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covid-19 impact on family law

The Impact of COVID-19 on Family Law

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has radically altered how the world works, at least for the near term. Entire cities are rightly being shuttered as measures are taken to slow the spread of this dangerous disease. Workers are being furloughed or laid off, there are mounting unemployment claims, and there is an air of uncertainty among all of it. 

We’re seeing similar developments within the Colorado court system. While each jurisdiction is responsible for communicating their individual plans for holding court and processing cases as usual, the Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are also suspending some operations until the Coronavirus pandemic is brought under control and judicial workers can safely return to work. 

This is obviously impacting family law cases. Those who are in the process of filing for divorce or resolving child custody disputes are finding themselves hamstrung by the Coronavirus situation. Not every judicial jurisdiction in Colorado has the same stance on this, however. To obtain information about COVID-19 announcements in your county, we suggest visiting the Colorado Judicial Branch’s web page and locating the announcement specific to your county.

New Divorce Filings

Because so many districts are experiencing limited operations regarding the administration of  hearings, depositions, and trials, it’s going to be very difficult if possible at all to quickly and effectively file for divorce amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. 

When Will This Happen? 

We are living in a state of uncertainty. No one knows for sure how long we will have to wait before divorce court proceedings will return to normal. As of the publishing of this blog post, many districts have announced limited operations until mid-May or early June. Depending on the ongoing severity of the Coronavirus pandemic, these timelines might be extended even further.

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Therefore, it’s advisable to prepare for weeks and potentially months of delays. As challenging as this may be for some, it’s worth remembering that everyone is experiencing setbacks as a result of current events. Even in cases of uncontested, childless divorce proceedings, it’s likely that little to no progress will be made for newly filed cases until operational restrictions are lifted. 

What Can Be Done During This Time? 

Even though the Colorado court system is experiencing protracted delays, that doesn’t mean you cannot obtain legal advice related to your divorce filing. During the COVID-19 situation, Kokish and Goldmanis, PC is still engaged in active communication with our clients. So, we remain available to consult with you and develop strategies for divorce proceedings now, so that appropriate action can be taken when it becomes possible to do so. 

Impact on Domestic Situations

Not only are judicial operations experiencing significant disruptions, but stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders are making it difficult to locate housing alternatives. This is having direct impacts on marriages that are in the process of being dissolved. 

So, in addition to divorce filings being drawn out with no real end in sight, local public health directives are adding yet more complexity to the situation. Right now, it’s not so easy to find a new place to live, even temporarily. An example of this is the abrupt drop in bookings on lodging platforms like AirBnB and Hotels.com

If you’re someone who is currently in the early phases of divorce and you’re still living with your partner, the best actions to take during this time are to remain patient and do the best you can to tolerate your existing living situation. It might be worth exploring temporary living situations with family or friends; however, keep in mind that the same social distancing guidelines are going to need to be taken into consideration. 

We are all in this together. And, everyone is encountering personal struggles as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to send shockwaves throughout the world. 

We Are Still Here for You

One of the many benefits that comes with having an experienced Family Law team in your corner is effective preparation—preparation for filing motions, drafting necessary documents, and providing sound legal advice for complicated cases. 

Kokish and Goldmanis, PC is your legal resource for Family Law matters related to divorce, child custody, will and estate cases, and more. We specialize in demystifying the legal process, and our team is standing by to help you even as we’re all adjusting to life in quarantine. 

If you are in need of legal counsel in a Family Law matter, please contact our offices today. We look forward to be of service to you during these trying and uncertain times.

how often should you revisit your will

How Often Should You Revisit Your Will?

For many important reasons, anyone with any assets at all should have a will. It’s a common misconception that wills are expensive, or that a lawyers assistance is required in the creation of a will. Yet others may simply take a passive stance, stating that writing a will is something they just haven’t ‘gotten around to, yet’.

While there are some kernels of truth in many will-related misconceptions (for example, complex wills may require the involvement of an estate planning attorney to form), there simply is no good reason not to have a will. 

Any time someone dies without a will, they are considered to be ‘intestate’. Intestacy can be confusing and frustrating for the family and rightful heirs of the deceased, as they will be invariably forced into dealing with the state probate court to have all of the assets distributed according to equal heirship stakes. 

This situation often goes against what would have been the wishes of the deceased. However, a will cannot be written after death, even by someone who has power of attorney for the deceased. 

Not many of us enjoy talking about death. It’s a subject that most of us avoid, which is completely understandable. However, there are several very good reasons why having an active will should be high on your priority list. 

Not only is having a will a smart idea, it’s also good practice to revisit your will to make changes as your life situation changes. At Kokish and Goldmanis, PC, we specialize in providing estate planning services tailored to the lives of our clients—lives that evolve and transform as the years go on. 

