Understanding the Intersection of Love and Law

In the grand tapestry of life, relationships weave intricate patterns of joy, love, and companionship. However, beneath the surface of every connection lies an inevitable truth: all relationships will come to an end, whether through death or divorce. While the excitement of everlasting love is thrilling, the reality that all human relationships come to an end is a harsh reality. As an attorney, understanding and addressing this reality is essential in guiding individuals through the complexities of planning for the future.

Love is wonderful—joyful moments, shared dreams for the future, and yes, some legal considerations too. In the realm of estate planning, the end of a relationship—whether by death or divorce—is not a matter of “if,” but “when.” Sadly, every relationship eventually will come to an end. When that happens, the most important thing is how you have planned for that ending. Your planning (or lack thereof) will impact you, your loved ones, your children, your family, and your assets. Recognizing this fundamental truth empowers individuals to take proactive steps to protect their assets, ensure the well-being of loved ones, and leave a legacy that reflects their values and wishes.

Some Things are Certain

As many of you know, I have had the experience of losing a spouse. I have walked that path and know well how life-shattering the emotional and financial realities of that loss can be. During this emotionally challenging time, estate planning serves as a compass, providing clarity and guidance amidst grief. From wills and trusts to advance directives and powers of attorney, thoughtful planning allows individuals to outline their healthcare preferences with precision and care, dictate the distribution of their assets, nominate guardians for minor children, and care for those they leave behind. For married couples, the law in the state where you reside at the time of death has a “default plan” that you fall into IF you have not done your own estate planning. That’s right! Your legislators have chosen a default plan you will fall into if you have not made your own legally effective plan. That default plan set up by your state legislators may or may not align with your personal preferences or the life you’ve built with your loved ones.

The Silver Lining: Protecting Your Property and Legacy

The silver lining? While we can’t prevent the end of relationships, we can prepare for it with compassion and strategic planning, which helps make the end the best possible foundation for a new beginning.

No matter who you are and how much you have or don’t have, the absence of a plan could leave you and your loved ones vulnerable. You can risk losing assets or being unable to make crucial decisions about your property, your business, your children, or your medical choices. Ownership rights of your family can be disrupted without clear, legally effective planning documents. Make sure your home is left in the hands of those you choose in the event of your death. Don’t leave your family of origin in dispute with the family you have chosen to do life with. Any business you own, including businesses owned with your partner, could be jeopardized without clear, legally effective planning and instructions. Don’t leave your loved ones in the position of finding themselves facing homelessness or significant financial loss without a rightful claim to the wealth you have worked for together.

In the unfortunate event of a medical emergency where one partner becomes incapacitated, lacking appropriate legal documentation could impede the other partner’s ability to make critical healthcare decisions on their behalf. This can lead to delays in medical treatment or disagreements among family members over the person’s treatment, causing unnecessary stress and complications during an already challenging time.

For couples with children, failing to establish guardianship arrangements in the event of both parent’s incapacity or death can have devastating consequences. Without a designated guardian, children may be placed in the care of individuals who may not align with your wishes or values, leading to potential custody battles and emotional upheaval for the children and your extended family. If you and your partner end your relationship without mutually agreeing on who may be a guardian for your children, things could get even more chaotic—especially if one of you has documented your desired guardian and the other partner hasn’t. Worst of all, typical wills don’t adequately plan for the needs of minor children. That’s why I offer the Children’s Protection Plan, specifically designed to ensure your children are never raised by anyone other than people you know, love, and trust and are never taken from your home into the care of strangers.

In each of the scenarios above, the absence of proactive estate planning measures leaves individuals vulnerable to legal and financial uncertainties. By taking proactive steps that consider what will happen when your relationship ends, couples can safeguard their assets, ensure their wishes are honored, and provide peace of mind for themselves and their loved ones.

My Role as Your Attorney

In the journey of life, relationships ebb and flow, but their endings are an inevitable part of the human experience. Through estate planning, individuals can confront the reality of death and divorce with grace and foresight, ensuring their legacy endures long after they are gone. As an estate planning attorney, I am dedicated to helping individuals chart a course that honors their past, protects their present, and safeguards their future. One of the best parts of my role is that it extends far beyond the legal realm—it is rooted in empathy, understanding, and a commitment to helping individuals navigate the what-ifs and complexities of the future.

