5 Common Estate Planning Mistakes Coloradans Can’t Afford to Make


Are you aware of the potential pitfalls that could disrupt your plans for the future if you don’t have a proper estate plan in place? Estate planning is about more than creating a Will —it encompasses a broad spectrum of legal preparations to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death. Importantly, it also includes making essential decisions about your healthcare and financial matters if you become incapacitated.

As a region with its distinct estate laws and regulations, Colorado presents unique challenges and opportunities for estate planning. Having firsthand experience in this realm, we at Burr-Law see many Coloradans go down costly and stressful paths due to common, yet preventable, estate planning mistakes.

Key Aspects of Estate Planning in Colorado:

  • Asset Distribution: To ensure your assets, whether properties, businesses, or personal items, pass on to your loved ones—the way you wish.
  • Healthcare Decisions: Creating a Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will to allow others to make medical decisions if you’re unable to do so.
  • Financial Management: Through powers of attorney or living trusts, controlling who manages your finances when you cannot.
  • Tax Minimization: A well-structured estate plan can potentially limit the taxable amount of your estate, leaving more for your heirs.
  • Avoiding Probate: Colorado probate process can be time-consuming and costly. A proper estate plan, especially with a trust, can bypass this.

In the following sections, we will shed light on five common estate planning mistakes we’ve seen people make in Colorado—and, crucially, how you can avoid them.

Mistake 1: Not Having an Estate Plan at All

Many people, irrespective of their age or wealth, tend to overlook the importance of having an estate plan. This can be attributed to a misconception that estate planning is exclusively for the elderly or the wealthy. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Estate planning is a critical process for any individual who wants to have control over their assets, healthcare decisions, and finances after their death or in case of incapacitation.

Consequences of Dying Intestate in Colorado

Dying “intestate” (without a Will) in Colorado can lead to a host of complications for your loved ones. In such cases, Colorado’s intestacy laws will determine how your assets are distributed. This means that your assets may not necessarily be distributed according to your wishes, but rather in accordance with a predetermined formula set by the state. The process can also be time-consuming and costly, leading to added conflict and unnecessary stress for your loved ones during an already difficult time.

Importance of Having a Will or Trust

Having a Will or trust in place is essential for estate planning. A Will enables you to specify how you want your assets to be distributed after your death and can also include provisions for the care of minor children. On the other hand, a trust can offer additional benefits, such as avoiding probate, providing for the management of your assets both during your lifetime and after your death.

A significant advantage of having a Will or trust is that it provides a clear roadmap for the distribution of your assets, reducing the potential for disputes among your heirs. Moreover, with a Will or trust, you can ensure that your estate is managed and distributed in a manner that aligns with your wishes and values.

Avoiding this common mistake is not as daunting as it may seem. As your trusted attorney for estate planning in Colorado, we can guide you through the entire process, ensuring that your estate plan aligns with your personal goals and the needs of your loved ones. Don’t let the absence of an estate plan leave your family in a lurch—contact us today to learn how we can help.

Mistake 2: Not Considering the Cost of Estate Planning

Another common mistake that Coloradans make is not considering the cost of estate planning. Often, individuals either underestimate or overestimate the cost, leading to inadequate planning and potential repercussions down the line.

Average Cost of Estate Planning in Colorado

In Colorado, the cost for comprehensive estate plan varies depending on the complexity of your estate and the attorney’s experience. As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” Opting for cheap, do-it-yourself options may not offer the same level of protection and expertise that professional estate planning provides. Also consider the cost of probate. Often the expense, time, and stress of probating an estate unnecessarily far exceeds the cost of advance estate planning.

Importance of Investing in Comprehensive Estate Plan Drafting

Investing in comprehensive estate plan drafting is not an expense but a crucial step to secure your family’s future. It provides a clear path forward for your loved ones in case something happens to you and ensures your wishes are honored. Moreover, it reduces the risk of disputes and conflicts among family members, which can cause additional stress during an already challenging time.

At Burr-Law, we understand that every family has unique needs and assets. We provide personalized services tailored to each family’s specific circumstances, offering proactive and educational guidance to help you align your estate plan with your goals. We’re here to ensure your estate planning documents don’t just offer false security but truly protect you and your loved ones when the time comes.

When it comes to estate planning, cutting corners can cost you more in the long run. It’s essential to work with experienced professionals like our estate planning team who can guide you through the process and ensure your plan is comprehensive, legally sound, and effective.

Mistake 3: Not Involving an Estate Attorney

When it comes to estate planning, especially when real estate properties are involved, it’s a common mistake to disregard the crucial role of an estate attorney.

Role of an Attorney in Estate Planning

An estate attorney can provide invaluable advice on how to best incorporate your real estate holdings into your estate plan. They understand the nuances of property law and can help you navigate through the complex process of transferring property ownership, ensuring that your real estate assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes.

For example, an estate attorney can advise you on the use of specific legal instruments, such as a life estate or a revocable living trust, to avoid probate and ensure a smooth transition of your property to your heirs. They can also assist in coordinating with your financial advisors and ensuring that your beneficiary designations are accurate and up-to-date.

Why Colorado Does Not Require an Estate Attorney and Why You Might Still Need One

Colorado does not require an attorney to be involved in the home buying process. However, when it comes to estate planning, it’s not just about buying or selling a property. The stakes are much higher, and the legal complexities can be more difficult to navigate.

Involving an estate attorney in your planning process can provide you with peace of mind. They can ensure that your estate plan is legally sound and that it effectively addresses all aspects of your real estate holdings.

At Burr-Law, we recognize the importance of comprehensive estate planning, and that includes considering your real estate assets. Our team of experienced attorneys can provide you with the guidance and support you need to ensure that your properties are included in your estate plan in the most effective and efficient way possible.