For this reason, we highly suggest revisiting your will. As for the question of how often this should be done, the answer depends on a few factors. 

Revisit Your Will After These Events

Generally speaking, any significant change to your assets, marital status, or family relationship qualifies as a good reason to reevaluate your will. 

Common life events that alter your relationship with someone else can be good reasons to update your will. Some of these life events might include: 

  • Having a child
  • Adopting a child
  • Getting married
  • Getting divorced
  • Severing ties with a family member
  • Making amends with a family member

Even if none of these have happened to you in the recent past, a good rule-of-thumb for revisiting a will is once every three to five years. 

Why is this? 

It’s because our lives can undergo changes that we aren’t consciously aware of until multiple years have passed. An example might be buying a car to fix up as a hobby, and then storing it in a shed and forgetting about it. Another example might be acquiring expensive jewelry and then ‘rediscovering’ it during spring cleaning. 

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Assets come and go in our lives for a multitude of reasons. New jobs (or job losses), sweepstakes winnings (or bankruptcies), paid-off mortgages (or loan defaults) all contribute to our overall asset scenario. That’s why dusting off your will for a once-over makes sense to do every three-to-five years or so.

Other Things to Consider During a Will Update

Has a close member of your family fallen into dire illness? If this person is named as an heir in your will, it might be worth reconsidering how you’d like those assets to be reassigned.

The same goes for legal guardians or will executors you may have determined in the prior version of your will.

Remember that minor changes to a will can often be made without having to completely rewrite the will itself. These changes can include adding or removing an heir, changing the status of a specific asset, or something similar. Often, the use of something called a codicil serves this purpose.

You can think of a codicil as being a minor amendment to a will.

Larger, more extensive changes to a will are best made through a complete rewriting of the will. Whether or not this is something that you will needs should be addressed on a case-by-case basis. 

For Legal Help with Estate Planning, Contact Us

Our goal at Kokish and Golmanis, PC is to make estate planning simple, straightforward, and easy for our clients. 

Regardless how many iterations your will has seen in past years, we can help ensure that it reflects your current wishes for how you’d like your estate to be handled after your death. 

To learn more about how we can help, contact our office today.

hipaa esate planning documents

The Importance of Making Sure All Your Estate Plan Documents Are HIPAA Compliant

Proper estate planning requires incredible attention to detail. While it’s true that there are self-service, ‘cookie cutter’ estate planning solutions out there, there is no substitute for a lawyer-assisted estate plan strategy that covers all of the bases with confidence. 

Part of a comprehensive approach to estate planning necessarily includes a review of the compliance of all estate planning documents. Compliance matters when the time comes for estate plans to be executed after death. If an estate planning document is not compliant with federal or state regulations, it stands a chance of being legally impermissible. 

One such regulation administered at the federal level is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This important regulation was enacted in an effort to protect sensitive medical information as it is disseminated among healthcare organizations, insurance companies, and other third parties. 

Even though HIPAA legislation took place in 1996, some of its provisions haven’t been applicable to areas of family law until recently. As such, many estate planning tools are having to be completely overhauled in light of it. This has resulted in a sharp uptick of our clients requesting compliance reviews for their estate plans, and for good reason. 

HIPAA’s Effects on Estate Protection

At the heart of every estate plan is protection of assets. Every other estate planning aspect takes a backseat to the goal of protecting the estate and ensuring it is bequeathed according to the wishes of the individual in question. 

Numerous rules within the long list of HIPAA regulations actually negate many protections in legacy estate plans—estate plans that, if not updated, could expose the estate to multiple risks. 

Durable vs. Springing Powers of Attorney

A sound estate plan is going to include a provision that grants a trusted person Durable Power of Attorney (POA) in the event that the individual in question becomes incapacitated. HIPAA regulations do not affect the durable POA clauses in most estate planning documents. 

However, there is another kind of POA that is affected by HIPAA, and it’s known as Springing Power of Attorney. This applies to the transfer of power upon a doctor-certified incapacitance of the principal individual. Because HIPAA is so strict in its discouraging of doctors in the disclosure of medical information, it can be difficult to begin taking action on an estate plan if and when the key individual becomes incapacitated. 

The Impact on Trusts

Many types of trusts including revocable living trusts can be impacted by the recently enforceable HIPAA regulations. For example, the assignment of a trustee in cases of incapacitation can become unnecessarily more complicated and protracted due to HIPAA restrictions on sharing medical information. 

So, if a doctor’s hands are tied in their sharing of information, it can be a challenge for a substitute trustee to begin exercising power even when the situation clearly deems it legal to do so. 