Ready to get the conversation started? Give Cris Carter Law a call today.

Old-Fashioned Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Sweet, tangy, and oh-so-deliciously tempting, this dessert is the perfect ending to a meal (or a delicious start to the day with coffee!).



  • 2 pounds rhubarb stalks, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a bowl, toss the rhubarb with 3/4 cup of the sugar and let stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In another bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rhubarb to the strawberries; discard any rhubarb juice. Add the cornstarch, lemon juice, and vanilla to the fruit and stir well.
Transfer the mixture to a 9- x 13-inch glass baking dish.

3. For the topping, combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, mix the ingredients together until large crumbs form.

4. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and continue baking for about 30 minutes longer, until the fruit filling is bubbling and the topping is nicely browned.

5. Let the crisp rest for 10 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

6. Enjoy!
Food And Wine: Old-Fashioned Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Empowering Happiness

In the chaotic rhythm of our everyday lives, finding equilibrium between work, personal life, and self-care is pivotal for well-being. What a challenge it is to maintain your journey toward a healthier, happier life by prioritizing self-care habits, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, while ensuring your physical and mental health. And let’s not forget the importance of nurturing social connections. Research has proven time and time again that quality relationships are the heart of happiness and mental well-being.

As we navigate the intricacies of our own personal well-being, it’s equally important to shift our focus toward the future, contemplating the legacy we want to leave behind. Enter the subject of estate planning – a profound investment that truly transcends financial considerations. I want to share with you a few compelling reasons to prioritize this essential aspect of life:

  1. Safeguarding Your Loved Ones: Estate planning ensures that your assets are dispersed according to your wishes. Imagine the peace of mind that comes with knowing your loved ones will be financially secure and your legacy will endure.
  2. Mitigating Family Conflicts: A meticulously designed estate plan acts as a safeguard against potential disputes among family members. The clarity it provides in asset distribution diminishes the probability of conflicts, particularly during an already emotionally charged period.
  3. Empowering Your Legacy: Beyond material possessions, estate planning allows you to sculpt your legacy. Contemplate charitable contributions or the establishment of trusts supporting causes that are close to your heart. This empowers you to make a lasting impact on the community, shaping a legacy that transcends generations.
  4. Adapting to Life Changes: Acknowledge the dynamism of life and its ever-changing circumstances. Estate planning, when approached with foresight, offers flexibility. Regular reviews and updates ensure your plan aligns with evolving goals, family dynamics, and financial situations.
  5. Financial Efficiency: Beyond asset transfer, estate planning plays a pivotal role in minimizing financial hardship on your loved ones after you have passed. A well-crafted plan can also potentially reduce the tax burden on your estate, leaving more for your loved ones and the causes you care about.

Empower yourself by recognizing that estate planning is not merely a financial task but a proactive step towards shaping your future and leaving a meaningful legacy. With careful consideration and foresight, this process not only benefits you but becomes a gift that resonates through generations. It can be a delicate dance between personal well-being and the legacy you choose to leave behind. Let Cris Carter Law help you navigate this life balance.

Herby Dutch Baby With Smoked Salmon

Take this classic breakfast dish for a spin with added herbs and smoked salmon. It is fast, fresh, and downright beautiful!


  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • ¾ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 (packed) cup baby spinach
  • ⅔ cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup tender herb leaves (such as dill, cilantro, basil, and/or parsley), plus more for serving
  • ⅔ cup (83 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
1. Place a rack in middle of oven and place a medium ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, on rack. Preheat oven to 425°. Place onion in a small bowl; squeeze in juice of ½ lemon and add a big pinch of salt; set aside. Slice remaining ½ lemon into wedges and set aside for serving.

2. Blend eggs and egg white in a blender on high speed until very frothy, about 1 minute. Add garlic, spinach, milk, and 1 cup herbs and blend on high speed until well combined and very green. Add flour, cornstarch, and ¾ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt and season with lots of pepper; blend to combine.

