Essential Estate Planning Knowledge – Registering Your Plan

Sometimes, people who want to create an estate plan in the Colorado Springs or Centennial, Colorado area ask about filing or registering their plans. Will you, for example, after creating a last will and testament, need to take it to a Colorado government office and file it? Will you have to have your estate planning documents approved, notarized, or otherwise officially recognized?

Though types of questions are important, they represent a basic misunderstanding of how most of the estate planning process works. As a general rule, you are under no registration requirement when it comes to your  estate planning documents in the state of Colorado. Today, let’s take a look at why this is true.

Registering Your Last Will and Testament

The last will and testament is easily the most recognizable of all estate planning documents people create. Most people know what a will is, what it does, and why it’s important. However, many people mistakenly believe that, in order for you to create an effective will, you have to take that document to a Colorado courthouse, file it, or even have it approved by a judge.

This idea comes from a misunderstanding of how the legal process works. When you create a last will and testament you have to create a document that complies with some very specific Colorado state laws. These laws effectively direct what form the document has to take, and who is allowed to create a will. What they don’t require, however, is that you have to take your document to a government office and have it approved, or even file it.

Once you create a will, you are free to keep it wherever you like. Once you die, someone will have to take your will to a probate court so the court can determine if the document meets Colorado state legal requirements. However, you don’t have to do that while you are still alive.

Registering a Living Will, Advance Directive, or Power of Attorney

If you don’t have to register a will, what about other estate planning documents, like your power of attorney, or your advance medical directives? In general, the same principle holds true with almost any estate planning document created. However, there is one fairly big exception.

In many situations where you use a power of attorney to allow your agent to make real estate transactions on your behalf, your agent will have to file the power of attorney document in the county office where the real estate is located. State laws on this differ, so you’ll have to speak to us for more information if you are using a power of attorney to make real estate transactions.

Upcoming Estate Planning Workshops

If you have more questions about your power of attorney or will, contact our office.  We would love to answer your questions.  Another option is for you to attend one of our free estate planning workshops.  One of our attorneys speaks about what a wills is, when you might need a trust, joint tenancy, and much more.  Be sure to check out our workshop page to find out when our next estate planning workshop is.

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

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