Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

4 Tips for your Post-Divorce Estate Plan with Pamela Maass | Episode 57

September 30, 2021 Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha Season 1 Episode 57
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
4 Tips for your Post-Divorce Estate Plan with Pamela Maass | Episode 57
Show Notes Transcript

Ryan Kalamaya and Pamela Maass discuss recommendations for estate planning after a divorce in Colorado.

What is Divorce at Altitude? 

Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries, and criminal defense in Colorado. 

To subscribe to Divorce at Altitude, click here and select your favorite podcast player. To subscribe to Kalamaya | Goscha's YouTube channel where many of the episodes will be posted as videos, click here. If you have additional questions or would like to speak to one of our attorneys, give us a call at 970-429-5784 or email us at [email protected].

************************************************************************

DISCLAIMER: THE COMMENTARY AND OPINIONS ON THIS PODCAST IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING LEGAL ADVICE. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY IN YOUR STATE OR AREA TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE ON ANY OF THESE ISSUES.

Ryan Kalamaya (3s):
Hey everyone. I'm Ryan Kalamaya.

Amy Goscha (6s):
And I am Amy Goscha.

Ryan Kalamaya (8s):
Welcome to divorce at altitude. A podcast on Colorado family law

Amy Goscha (13s):
Divorce is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me. I know, besides being an experienced divorce attorney, I'm also a divorce.

Ryan Kalamaya (21s):
Whether you are someone considering divorce or a fellow family law attorney listening for weekly tips and insight into topics related to divorce, parenting, and separation in Colorado. Welcome back to another episode of Divorce at Altitude. I am Ryan Kalamaya this week. I am joined by an estate planning attorney, Pamela Maass. She's known as the law mother, and we're going to talk about the four tips that everyone should be aware of in post divorce planning. But first Pamela, how are you doing? I'm doing great,

Pamela Maass (56s):
Ryan, thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Ryan Kalamaya (58s):
Well, for those listeners who want a little bit more background on you, you went to Arizona state. You're a like me, a fellow CU buff, you know, went to CU law school. I wanted to start off by talking about how you got into estate planning, because originally you were in the Boulder DA's office. So can you talk to me about your evolution into an estate planning attorney?

Pamela Maass (1m 22s):
Totally Ryan. So I loved being in the district attorney's office in Boulder and really enjoyed, you know, being in court, serving the community. But I saw this real need that families, especially younger families didn't have access to some of the legal planning tools that we're going to talk about today. And then the unexpected, what happened, whether it was an accident or some type of crime. And I would see down the hall, their loved ones in a long, messy probate process. And so that's when I kind of first started to be interested in it and wanting to really serve people in a proactive way to fill back out,

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 56s):
Let's jump into it. And, you know, we also discussed before the podcast. And I think, you know, maybe before we talk about your Tips is to discuss that, you know, the, the issue of divorce planning during a divorce and after a divorce. So can you talk to me a little bit about what you frequently see in your estate planning practice?

Pamela Maass (2m 15s):
Yeah, so I think there's this, you know, fine line when you're filed for divorce, right? So there's different stages. People are contemplating filing for divorce, they filed, and then the divorce is done. And there's a lot of confusion about what you can and can't do with assets at each of those stages. And so when people reach out to me and they're contemplating a divorce or they filed for divorce, I'm the first call I'm making is, you know, we need to have you chat with a family law attorney, a divorce attorney first, because you really need to be advised to comply with those laws. So traditionally, as soon as you file for a divorce, your state plan that you had in place previously. So if you had a will or a trust in place, certain pieces of those will be put on hold, right?

Pamela Maass (3m 0s):
There are no longer valid while the divorce is filed, but certain parts of it, you know, if you don't update it, you know, won't will kind of stay the same, right. Beneficiary designation. We'll talk about that. But yeah, I would say my first recommendation, call Ryan and get on the phone with him in his office right away, because you don't want to be in a situation where you are in hot water in the family law case, because you are starting to try to transfer assets into some type of trust or into some type of other account while you have filed for the worst. So that's probably your area of expertise. I'd love to hear your take on that as well.