3. Carefully remove skillet from oven. Add butter to pan and swirl to coat bottom. Immediately pour batter into pan and bake pancake until puffed and brown around the edges, 20–25 minutes. (It will start to deflate as soon as it comes out of the oven, but don’t worry, that’s normal.)

4. Top Dutch baby with smoked salmon, onion, and more herbs; season with pepper. Serve with reserved lemon wedges for squeezing over.
Bon Appetit: Herby Dutch Baby with Smoked Salmon

Women Think Differently

Here’s the Scoop: Why, As Women, We Need to Plan

Ladies, whether we want to admit it or not, most of us, at some point, will find ourselves in an unforeseen situation with the rest of the family looking to us for direction. When this occasion arises, it is best to be prepared and have a plan laid out for whatever the circumstances are. I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with a woman left holding the bag after something happened to their spouse, parent, sibling, etc. This is why planning now could be the best gift you give to future-you.

  • Outliving Our Partners: Whether we like it or not, most women will outlive their partners. That means, ultimately, we will be making all the financial decisions. We need to be ready to take over when that happens, and, in the long run, it will benefit you to be proactive about it. The good news is we can begin together today. I encourage you to sit down and learn the various investments you have. Come up with a plan to provide a safe future for you and your loved ones, and ensure that you put in the effort and forethought now before you have to do it later.
  • Many Changes Occur When You Least Expect: Life can change from what you thought it would look like in the blink of an eye. Divorce, for example, is just one of those changes where friends say, “I never thought it would happen to me!” A sudden injury, disease, or disability are other changes that are hard to predict. When your life experiences change, your estate plan must also reflect these developments.
  • Health First: Health risks for women are much more likely to occur. Cancer and heart disease are equal opportunity risks. If your health declines, you will be thankful for a Healthcare Power of Attorney that sets forth your choices and specific directions. This is an easy step to take now that you will be highly grateful for later.
  • Modern Families: More than ever before, families today are blended families. Blended families can bring challenges and complexity because many moving parts and relationships must be considered. Thorough planning now will ensure that everyone is taken care of later, no matter what. If you die before your children’s step-parent, make sure your children still get what was important that you wanted them to have.
  • Likely Caregiver: Many of us will have no choice but to step up and become caregivers. This is an uncomfortable truth for many women regarding their spouses. Consider and plan for the possibility before it happens. Having this conversation now will also ease any tough decisions or discussions that will need to be had if the situation arises.
  • Boss Ladies: As you build your business, there are ways to protect yourself from the threat of liability. Now that you’re a Boss Lady let’s ensure your business legacy is secure and thriving by having the proper documents in order.
  • Single and Rocking It: Estate Plans aren’t just for married folks! If you are single and never tied the knot, it’s crucial to have an estate plan that lets those left behind know the choices you want made when you can’t make your own decisions and after you are gone. Your loved ones will thank you for making these decisions now, so they are not left guessing your wishes.

Estate planning is NOT a form you borrow from a friend. Estate planning is NOT taking chances with online services that warn this is “not legal advice” and “we are not your lawyer.” You are unique. Your family is unique. What you own and what you’ve built is unique. What you leave behind when you exit will be unique. Estate planning is about protecting you and your loved ones with a plan tailored to you and your life. Today is the day to start planning for your future and the probabilities and possibilities.

Let’s chat about crafting a unique plan for you and your legacy. Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your specific needs. You can call to schedule an appointment at 719-434-0000.

Paying It Forward: How to Build Your Legacy Through Mentoring

I can readily look back and see those people who have profoundly impacted my success, both as a child and as an adult. I had, and still have, teachers and mentors that helped me build my character and ultimately assisted me in becoming successful. I couldn’t have done it without them. I will forever be grateful!

Opportunities to mentor abound. Have you tried it? One of the ways that I give back now is through the youth group at my church. Every Wednesday evening, you will find me sitting on the floor in a room with 7th-grade girls. Why? Because I know how important having a mentor can be and I have an opportunity to play a role in the lives of these young women.

By investing time and effort in mentoring, you demonstrate the essence of leadership and envision a brighter future for the coming generations by actively nurturing and passing on knowledge to younger individuals.

