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Law Offices of Ronald W. Rutz
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May 2, 2000: More on Big-T Water; Problems Associated with Dwelling in 2 States

Q: (A composite question based on a number of telephone calls and messages received on Sunday and Monday.) In your column a week ago Saturday, you said that Big-T Water had risen from $2500 to $3000 a unit in September to $21,000 a unit. Another writer in your newspaper on Sunday in the Business Section indicated the true increase was from $7000 to $17,000 with sales around $14,000. Who is right?

A: I have not met the writer of that particular article or know what, if any, background he actually has in water. But as a reporter it seemed he was merely passing on what he was told by his sources. I, on the other hand, was sharing actual sales, offers, and/or contracts that I, another attorney, and a water broker independently had actually seen and/or been involved with. So the numbers in my column, I feel, give a more accurate picture of what has been happening.

And remember, as in the stock market, the run up in value has not included all water. So to focus on just certain kinds of water does not mean that there is no other water available at dramatically lower prices, depending of course on the proposed use.

The demand that spiked up the price of Big-T water seemed to start here in the Fort Collins area. Then as demand declined here other buyers in the Loveland/Berthoud area jumped in and pumped up the price as the Fort Collins demand slackened. Now much of the interest in Big-T water seems to be centered in the southern and southeastern part of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

Q: Do I have an estate problem if I live in Colorado for part of the year and Arizona for the rest of the year?

A: Yes and no. First, let's look at legal documents. Your Will and your Durable Power of Attorney (including medical) will be valid in either state regardless of where each was actually executed. (I suggest that you sign four original Durable Powers of Attorney in case one or more are not given back after use by a third party and you do not have the capacity to sign new ones at the time.)

But Living Wills (the document that directs that life sustaining machines be turned off) are a product of each state's law. Since neither Colorado nor Arizona is required to recognize the other's document, it is best to sign one in each state using that state's officially approved form. Unlike a Will, a later Living Will does not cancel an earlier one.

Each state may try to claim you as a citizen of that state for things such as estate settlement and taxation. Thus you must choose one state to be your legal home and the other to be your "nondomiciliary residence" to avoid double estate settlement expenses and taxes. Your attorney can help you to be sure that as many of your incidents of legal residence as possible point to one state e.g. where you are registered to vote, which state you list on legal documents such as a passport, where you file tax returns as a legal residence as opposed to an out-of-state residence, where vehicles are registered, etc, just to name a very few. But ideally all should point to just one state as your legal home.

Next, property ownership must be coordinated. Except for real estate, all property that you own will be subject to the law of the home state. For example, such things as bank accounts, brokerage accounts, stocks, vehicles, etc., that are located or titled in another state but are in your name can be transferred in a Colorado proceeding without having to start another probate proceeding in Arizona. If real estate is present in a sister state and not held in joint tenancy, and if its probate laws are similar to the Colorado Probate proceedings, a Will probably is all that is needed even though two probates must be started. But if the other state's laws are not as friendly as our system in Colorado, then a living trust could become a must. You need to have an Arizona estate planning lawyer talk to your Colorado lawyer for just a few minutes.

The foregoing is just part of the answer. But I am out of space so let me continue at another time so that you can have a complete picture of the basic overall structure.

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