Ryan Kalamaya (3m 35s):
Yeah. I mean, the there's a couple things that come to mind first is, you know, for people that want to look into more resources, Amy and I have recorded a podcast on a gray divorce, you know, people in the later stage of their life going through divorce estate planning can be an issue. But one issue that we kind of identify is that if someone is passes away during a divorce, there can be some confusion. You also, in terms of the power of attorney, which I know we'll talk about, you know, having the spouse, the strain spouse, who might be angry, do you trust them to make that call if you are on life support and during a divorce. And there can be some interesting issues. I mean, there's some case law in Colorado about what happens in those circumstances or what happens when someone dies during Divorce.

Ryan Kalamaya (4m 22s):
The other issue is we have a blog post about cause there is an automatic injunction that goes into effect in a divorce. And in terms of insurance and transferring assets, you know, there are the kind of parties that want to drain, you know, the marital state and transfer it to their kids certainly or into a trust that somehow depletes the marital estate, we've seen that. And that those are issues that are subject to a whole different episode. So we're kind of going to be focusing this conversation on post divorce estate planning. So let's jump into your four tips, the first one being updating beneficiaries in life insurance and retirement accounts. So talk to me about what you recommend in that area.

Pamela Maass (5m 7s):
So if your divorce is final, you really want to update those. And a lot of people set up those accounts, you know, 15, 20 years ago, and they don't even remember who they put on it or they have their ex-spouse on it. So you want to make sure that once the divorce is final, that is updated to who you want. And if you do have minor children, minor children, can't inherit directly. So if you update it to a minor child, then you're looking at going through probate and that's where you definitely want to also check out Ryan's episode on Trust. I work with like 99% of my clients do trust-based planning. So typically if you have minor children, you're going to want to put it in, update those beneficiaries to a living trust and then have a living trust, really layout what's going to happen and how it's going to go to the kids.

Pamela Maass (5m 50s):
And who's going to take care of it. And so that you can really provide also that guidance and support, but also save that money and have it not go through probate.

Ryan Kalamaya (5m 58s):
And one thing that we deal with in a divorce, if there's child support or maintenance, there might be a requirement that the recipient is named as a beneficiary to protect that person. So for example, as listeners may recognize, Eric Wolf is a hypothetical divorce client, and he's going through a divorce with Melanie Wolf. If Eric is going to be responsible for paying maintenance or spousal support or child support, Melanie's attorney might require him to name Melanie as a beneficiary for a particular amount, you know, a million dollars or something. And that's the, if he passes away that, you know, she is entitled to a particular amount, but what Pamela, what you are saying is other than that sort of explicit requirement in the divorce, people should be looking at updating their life insurance, because you know, that people just forget about what, who they have as their beneficiaries, right?

Pamela Maass (6m 49s):
So those retirement accounts, those life insurance and Ryan, you make a great point, right? You know, you have to comply with your divorce agreement. So if there's something in there that addresses those, you know, you want to have that consistent. But a lot of times the other piece that I see people forgetting about, even people that meet with me and we're kind of going through the checklist is a lot of people have life insurance through their work and they just kind of forget about it cause they don't make the payments on it. They forget they have it. And one of the biggest risks to your family in general is them not knowing what you have and where it is. So I always say, you know, when we work with clients, we create a whole inventory and we talk to you about how to get that information to the people, if something were to happen and, and really, really set up those contingencies.

Pamela Maass (7m 31s):
But if before you work with an estate attorney and kind of the simplest way is to grab a folder, put the first page of the documents of everything in one folder, and then tell the people, your kids, the people that you trust, Hey, this is where the folder is, where all my accounts are. Colorado has over 55 million in unclaimed property because people simply don't do that. Step. California has 9 billion in unclaimed property. It's a big problem that people can't find what you have when you pass away. I was actually talking to someone who was saying that her father who's actually a lawyer didn't do as a state plan. And he was having, you know, emergency heart surgery and he's writing it on a napkin for his daughter as he's going back there, like oil leases and information.

