Category: Estate Planning

Estate Planning for Extended Families

The Complexity of Planning for Blended Families

Each blended family represents a unique act of loving combination and set of complex issues, finances and emotions. Estate planning for blended families takes on this complexity and uniqueness.

In this brief video we describe some of the issues and complexities to be considered:

As the video describes every blended family’s uniqueness and circumstances require careful and thoughtful planning. At the outset, any conflicts of interest must be examined and resolved to determine if more lawyers are required to represent individual family members.

Before proceeding with any planning exercise caution and make sure you are working appropriate specialists. For more information or to learn more about planning for blended families, contact our office at 303-688-3535.

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. 

how often should you revisit your will 2

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: 

coronavirus estate planning scam 2
  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.

Related Posts:

Resolve to Complete Your Estate Plan

The new year brings excitement, opportunity and resolutions. Often people resolve to complete their estate plan in the coming year. Given that most people do not have a current, integrated and HIPAA compliant plan, that is a great resolution.

So how do you get started? Start by watching this video, especially if you have a family:

Your goal should be to have an integrated and HIPAA compliant plan. To learn what plan is right for you and your family, call our office today at 303-688-3535 to schedule your in depth estat planning assessment. You’ll be glad you did.

The Gift of Estate Planning

Many articles have been published about the gift of estate planning. In fact, it is one of the most important gifts you can give to your family and loved ones. A well crafted estate plan represents part of your legacy and how you will be remembered. How you would like to be remembered when you are gone and does your estate plan reflect those wishes?

Why can estate planning be such important gift for your family? Consider these benefits your family receives from your well thought out plan:

1. Protection for your spouse from creditors and predators. Are you leaving a plan which exposes your spouse to risk or protects them?

2. Protection of children from the over indulgence of youth, protection from creditors and protection against predators. Does your plan for your children provide these protections?

3. Inclusion of grandchildren or other family members who are disabled. Such issues should be considered in every plan. Are they addressed i yours?

4. Asset and probate planning. Do your assets create problems and are these issues addressed in your estate plan?

5. HIPAA compliance. Protection of your health information is important in our electronic age. Is your entire plan and all documents HIPAA compliant? If not it needs to be.

6. How recently have your reviewed your plan? Plans older than 5-7 years may create unexpected traps and negative results for your family. Has your plan been reviewed recently?

Does your current plan provide these benefits to your family? Now you know why estate planning is one of the best gifts for your family not only at the holiday season but also year round.

The Importance of Proper Beneficiary Designations

In estate planning the details matter. In fact they matter so much that the tiniest of details can derail your entire plan. A good example of that is your beneficiary designations.

Family Lawyer Castle Rock

Beneficiary designations can be on things like bank accounts, insurance policies, IRA’s and brokerage accounts. The key question is are your beneficiary designations synchronized with your estate plan? If they are not then your estate plan can fail.

To avoid the inadvertent failure of your plan, work with your estate planning attorney to check each beneficiary designation to ensure coordination with your estate plan.

Protect Yourself and Family from Scams and Fraud

Our firm is located in Castle Rock, Colorado, currently rated as one of the most desirable places to live in the U.S. As our community has grown it has attracted an assortment of scammers, fraudsters and con-artists. Each year we publish an article on the latest tips you can use to protect your family and yourself from getting scammed. Here is our 2019 update on avoiding fraud and cons.

Here are some of the latest frauds to watch out for:

1) Fake families begging at local stores.
2) Fake notices on obtaining recorded documents about real estate.
3) The ever popular robo call now also on your cell phone.
4) Skimming machines at local gas stations.
5) In good weather the always annoying door to door sales person.
6) Internet scams now appearing on your facebook and twitter pages and in the groups you follow there.

There are many more and scammers get bolder and more sophisticated each day. Your job, with these tips is to outsmart the con-artists. Here are several tips to use:

1) Any time and in any place that you feel threatened or uncomfortable, call the police or sheriff’s office. Nothing makes rats run away faster than the cops arriving.

2) If you are unsure about an offer or sales person, check them out before signing anything or giving them money. Use these links to get more detailed tips:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0060-10-things-you-can-do-avoid-fraud

https://www.bbb.org/avoidscams/

https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/get-help/protect-yourself-from-scams

3) Ask your lawyer or CPA for their opinion before you hand your hard earned money over to someone. Your lawyer and CPA owe you what is called “fiduciary care” so they are required to have your interest paramount.

4) As hard as this may be to do, NEVER EVER give money to someone who is begging at the store. If you fail to follow this rule you will probably see that fake family at the car dealer buying their next car with your money!

5) As fun as it is to follow advice on facebook, twitter and nextdoor, don’t buy ANYTHING just because you see it there. I recently purchased a tool for my bike on facebook and, to my total dismay it was a total piece of garbage and I should have known better!

The basis rule in our law is Caveat Emptor. This means that only you can prevent fraud and only you are the best means to protect yourself from scams and con-artists. Remember this: Be careful out there!

3 (Of Many) Reasons Why Estate Planning is Not Only for the Wealthy

Before I became an estate planning, I did not fully understand the importance of having an estate plan.  I thought that estate planning was only for the wealthy.  Nothing can be further from the truth!
So, here are 3 reasons why you should consider meeting with an estate planning attorney, regardless of your wealth:
1. You have children under the age of 18.
A good estate plan protects your children from an uncertain future.  For example, a comprehensive estate plan for families with young children will include an Appointment of Guardian, which allows you to nominate a guardian to care for your children when you die or become incapacitated and are unable to care for them.  They also include an Authorization for Care of Minor Children, which allows you to appoint an another adult to temporarily care for and make decisions on behalf of your minor children when you are on vacation, unavailable, or become incapacitated.
2. To appoint decision makers to take care of you and your finances should you become unable to do so.
Not all estate planning concerns death.  For example, power of attorney documents are important estate planning tools.  These documents allow you to name people you trust (agents) to make medical and financial decisions for you while you alive, but are unable, or don’t want to, make such decisions for yourself.
3. The State in which you live has already created an estate plan for you.
All 50 states, and the District of Columbia, have laws that dictate how your property will be distributed after you die.  These laws are called the laws of intestacy and apply when you die without a will.  These laws may not match how you want your property to be distributed after your death.
Greta Suneson