Planning for Your Future

 

You never know what to expect when you enter a legal office. I had no sooner crossed the threshold when Myka Landry put me at ease. What caught my attention first was her brilliant smile, but soon her passion for helping people handle the complexities of estate planning became apparent.

 

Myka is no stranger to Elbert County. She attended high school in Simla while her dad practiced law in Kiowa. Her only absence from the area was to attend college and then law school at the University of Denver. “I took some time off from the full-time practice of law when my kids were younger,” she says. “But I started full-time estate planning and elder law in 2009.”

 

Myka grew up with a strong appreciation for how her father was able to help people. “I saw that the law was complicated and it was difficult for people to navigate on their own,” she says. “I wanted to help them understand the law and preserve their legal rights.”

 

She originally started out in litigation but decided her real passion was helping people to plan to avoid litigation and family discord. Much of the litigation and family discord she saw was the result of people passing away without an estate plan in place.

 

“Often family relationships were destroyed, and it broke my heart,” she says. “I decided I wanted to do my very best to help families avoid that result. I also wanted to help families with aging family members who are trying to find the best way to provide and pay for care. I am facing some of those challenges with my own family, as are many of my friends and other people I know.”

 

Estate planning is much more involved than people think. Many people believe as long as they have a document (will or trust) that says what they want to happen, everything will be okay. However, without looking at someone’s assets, ownership and beneficiary designations, and without knowing someone’s family situation, simply having a document could result in a disaster.

 

“Your document does not automatically govern all of your assets,” Myka says. “It could create unnecessary estate or income tax consequences. It may not provide for contingencies, such as second marriage, which may result in your children receiving nothing. Most importantly, without having your document evaluated in light of your entire situation, you could create even more family discord than if you did not have a document at all. Finally, you not only need planning for what happens upon your death, you also need documents that allow you to choose who can make financial and medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated or cannot make your own decisions.”

 

The laws with respect to these documents are very specific and need to contain certain powers people may not be aware of. In addition, the laws vary by state, so what may have worked for a relative in another state may not work for you.

 

“If you don’t have these documents or if you don’t have the documents that state specifically what you need, you may end up in an expensive and intrusive court process in which the court controls many decisions and/or ultimately decides who will make them for you,” she says. “Estate planning is not just a set of documents; it requires comprehensive understanding as to the law so that each person can make the choice that is right for them. In navigating my own situation, I found out how complicated things really are and want to help as many people as I can through that difficult phase of life.”

 

I notice a picture of a German shepherd on her desk and comment on it. Myka smiles and says, “That’s Shelby.” When Myka’s not in the office, she’s raising cattle and hay with her husband, Pat, “which takes up a great deal of our free time,” she laughs. “We come from an agricultural background and this is what we love to do. In addition, we have two grown sons and a baby granddaughter. We love spending time with our family. My particular passions are spending time with my family, being in the outdoors, riding my horse and walking with Shelby.”

 

Myka believes “estate planning is very important and that its importance is often overlooked. If you are thinking about doing estate planning or if you need questions answered regarding Medicaid for long-term care, I would love to answer any questions you may have.” Her goal is to answer people’s questions so that whatever they decide to do, they have the information necessary to make informed choices.

 

“Estate planning is not a one time thing,” she says. “It changes as your life circumstances change, as your financial circumstances change and as the laws change. I believe it is important to work with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney that you feel comfortable with and can have a long-term professional relationship with. That way you can have the peace of mind of knowing that whatever comes up in your life, you will have a legal partner to help you through.”

 

Myka would be happy to hear from you. You are welcome to call her office at 303-802-4672, or visit her website at www.mykalandrylaw.com.

 
—CB