Pamela Maass (8m 12s):
And, you know, he survived and everything was fine, but it's one of those things that people tend to think about.

Ryan Kalamaya (8m 18s):
Absolutely. And you know, my experience has been, you know, when people go through divorce and they're having to inventory all their assets and debts, it is, you know, an experience for them where they are keenly aware of what they own. And you know, then there's kind of this natural segue into what do I get? And then what do I want to do with it after the divorce, which is where you come in, because you know, the parties will want to make sure that if something happens to them, that they know where the property that they fought so hard in a divorce where exactly that property goes. If they pass away, this episode is brought to you by our law firm. Kalamaya Amy. And I describe our law firm as an innovative and ambitious trial team that pushes the boundaries to discover a new frontier is in family law, personal injuries in criminal defense in Colorado.

Ryan Kalamaya (9m 8s):
We currently have offices in Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Edwards, Denver, and Boulder. If you want to find out more, visit our website, Kalamaya dot Law. Now back to the show. So the second is updating power of attorneys for medical and health. Talk to me about what you mean by that tip.

Pamela Maass (9m 28s):
So for medical health and financial, and I think you kind of hit on it in the intro a little bit. So this is something that you can do even while the divorce is pending, but also when the divorce is done, you really want to make sure that you have indicated who you want to make your financial decisions if you could not. So unfortunately, some of us, the majority of us will face and capacity disability at some point in our life. Hopefully for all of us, it will be many years from now, but you never know. And so you want to make sure that if you were ever in that situation, that your financial power of attorney who would make your financial decisions is set up with who you want. And then also if you weren't able to speak for yourself with your health decisions, who are those people, you want to make your health decisions.

Pamela Maass (10m 9s):
So I call that your medical power of attorney, and then we also have advanced healthcare directive, which are, what are those decisions? What are those wishes? Do you want to be on life support? Do you not want to be on life support? And, you know, I always tell my clients. I know it's sometimes hard to think about, but when you you're really giving a good, an amazing gift to your family, because when they are in that situation of stress and mourning, they're having to figure out what your wishes are and make assumptions. And it's very stressful. So really removing that burden from them so that they know what your wishes would be, God forbid, and that situation, but also really making sure you have that control because ultimately it's about your control and wanting people to follow your wishes.

Pamela Maass (10m 49s):
The example of where this went horribly wrong is the Terry shival case. I don't know if you remember that from the nineties, probably a lot of listeners do. And I see you're shaking your head. Yes. So, you know, there's no assumption in the law that if you do get remarried, that that future spouse has your best interest or that your parents have your best interest. And so in that situation, Terry was in a situation where she was never going to recover it. She was in a persistent vegetative state. Her parents wanted to keep her on life, support. Her husband wanted to take her off. And it became a big public battle. For 15 years. This poor woman was taken on and off life support. It was made public politicians used it.

Pamela Maass (11m 29s):
And ultimately she was allowed to pass 15 years later. So really about taking back that control and making sure that it's not going to be a long, messy core paddle down the road for your family members.

Ryan Kalamaya (11m 39s):
Yeah. And for listeners, you know, they're familiar with our Eric Wolf story, people going through divorce, they don't have control, or at least they feel as if they things are out of control. And that is just somewhat Nate inherent the, in the process because they are essentially stuck in a negotiation with someone that, you know, they chose to marry, but they're having to negotiate with someone that they are emotionally at odds with. And it feels oftentimes when people are going through a divorce, that things are out of control and, and it really bothers, you know, people like Eric Wolf and, you know, when they finish that divorce process, now at least they have that control at their disposal.