Mentees benefit when they are encouraged to pursue their goals and work towards a brighter future. Not only does mentoring give you the opportunity to invest in the life of another person, but it can also provide you with a unique perspective on your life and a chance to create a lasting impact in the community. As you engage in the mentorship process, you’ll find yourself reflecting on your own goals, seeking to provide a valuable experience for those you mentor.

As an Estate Planning lawyer, I recognize that true success and satisfaction arise from building a legacy that reflects who you are and your values as a leader- both personally and professionally. I have adopted a heart-centered approach to help individuals define and build their estate plans and their legacies. To discover how I can assist you in achieving your vision, schedule a free 15-minute call to discuss your plans and dreams for your family and your future.

Lesson Learned? Or Not?

You probably read recently that Len Goodman, the long-time judge on “Dancing With the Stars,” died. Len was a sage in the world of dance and was known for his wry and witty humor. It’s too early to tell if he left his loved ones holding the bag or if he had his affairs in order. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people with the time and resources to plan well for the eventuality of their death and fail to have a plan in place.

We all know that we are definitely going to leave this world. We all know that having a plan in place is essential. It’s perplexing that so many people fail to have an estate plan in place or whose plan is outdated and won’t work for their family now.

Earlier this year, Stephen Laurel Boss, also known as “tWitch,” died. TWitch wasn’t familiar to me, but he was to millions of others who knew him as an American DJ, hip-hop dancer, choreographer, television producer, and actor whose personality lit up the stage on So You Think You Can Dance. He was also a producer and frequent guest host on The Ellen Degeneres Show and co-hosted the TV show Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings alongside his wife and fellow dancer, Allison Holkers.

tWitch and Allison shared a seemingly happy life together in Los Angeles, California, where they were raising their three children, ages 3, 7, and 14. Sadly, on December 13, 2022, tWitch died by suicide at the age of 40. His death came as a complete shock to loved ones who reported the star seemed happy in the weeks leading up to his death.

Boss died without a Will or Trust in place, meaning his wife, Allison Holker, has the task of petitioning the California court system to release Boss’ share of their assets to her. Allison, his widow, will need to wait months before she can formally take possession of the property her husband owned with her, as well as property held in his name alone, including his share of his production company, royalties, and his personal investment account.

Do you know how many people have plenty of notice of their death and fail to protect their families? Celebs and regular people like you and I just fail to do what it takes and leave their loved ones to handle details that they are ill-equipped to handle.

Unnecessary Court Involvement in a Time of Grief

Now, mind you, this happened in California. However, the process that one has to go through in most states is strikingly similar. In order to have access to her late husband’s assets, Allison, his widow, will have to make a public filing in the Probate Court by filing a petition, which asks the court to transfer ownership of a deceased spouse’s property to her as the surviving spouse. Hopefully, there will not be any difficulty in proving that they were legally married at the time of his death.

While the probate court has become more efficient in recent years, the court’s involvement nonetheless delays a spouse’s ability to access the assets of a loved one that has passed – a hurdle no one wants to deal with in the wake of a devastating loss. In addition, the court probate process is entirely public, meaning that the specific assets that loved ones are trying to access are made part of the public record. When your financial affairs become part of the public record, they become available for anyone to discover.

This isn’t just a problem for the wealthy. Even if you own a modest estate at your death, your family will need to go through the probate court process to transfer ownership of your assets if you don’t have an estate plan in place.

How to Prevent This From Happening to Your Loved Ones

When someone dies without an estate plan in place, the probate court’s involvement can be a lengthy and public affair. At a minimum, in Colorado, you can expect the probate process to last at least six months and oftentimes as long as eighteen months or more. How long it will take depends on many variables that we cannot necessarily predict before death. The sad part is that court involvement can be completely avoided IF the couple had created a revocable living trust to hold their family’s assets. If they had, the widow would have had immediate access to all of the couple’s assets upon death, eliminating the need to petition a court or wait for its approval before accessing the funds that rightly belong to her.

A Trust would have also kept the family’s finances private. With a Trust, only the person in charge of managing the Trust assets (the Trustee) and the Trust’s direct beneficiaries need to know how the assets in a Trust are used. There is also no court-imposed timeline on the Trustee for taking care of your final matters (with the exception of some tax elections), so your family can move at the pace that’s right for them when the time comes to put your final affairs in order.