One way to address both of the above-listed issues is to append an estate plan to include a document known as a HIPAA Release. HIPAA Releases list certain individuals that are determined to be authorized to receive protected medical information in certain scenarios (including instances of incapacitation).

However, in order for a HIPAA Release to be legally viable, it needs to meet certain criteria spelled out in the HIPPA regulations themselves. For this reason, the involvement of a knowledgeable family law attorney is often required. 

hipaa estate planning documents

Take Action to Protect Your Estate

Regulations affecting estate plans often change fairly regularly. Unless you’re constantly monitoring these changes on your own, it’s possible that your estate plan can fall out of compliance. 

Ongoing regulatory developments like the HIPAA situation described in this article can make it difficult to know if your estate plan is in good shape. Because of this, the legal team at Kokish and Goldmanis, PC suggests updating your estate planning documents every few years and especially after significant life events like marriages, divorces, deaths, or during serious illnesses. 


If estate planning seems highly complex, it’s because it is highly complex. For this reason, the family law team at Kokish and Goldmanis, PC are available to clear up the confusion. 

Whether you’re new to estate planning or you’re interested in starting the conversation from ‘ground zero’, our team is here to help. Don’t risk your estate to a standardized, one-size-fits-all estate planning solution, even if it comes with a tiny price tag. 

Take action to protect your estate by scheduling a consultation with us, today.

coronavirus estate planning scam

Coronavirus and Estate Planning Scams You Should Be Aware Of

During times of crisis, most people do the right thing by looking after themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors. Unfortunately, there are individuals who seek to take advantage of others when something disastrous (like the COVID-19 disease pandemic) grips the world. 

There will always be criminal profiteers standing by, ready to pounce on people whose defenses may be down. And, right now, as we are all doing the best we can to stay safe during the Coronavirus pandemic, defending ourselves against scams may not seem like a high priority. 

But, it should be. 

Kokish & Goldmanis, PC specializes in helping our clients protect their assets. This can come in the form of estate and trust administration, assistance with dissolution of marriage proceedings, or probate litigation services. Or, it can come in the form of straightforward, common sense advice aimed at empowering you with the knowledge you need to stay safe during trying times. 

Beware of These Coronavirus Ploys

As of the publishing of this blog post, there are no less than two dozen well-known scams currently making their rounds throughout the world. These scams are tailored to seem legitimate on their face; however, their ulterior motive is almost always the same: to separate you from your money, identity, or other assets. 

The first step in defending yourself against these scams is to simply be aware of them. Here are some of the more treacherous scams to watch out for: 

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  1. Government impersonators. Right now, Americans are dealing with unprecedented job losses, reduced wages, and increased stress. They need relief, and they’re looking for it wherever they can. So, when an email comes in promising a tax rebate, financial ‘gift’, or other monetary promise from a seemingly legitimate governmental authority, it’s tempting to open it, click the link, and follow the instructions. However, please be cautious.

    The IRS has made it clear that they are only using their official website (www.irs.gov) for any communications, transactions, or notifications related to economic stimulus and/or disbursement of Coronavirus-related relief of any kind. Do not trust any email, phone call, or other communication that you cannot factually verify as originating from the IRS itself.
  2. “Help Desk” scammers. As more and more US workers are moving to remote working situations, they’re having to rely on the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), cloud-based collaboration tools (Google Docs, Slack, etc.), and online meeting platforms (Zoom, FaceTime). Not everyone knows how to use these systems, which can make it easy for a phony ‘help desk employee’ to seem like he or she is genuinely interested in helping you out.

    Sadly, this scam often has the underlying objective of getting you to click a malicious link that will take you to a website or other online location where your identity may be compromised or the data on your computer might be accessed by criminals.
  3. Coronavirus donation scams. Cybersecurity researchers are noticing an uptick on the amount of fake donation solicitations being sent out by criminal organizations. These emails, text messages, and phone calls claim to be asking for donations to help those affected by the virus outbreak. However, it’s a near certainty that any donation you make using these channels is only going to end up lining the pockets of a cyber thief.

    If you’re asked to send virtual currencies to anyone as part of a ‘Coronavirus Relief’ donation, do not do it. Only use reliable, reputable communication methods with established charitable organizations to do this. 

Keep in mind that this is a very abbreviated list. There are so many different Coronavirus-related scams being attempted right now that it would be impossible to list them all in this blog post. Follow the time-tested advice of always being skeptical about any official-looking communication that is requesting you to send money anywhere or enter your personal details on a website you’ve never heard of. 

Estate Planning Scams

The reality is that even when disasters like the Coronavirus are not affecting millions of Americans, there will still be estate planning scams thriving in the world. 