Ryan Kalamaya (12m 19s):
So the third tip in terms of control is dictating, who gets what in a will or updating the wheel. Like these, my understanding under Colorado law is that after a divorce that the ex spouse, so Melanie and Eric, Eric, and Melanie's divorce, she's essentially written out of the will, but that doesn't mean that Eric shouldn't be looking at revising his will. So tell our audience about what things they should be looking at in terms of updating are creating a will post divorce.

Pamela Maass (12m 49s):
So whether you're creating an a will or a living trust, and for a majority of my clients, they decide to do a living trust for a few reasons, mainly keeping it out of probate. But the nice thing about a living trust when you get done with the Divorce is if you have children with your ex spouse, if something were to happen to you, that minor, child's going to go most likely live with your ex spouse, but maybe your ex spouse, isn't great with money. And the nice thing about having a living trust is you can really set up, you know, who you would want to manage the money for them, if something were to happen. And you can also kind of set up in your, for your disability protection as well. If someone would need to step in how they're going to manage it and really keep it out of the court system, you just went through a long divorce wills, go through the court system, living trusts, keep them out of the court system.

Pamela Maass (13m 37s):
So whichever one you decide to do really setting it up in a way that your money is going to be controlled by who you want.

Ryan Kalamaya (13m 45s):
Yeah. And one thing that I've seen and have done, and Amy and I referenced this in our gray divorce episode is that parties in a divorce, you know, they can basically agree what they're going to do in their estate planning documents. So if they have children, they might disagree on who's at fault for that divorce or, you know, various issues, but they might be they're frequently in agreement that they want what's best for their kids. And that could even be for adult kids, not just minor kids. And so there are mechanisms where we can agree in the divorce agreement that they will provide for, you know, fill in the blank for their children and that they can have an Alliance, so to speak when it comes to their wills, but they're going to have to update their estate planning documents and their wills to make sure that that is in agreement and that they satisfy their obligations in that separation agreement in the divorce.

Ryan Kalamaya (14m 36s):
So you mentioned trust, the fourth tip that you have is what

Pamela Maass (14m 40s):
Is setting up a dynasty trust or lifetime asset protection trust for the people that are going to inherit for you. And if you have children, it's a really great tool to make sure that if they go through a divorce in the future, that they're not going to lose their inheritance, but also setting it up in a way that's going to protect it from future creditors, any type of future issues down the road. So this is how people inherit money in a trust, and then they start businesses and go bankrupt, but they still have access to a trust fund. They've inherited it in this special type of trust, a dynasty trust or lifetime asset protection trust as it's known. And the story I always share is I had a colleague whose friend was, you know, inherited a whole bunch of money when he was, you know, in his twenties.

Pamela Maass (15m 25s):
And it went outright in his bank account. And so he never went to college. He never really like amounted to anything. So the nice thing about a dynasty trust in addition to that protection is you can also put things in place to really set up whether you have adult children or minor children that will eventually become adults. You can really set it up. So it really gives them the financial support, whether that's an age Delaine when they're gonna know about it. And when they're going to be able to make decisions until they're at an age, that they are mature enough to cover it. And that really kind of giving them that guidance and support. So it's not just going in their bank account and being spent and blow.

Ryan Kalamaya (15m 59s):
Yeah. And we in a divorce, we frequently deal with these, but it's more on the older generations that have provided for people going through a divorce where whether or not these various provisions create marital property, your separate property, we frequently see them. We don't, but what you're referring to is after you go through a divorce for that person to provide for their children after they're done with the divorce.

Pamela Maass (16m 25s):
So a lot of my clients, one of their motivations after they've gone through a divorce is, you know, they want to make sure their kids are going to be fully protected. They want to set their kids up for success. They want, I work with a lot of blended families. So maybe you are thinking that you are going to get remarried, or you did get remarried a few years later, or at the same time, whenever you're ready to do that. And with blended families, there's a lot that you want to do as far as kind of balancing how much you want to go to the new spouse, how much you want it to go to your children. And this is just a really good tool to protect everybody. But also if your kids in the future, where to go through a divorce, really protecting them. So they're not going to lose it.

