic wills may be witnessed and notarized through the use of remote technology. The Act also specifies that electronic wills for residents, as well as non-residents, may be probated in Florida.

Continue reading
34 Hits

Swedish Death Cleaning

A common problem which many families encounter following the death of a parent or other relative is how to deal with the decedent’s personal property. In the absence of a legally effective personal property memorandum, will, or other governing document signed by the decedent specifying who gets what, the disposition of the personal property sometimes leads to bitter, protracted, and often times expensive controversies between the surviving spouse, children of the first or subsequent marriages, or other family members.

Continue reading
31 Hits

Family Business Valuation Proposed Regulations Withdrawn

In a notice issued by the IRS on October 17, 2017, Treasury has withdrawn the Proposed Regulations issued August 4, 2016 concerning the estate, gift and GST tax treatment of valuation of family-controlled businesses. These regulations were issued under Code Section 2704 and would have impacted planning involving the valuation of such interests for transfer tax purposes. After the proposed regulations were issued, numerous written comments were submitted and a public hearing was held on December 1, 2016. President Trump issued Executive Order 13789 on April 21, 2017, instructing the Secretary of the Treasury to review tax regulations issued on or after January 1, 2016, and to submit a report to the President by September 18, 2017. The Secretary recommended that the proposed regulations be withdrawn, and the Treasury Department and IRS have now done so.

54 Hits

Some Practical Advice For Collectors of Art and Antiques

On the PBS television series, Antiques Roadshow, it is surprising how many children and grandchildren of a collector know nothing about the piece given to them or its value. The collector would of course have wanted his or her donee to appreciate the rarity of the object and to know the value of the item.

Continue reading
62 Hits

Equifax Data Breach-What You Need To Know

With the recent Equifax data breach, there are precautions you should be taking to assist in keeping your identity protected.

Continue reading
63 Hits

Jury Duty: A Lawyer’s Inside Perspective

Jury service is an integral part of our justice system. Most attorneys never get to see the inside of a jury room; this summer, however, I served as foreperson for three days for a felony trial in Denver District Court. I’m looking forward to giving you the inside scoop on what really happens behind those closed doors, from the perspective of a former litigator. Read all about my experience and my perspective in our upcoming Winter Newsletter.

Continue reading
65 Hits

Selecting Your Trustee

Selecting your trustee is one of the most important decisions to make when creating a revocable trust. The trustee is a fiduciary with the legal obligation to carry out the directions set forth in the trust agreement. The responsibilities and duties include collection and management of assets, preparing tax returns and distributing the income and principal of the trust as the document sets forth.

Continue reading
131 Hits

Late Portability Election

“Portability” allows a surviving spouse to add a deceased spouse’s unused estate tax exemption onto his or her own exemption. Each spouse has an estate tax exemption amount of $5 million, which is indexed for inflation after 2011. In 2017, the exemption is $5,490,000. To elect portability, a client must timely file Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, which is due 9 months after the decedent’s date of death, but the due date can be extended for six months if a request for extension is timely filed.

Continue reading
153 Hits

Electronic Wills-Dispensing With Pen and Paper (Part I)

Will Requirements

Continue reading
175 Hits

Third Party Rights: Small Estates and Non-Probate Assets

Many of our probate statutes are designed to carry out a decedent’s intention as expressed in his or her will. Certain rules of construction (survivorship, substitution of assets) apply to wills and revocable trusts as will substitutes. The statutes also provide for recognition and ordering of third party (non-beneficiary) interests in probate and revocable trust assets. These would include taxes, creditor claims, and family protection entitlement during the period of administration.

Continue reading
196 Hits

Elder Abuse Awareness Month

June is World Elder Abuse Awareness Month.  You can help to ensure the health and safety of our elder population...

