At twelve years old Catherine Hammond’s mother came to her with an article about Alzheimer’s Disease and said, “I think I have this.” Ten years later, Hammond was forced to put her mother in an assisted living facility because of the effects of the disease.
Through her heartache, Hammond was pushed at just 22 years old to contend with resolving legal and financial aspects of her mom’s estate through the court system. By obtaining a law degree and devoting her practice to estate planning, Hammond determined to help other families avoid the turmoil of a complicated and expensive legal process.
Believe it or not, nearly everyone has an estate. Everything you own—car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions, are all considered part of an estate.
If you die or become disabled without a will or trust, state law gets to determine how your belongings are distributed, and not only can the result be far from what you wanted, it can also spark trouble in the family.
“The attorney who helped me at that time was so ridiculously helpful,” Hammond said, “I want to be a help to other families going through similar experiences.”
As a result, the primary focus of Hammond Law Group is protecting families from the devastating legal effects of disability and death, and advising clients on how best to achieve their goals while eliminating or reducing legal fees, taxes, publicity, and other complications.
“Most estate planners focus on transferring assets from one generation to the next and minimizing taxes,” Hammond said. “What makes us very, very different is that we take a holistic look at our client’s situation and aspirations and really listen to what’s important to them so we can create a plan to help them accomplish all of their goals, not just the financial ones.”
This type of holistic approach involves coordinating the ownership of assets including real estate, bank accounts, businesses and more, to overseeing the beneficiary designations onretirement plans and other accounts, to analyzing each situation to ensure any possible taxes are minimized. But a good estate plan also passes on your wisdom and values along with your assets.
“When people’s children get divorced, they want to make sure their assets stay with their child, that they don’t get divided with their child’s future ex-spouse, but not go to the ex-spouse’s new partner,” Hammond said. “People think this happens automatically if they name their son or daughter in their will, but it doesn’t. “ And there are other issues to navigate. “Often they want to leave assets to their children but stagger them over time so they don’t run through their trust immediately, or maybe just minimize the conflict between siblings regarding the distribution of assets. That’s a big deal. We’ve seen many families torn apart after a loved one dies, and good planning can minimize the chances that your death will divide your family.”
Supporting clients with a strong team-centered approach means a collection of people are ready and able to help when clients have questions, affording expedient, efficient service anytime.
“While each client works with one attorney, we get together and regularly discuss the plans for each client in order to ensure we’re doing everything possible to help meet their goals,” Hammond said.
One of the most common complaints people have with lawyers is a lack of communication, however by working closely as a team Hammond Law Group resolves this issue for their clients. “Everyone is trained to answer questions so we are always able to carry on if their attorney is busy with another client or out of the office.”
“We don’t charge our clients for phone calls because we don’t want them to worry about being billed if they need to reach us,” Hammond said. “Clients don’t need to wait until their attorney contacts them to ask questions.”
Fostering strong relationships is a fundamental part of Hammond Law Group’s culture. As part of their commitment to providing exceptional client care, a number of resources help ensure the team is communicating effectively, providing helpful information, and keeping clients up-to-date.
Along with quarterly newsletters, Hammond Law Group clients are invited to a free “check-up” with an attorney every three years to review their plans and objectives. Not only do laws and regulations change or become restructured, sometimes a client’s needs and ambitions change too.
“It’s important for us to keep up with the changes in our client’s lives as well as to make sure the plans we have in place are still the best strategies to help them achieve their goals.” Hammond said.
Private client workshops on estate planning, aging, and financial topics are held almost every month in the Phyllis A. Hammond Education Center (named for Hammond’s mom). “We’re committed to helping our clients stay well-informed on things that may be relevant to living well and leaving the legacy they desire,” Hammond said.
Hammond Law Group believes every family benefits from making informed choices, but they recognize that sometimes even basic planning is tricky and complicated. That’s why they have conducted over 500 free consumer workshops in the past ten years, investing many thousands of dollars and staff hours to make this information available to everyone.
Serving Colorado Springs and Denver, helping Colorado families through the planning process as well as navigating some of life’s most difficult events, this is the heart of Hammond Law Group.
For more information go online to ColoradoEstatePlan.com or call 719-520-1474 in Colorado Springs, and 303-736-6060 in Denver.