Pamela Maass (17m 5s):
And so yeah, you see it on the flip side, a lot, Ryan of, Hey, were these drafted correctly to really keep it in the out of, you know, as a marital asset. And so, yeah, you can kind of, if you draft drafted correctly, keep it that protection and for your kids and have it, it's called design Sue trust because the ideas it can pass on for generations.

Ryan Kalamaya (17m 23s):
Well, Pam, for people that want to find out more information, maybe they are going through divorce or they are finished with a divorce. You are based where,

Pamela Maass (17m 32s):
So I am based down in the south Denver area. So my office right now is a little 10, but we are going to be moving to the internus area next month, but we serve people statewide. So that's been one of the nice things with the pandemic pre pandemic. We pretty much just focused on people that came to our office. And now I would say, I dunno if it's the same with you, but I would say, you know, 90% of my clients are meeting with me over zoom. I send notaries to their house. So I have clients up in the mountains in Crested Butte at BW and Aspen. I have people in Pueblo and I have people in the Denver Metro area. So yeah, statewide and best way to get ahold of us. Our website is Law mother.com.

Pamela Maass (18m 14s):
And we also have a [email protected] forward slash webinar. It's a 30 minute webinar. It's very entertaining. And it includes a hypothetical family that has gone through divorce. So it's a good there. And if you watch that you get a discount on legal services, so 30 minutes of your time, and then we give you a discount if you work with,

Ryan Kalamaya (18m 34s):
Well, I love that. I mean, you're active on LinkedIn. I know you have a podcast and you know, it's great to have, you know, a discussion with a forward thinking, you know, lawyer where you really are looking at the community service aspect, but also really meeting people where they is most convenient for them. So, you know, I know you have a video on your website where you're doing video appointments. And I think that is one, a silver lining from the pandemic is that I think attorneys are now more willing to be accommodating and we are able to serve a broader range of customers all across the state of Colorado because, you know, we're, people are more, you know, they're, they're more comfortable with having that service.

Ryan Kalamaya (19m 18s):
It's more convenient for them to,

Pamela Maass (19m 20s):
Yeah. And I, so I have a lot of clients that have young children, so they like the convenience of being able to put something on in the other room and come over. And then I have a lot of clients that are, you know, of the baby boomer generation and beyond, and, and they have gotten very comfortable during the pandemic with tech and they enjoy the convenience and as well. So yeah, it's been a great, great silver lining to be able to serve people in a way that really meets, meets them somewhere.

Ryan Kalamaya (19m 46s):
And tell me a little bit about the working moms podcast that you have.

Pamela Maass (19m 51s):
Mom's podcast is really focused on interviewing women and some men. So we also interview men to really just continue the conversation around supporting, working moms and in different ways. So we've had everyone from politicians on to people in the tech space to medical providers on so really enjoy kind of continuing that conversation and really trying to highlight, you know, the different resources that are out there and then different struggles that,

Ryan Kalamaya (20m 25s):
Well, I think that that will resonate with a number of our, our listeners. And I know Amy, my has frequently will mention her issues is as a single working mom and, you know, the, the issues that you have to address so kudos to you for providing that forum. And again, for listeners who are interested in posts, Divorce Estate planning, checkout Pamela at Law, mother.com. And thanks again, Pam for joining us until next time everyone. This is Ryan again. Thank you for joining us on Divorce at Altitude. If you found our tips, insight or discussion, helpful, please tell a friend about this podcast for show notes, additional resources or links mentioned on today's episode.

Ryan Kalamaya (21m 8s):
Visit divorceataltitude.com. Follow us on apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen in. Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find Amy and me at kalamaya.Law or 970-315-2365 that's kalamaya.law.