Some of the worst offenders in this arena are known as trust mills, and they target elderly or disabled individuals. 

A trust mill is often represented by dishonest salespeople who claim to be able to protect your assets from forfeiture or seizure by the government after death. In reality, what they’re peddling is a one-size-fits-all estate plan. Sometimes, these trusts are called “Pure Equity” or “Constitutional” trusts, or a “Living Trust Kit”. All they really want to do is take your money in exchange for a cookie-cutter estate plan that doesn’t benefit you. 

At Kokish & Goldmanis, PC, our number one priority is your safety and security. Please remain vigilant against scammers during this time, and don’t hesitate to contact us for help with your estate planning, family law, or civil litigation needs.

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DIY Estate Planning is Hazardous to Your Family and Property

Decades before legalzoom existed DIY estate planning did. It’s no better today than ever due to mis-information on the internet and the desire of people to avoid lawyers. Here are several reasons (among many) to avoid harming yourself and family with a DIY plan.

A. DIY Planning is more expensive than working with an estate planning specialist.

When you factor in the separate charges that all DIY solutions charge per document, no DIY solution can price match a real estate plan. Remember that DIY planning is not real planning. You are substituting someone else’s document for your own. There is no design or drafting particular to your family. How can it make sense to pay more and get less? It doesn’t.

B. DIY plans are traps for the unwary consumer.

All DIY plans share this trait: they are not tailored for you. They are designed to apply to a wide swath of people none of who are you! This is true of all online planning documents. Remember none of these are prepared for you by a qualified estate planning specialist.

A current example is that almost every DIY plan is NOT HIPAA compliant. If the plan or any of your documents are not HIPAA compliant your plan will fail.

You are responsible for yourself and family. You will make the decision. Should you pay more to get less or even faulty documents that don’t work? OUr recommendation is to properly protect yourself and family by working with a qualified estate planning specialist attorney or lawyer on your estate planning, will, trust and other documents.

We help families succeed. 303-688-3535

Get Help If You Suspect Exploitation

Exploitation of the elderly and other persons at risk is increasing daily. The K&G Estate Department has an array of tools and lawyers to help in these difficult cases. Society should protect it’s most vulnerable, elderly, children, the disabled but alarmingly these vulnerable people are most often at risk from their own families.

Abuse of persons at risk can come in many forms. Physical, emotional or financial. Protecting at risk individuals begins with education, training and sometimes legal intervention. If you become aware of an abuse case please take these steps immediately:

  1. Report to the person responsible for the person unless that is the abuser.
  2. Report to authorities. Police and sheriff departments have training and personnel to deal with these cases.
  3. Contact our office 303-688-3535 for assistance. The K&G Estate Department has attorneys trained to assist with these matters and who specialize in protecting at risk individuals.

Family Attorney Hannah Paille Joins Kokish & Goldmanis

K&G is excited to announce that family law attorney Hannah Paille has joined the firm’s Family Law Department. Paille will be specializing in family law matters such as divorce and post decree matters.

Paille is originally from Bossier City, Louisiana.  She attended Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana and achieved a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in journalism and political science with a concentration in pre-law. There, she was the president of the debate team, traveled the world competing in debate, and discovered her passion for public speaking and in-depth analysis of complex issues.

Paille went to law school at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for her first two years, where she gained valuable experience at the East Baton Rouge Office of the Public Defender and clerking for the first woman to serve as a judge at the Middle District of Louisiana District Court. She then transferred to the University of Denver for her last year of law school.

Welcome Hannah Paille, to the K&G family!

Becky Goldmanis Named a Colorado Super Lawyer for 2018-2019

Kokish & Goldmanis is proud to announce that K&G partner Becky Goldmanis has been named a Colorado Super Lawyer for 2018-2019.

The Colorado Super Lawyers are well known and recognized as the best lawyers in Colorado.

Goldmanis, who heads K&G’s Family Law Department had this to say, “I am honored to be named a Colorado Super Lawyer! As a former district attorney it is gratifying to know that our work at K&G in helping families is recognized”.

K&G Lawyers Are Active in Our Community

K&G partner Bernie Greenberg is now the immediate past chair of the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce and the current chair of the board of directors of the Castle Rock Chamber Foundation.

The foundation provides education to the public and schools on the economy, business and finance to equip the public to be better citizens and understand how our economy works. By providing these educational programs the Castle Rock Chamber Foundation reduces the financial burden to local governments who lack resources to provide such education.

Greenberg, who heads K&G’s Estate Department had this comment, “It is honor to serve the Castle  Rock Chamber Foundation as it’s chair and move our community forward with broader and deeper understanding of how the economy works.”