The goal of estate planning is not just to prepare for the inevitable but to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of and that your legacy is preserved. So, don’t make the mistake of overlooking the crucial role of an estate attorney in your planning process.

Mistake 4: Not Ensuring the Validity of Your Will

A common pitfall in estate planning is not taking the necessary steps to ensure the validity of your Will. An invalid will can lead to numerous complications, including potential legal disputes among your beneficiaries and your final wishes not being carried out as you intended.

Requirements for a Valid Will in Colorado

In Colorado, the law sets out several requirements that must be met for a will to be considered valid.

Firstly, the Testator (the person making the Will) must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. This means that you must understand the nature of your actions, the extent of your property, and who your beneficiaries are.

Secondly, the Will must be in writing. It can be typed or handwritten but it must clearly express your intentions. Oral wills are generally not recognized in Colorado.

Thirdly, the Will must be signed by the Testator.

Finally, the signing of the Will should be witnessed by at least two individuals who are over 18 years old, or notarized. These witnesses must sign the Will in the presence of the testator and each other. Ideally, the signing of a Will is both witnessed and notarized.

Consequences of an Invalid Will

If your Will is deemed invalid, the consequences can be dire. Without a valid Will, your estate will be distributed according to Colorado’s intestacy laws, rather than your specific wishes. This could mean that certain loved ones or charities you intended to benefit from your estate receive nothing.

On top of this, an invalid Will can lead to costly and time-consuming legal battles. Family members may contest the Will, leading to potentially bitter disputes and further heartache during an already difficult time.

Ensuring your Will is valid is a vital part of the estate planning process. Enlisting the help of an attorney for estate planning in Colorado can provide invaluable peace of mind. At Burr-Law, we can guide you through the process, ensuring your Will is legally sound and accurately reflects your final wishes. Don’t leave your legacy to chance. Reach out to us today and let us help you secure the future for your loved ones.

Mistake 5: Not Regularly Updating Your Estate Plan

Importance of Regularly Reviewing and Updating Your Estate Plan

Just as you review your financial investments periodically, your estate plan also deserves similar attention. This is because your estate plan is a living document that needs to adapt to life’s unexpected twists and turns. As your trusted estate planning team, we at Burr-Law believe that your estate plan should evolve with your life circumstances, changes in the law, and fluctuations in the economy.

An outdated estate plan might not only fail to reflect your current wishes, but could also lead to unintended consequences. For example, you might have designated certain assets for a beneficiary who is no longer alive, or your estate plan might not take into account the latest changes in tax laws. To avoid such pitfalls, it’s crucial to review and update your estate plan regularly. This ensures that your estate plan remains aligned with your current needs and goals.

Common Life Events That Should Trigger an Estate Plan Review

Life is full of significant events that can impact your estate plan. Here are some common life events that should trigger a review of your estate plan:

  • Marriage or Divorce: These events can significantly alter your financial situation and your preferences for asset distribution. If you’ve recently married or divorced, update your estate plan to reflect these changes.
  • Birth or Adoption of a Child: The arrival of a new family member is a joyous occasion that comes with increased financial responsibilities. Review your estate plan to ensure that your new child is included as a beneficiary.
  • Death of a Loved One: If a beneficiary or a decision maker named in your estate plan passes away, you need to update your estate plan to reflect this change.
  • Changes in Financial Circumstances: A significant increase or decrease in your wealth should prompt a review of your estate plan. This includes instances such as starting a new business, selling an existing business, receiving inheritance, or experiencing financial hardship.
  • Changes in Tax Laws: As estate planning regulations can undergo revisions, stay updated about any legal changes that could affect your estate plan (Estate Tax Planning Lawyers in Aurora, Colorado | Burr Law).

In addition to these events, we recommend reviewing your estate plan at least once every three to five years. At Burr-Law, we can help you navigate these changes, ensuring your estate plan remains current and effective. An outdated estate plan can be as harmful as having no plan at all. Don’t wait for a life-changing event to review your estate plan. Contact us, your trusted attorney for estate planning in Colorado, and let’s ensure your plan is up-to-date and continues to fulfill your wishes and needs.


In the process of estate planning, there are several pitfalls that Coloradans must avoid. These common mistakes, such as not having an estate plan at all, not considering the costs of estate planning, not involving an attorney, not ensuring the validity of your will, and not regularly updating your estate plan, can have serious consequences. These oversights can potentially lead to legal complications, financial burdens, and emotional distress for your loved ones.

The importance of seeking professional help in estate planning cannot be overstated. Estate planning is a complex matter and involves a deep understanding of the legal landscape and Colorado’s specific laws and regulations. Without the guidance of an experienced attorney, you risk making decisions that may not be in your best interest or that of your loved ones.

At Burr-Law, we pride ourselves on our integrity, open communication, and commitment to our clients. As your attorney for estate planning in Colorado, we will guide you through the process, ensuring that you avoid these common mistakes. We will help you understand the complexities involved, assist in drafting a comprehensive will or trust, and ensure its validity in accordance with Colorado law.

Moreover, we believe in the importance of regularly reviewing and updating your estate plan. As life changes, so do your needs and wishes. We are here to ensure your estate plan remains current, reflecting your current circumstances and desires.

Avoid the costly mistakes made by so many when choosing a lawyer for their family’s legal planning needs. Contact us today to begin your journey in estate planning, and let us assist you in making smart, loving choices for your family’s future.

For more detailed information on estate planning, check out our comprehensive guide on the subject and our free report on the six major mistakes families make when choosing an estate planning attorney, available for download on our website.

Estate planning is a critical process that requires careful thought and consideration. With Burr-Law by your side, you can navigate this process with confidence, knowing that your legacy and your loved ones are protected.

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