Continue reading
179 Hits

Beneficiary Designations May be Dangerous to Your Estate Plan

Traditionally, the central document in an estate plan was a will or revocable trust. For many people, that continues to be true, but it is now possible to pass almost any kind of property outside the terms of your will. For example, this can be done by adding the beneficiary as a joint owner on a bank account, by naming the beneficiary as a “pay on death” (POD) or “transfer on death” (TOD) payee on a stock or securities account, or by signing a “beneficiary deed” that names a beneficiary to become the owner of real estate when you die. Colorado recently added automobiles to the list of assets that can pass by a TOD beneficiary designation. These arrangements, which I refer to generically as “beneficiary designations” can be useful, but they can also seriously disrupt a careful estate plan if they are done without care and appropriate advice.

Continue reading
146 Hits

Hail No!

Buyer Beware: Hail storm scammers are on the prowl...

Continue reading
258 Hits

Planning for the Apocalypse

Your options for preparing to survive a zombie apocalypse or other collapse of civilization as we know it now include some rather luxurious possibilities. According to a January 30, 2017 article in The New Yorker entitled “Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich”, highly affluent citizens of the United States have been quietly planning their survival strategies by hoarding rations, gold coins, and weapons and building state-of-the-art underground bunkers stocked with years of supplies.

Continue reading
211 Hits

Contention Over Lunar Bibles

The state of Texas and Oklahoma resident Carol Mersch, have been in a six-year, estate-related battle in court over 10 teeny microfilm Bibles that traveled to the moon and back in 1971 with NASA’s Apollo 14 Mission. These tiny Bibles contain all 1,245 pages of the King James Bible and are roughly the size of a postage stamp that can only be read through a microscope. Carol Mersch, a Tulsa business woman and author, and the state of Texas are not seeing eye-to-eye on who these precious keepsakes belong to. In 2009, Mersch became friends with a man named John Stout, a NASA chaplain. She claims Stout gave her the Bibles while she was writing a book about trying to land a Bible on the moon. Mersch has a certificate of authenticity signed by Stout, but attorneys for the state of Texas and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services contend that due to the declining physical and mental health of Stout and his wife in their later years, they were considered wards of the state and their son, Jonathan Stout, should inherit the Bibles. Mersch is accused of exerting undue influence over Stout and his wife. She has spent approximately $500,000 defending the litigation regarding ownership of the moon Bibles. For now, until the rightful owner is established, these “First Lunar Bibles” remain stored in a Tulsa County courthouse pending a May 3 hearing.

199 Hits

Don't Get Nailed by Spring Scams

Don't be a professional home improvement scammer's next victim...

Continue reading
232 Hits

Go Green! The Alternative to Traditional Burials

If you are searching for an alternative to the traditional burial that will reduce your “carbon footprint” and lessen the impact you have on the earth, you may want to consider a “green” or “natural” burial. Contrary to what some believe, green burials are becoming more and more popular. A green burial is designed to be environmentally friendly and impact the earth as little as possible. This type of burial reduces chemical and carbon emissions, preserves habitat and conserves natural resources. It also helps to protect the health of those in the industry. The process of a natural burial features the removal of the use of chemical preservatives or disinfectants like embalming fluid, which contains formaldehyde and is highly toxic. Caskets, coffins and urns are made out of biodegradable materials like cotton, wicker, linen, silk or even bamboo, all of which break down into the soil without adding toxins to the earth as they decompose.

Continue reading
204 Hits

Jury Duty is No Laughing Matter

As part of our civic obligations, we may all, at some point, be called to serve on a jury. Whether we actually serve for a trial or get excused, jury duty is not to be taken lightly. Recently, Michael Chavis walked out of the courthouse during a break just after opening remarks by prosecutors in the case of Richard Wyatt, a man on trial for selling firearms illegally and evading income tax in connection with a gun shop he owned in Wheat Ridge. According to court documents, Chavis left his juror badge on the table after the break, grabbed his belongings and walked out of the courthouse. Chavis assumed he was done and said that he had “mental reservations” or a “panic attack.” He claimed he “wasn’t focused” when asked about his disappearance by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Krieger.

Continue reading
255 Hits

Some Thoughts on Gifting

This commentary is provided by an author who is both a senior lawyer on the one hand and a father and grandfather on the other.

Continue reading
304 Hits