The privacy that a trust provides also helps to eliminate potential family conflict because only the parties directly involved in the Trust will know what the Trust says. If issues between family members arise over the contents of the Trust, the Trust will lay out all of your wishes in detail so that all family members are on the same page and understand your wishes for the ones you’ve left behind.

Guidance for You and the Ones You Love

When you create a revocable living Trust at our firm, we ensure your loved ones have someone to turn to for guidance and support during times of uncertainty. No one expects the sudden loss of a loved one, but when it happens, your world is shaken. Even the simplest tasks can feel overwhelming, let alone the work involved in wrapping up a loved one’s affairs.

That’s why we welcome you to meet with us to discuss your wishes for when you die or if you become incapacitated. If you’re ready to start the estate planning process, contact us today for a complimentary 15-minute discovery call.

Estate Planning Before You Travel: Why It’s Critically Important

Vacations can be the perfect opportunity to relax, disconnect from work and responsibilities, and enjoy your spouse, partner, kids, or friend’s company. But before you head off on your next getaway, there’s something else you should consider doing that might not sound quite as fun—creating an estate plan. While it may not sound like the most exciting way to spend a day, here are some reasons why you need to think about your estate plans before you travel.

  • An estate plan ensures that your minor children will be placed with the person you choose in the event that you and your spouse have a medical emergency while on vacation. Do not risk your children being placed in the foster care system based on the laws of the state in which you are traveling.
  • An estate plan ensures any medical decisions needed while away from home will be handled according to your wishes and with as much ease as possible, no matter where in the world you are when something happens. If you fall ill or become injured and can’t make medical decisions for yourself, your estate plan will ensure that decisions will be made by the person you choose and with your indicated desires for your care at the forefront.
  • Without an estate plan in place, your family or friends could have a heavy lift to get you back home, locate your assets, keep your bills paid, and even ensure your children get taken care of by the right people in the right way.
  • Lastly, an estate plan ensures that any debts or liabilities are taken care of properly in case something happens while on vacation. This can help prevent creditors from trying to collect from surviving family members after the fact — something no one wants to deal with during such a difficult time.

Yes, Even Married Couples Need an Estate Plan

You might think that because you are married, you don’t need an estate plan. Or you might even think your Will is enough and would just handle everything. But that’s generally not the case.

Even if you are married, you still need medical powers of attorney, making it clear that you want your spouse making medical decisions for you and  adding in additional decision-makers. You still want a Living Will to give clarity on how you want medical decisions made for you.

Finally, if you have dependent children, you want to ensure you’ve made it as easy as possible for their care to be continued by the people you want, in the way you want. Without a plan in place, decisions around their care could be tied up for months, including access to the financial assets their caregivers would need to ensure they have what they need along the way.

The Benefits of Working With an Attorney

While you can create an estate plan without legal assistance, there are serious risks to the people you love if your plan is not completed, not updated after it’s been done once, or not completed properly. The only real guarantee for the people you love to have as much ease as possible is if you work with an experienced attorney specializing in estate planning, particularly Life & Legacy Planning. As an Estate Planning Law Firm, we understand what needs to go into a thorough and complete estate plan — as well as the potential pitfalls or issues that could arise due to your unique personal and family dynamics — so you can rest assured knowing everything is being taken care of properly before you embark on your trip.

At Cris Carter Law, LLC, we can advise you on other important documents such as Wills, Trusts, powers of attorney (POA), health care directives (HCD), and guardianship paperwork (for minor children) so you can make informed decisions based on what you want to have happen if you become incapacitated or die. All these items should be considered when creating an effective estate plan — especially when one or both parties will be traveling outside their home country at any point.

Don’t Let a Lack of Planning Dampen Your Vacation Spirits!

Taking a few simple yet critically important steps now can save you and your family considerable headaches down the road if anything were ever to happen while on the road—not only do we want you to enjoy each moment spent together, but we want peace of mind knowing that whatever comes your way is handled according to your wishes!

We can help put a plan together now so that you don’t forget about this important task before packing up for your next adventure. Making sure all your affairs are in order will ensure nothing stands in the way between you and enjoying time together! Contact us today to get started.