We help our clients with their estate planning needs, including wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other related estate planning documents.
Power of Attorney, Living Will, CPR Directives
An estate plan is more than just a few documents that anticipate your death. An estate plan should involve comprehensive preparations and the active participation of all of your professional advisors, including your attorney, accountant, and financial planner. These advisors should be (1) aware of your goals and concerns, (2) familiar with your family structure, and (3) knowledgeable about your assets and property.
Depending on who you are and what you own, an estate plan can range from a will and some powers of attorney to complex trusts and tax planning. Wills and trusts are the foundations of a strong estate plan, and we invite you to read about them in detail. Listed below are some other common documents that we can create to give your estate plan a solid structure, and minimize complications for your loved ones upon your passing.
Powers of Attorney
(C.R.S. §15-14-501 et.seq., which means Colorado Revised Statutes, Article 15, Title 14, Section 501 and following).
There are three major power of attorney categories in Colorado: medical, property and general. Each one allows another person to make decisions on behalf of the person named within it, also known as the “principal.” Within each category, a power of attorney can be durable or not. A durable power of attorney is one that is in effect even in the event of incapacity; in other words, if the principal becomes incapacitated, the power of attorney continues to be in effect. If a power of attorney is not durable, then it is only effective when the principal has capacity to act, or to “contract.”
Generally, in order for a power of attorney to be durable it must contain the text, “This power of attorney shall not be affected by disability of the principal,” “This power of attorney shall become effective upon the disability of the principal,” or other text showing that the principal intends for the power to extend through his/her disability or incapacity.
Upon the death of the principal, a power of attorney is not terminated/revoked until the agent has actual knowledge of the death or incapacity (if the power is not durable) of the principal (C.R.S. §15-14-502).
Power of Attorney for Property
A power of attorney for property names an attorney-in-fact, or “agent” (that is, the person who acts on the principal’s behalf) and describes the powers granted to the agent. The principal can give the agent a wide variety of powers, including dealing with real and personal property, making gifts, exercising powers of appointment, and others. Colorado recently enacted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (C.R.S. §15-14-701 et. seq.) which is generally effective January 1, 2010, specifics about its effective date can be found in C.R.S. §15-14-745.
Medical Durable Power of Attorney
A medical durable power of attorney is used to give an agent the power to act on behalf of the principal in making medical decisions, and directs or limits the agent’s authority as desired by the principal. The agent is required to act according to the terms of the medical durable power of attorney, and is considered a “designated representative” of the principal. The medical durable power of attorney gives the agent access to the principal’s medical records (C.R.S. §15-14-506). Unless stated otherwise, the agent’s power is recognized in states other than the one in which it was created (C.R.S. §15-14-509).
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney is one that combines all powers in one document. It encompasses both medical and property matters. For a variety of legal reasons, powers of attorney are often divided into separate documents to address medical and property issues separately.
An individual (“principal”) may indicate in a living will that life-sustaining procedures be withheld or withdrawn if that person has a terminal condition or is unable to make their own medical decisions. This declaration can also set forth the principal’s desires in the event that artificial nourishment is the only procedure being provided. In Colorado, a living will can be executed by any competent person who is at least 18 years of age (C.R.S. §15-18-102 and 103).
Though CPR directives are not executed by an attorney, they are serious legal documents that indicate to medical and emergency personnel that a specified person does not wish to receive CPR if their heart/lungs stop. This is similar to what is commonly known as a do not resuscitate order. They are generally more difficult to obtain than standard powers of attorney. CPR directive forms can only be obtained from a physician or a licensed health care facility. Colorado has also indicated the importance of the role of a physician in executing a CPR directive by requiring the attending physician’s signature on the directive. A patient must first consult with their physician, sign the Directive and then the physician signs the directive only after the patient has signed. After completing the form, the patient obtains a CPR necklace or bracelet for easy and quick identification. While not mandatory, the necklace/bracelet alerts emergency responders that the patient has a CPR directive in place.
For more information see the Colorado Bar Association’s website: www.cobar.org
The lawyers at Bordeaux & Boyes are here to help clients in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado with their estate planning needs. Please call us at 970.488.2737 for an initial consultation!