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What are the Steps for Estate Planning?

Estate planning can be an uncomfortable topic to address; however, it should not be ignored.

Every adult should have an estate plan. Whether your estate planning needs are relatively simple or extremely complex, you need a plan that is customized to your assets, family structure and your specific goals.

A properly created estate plan is necessary to ensure proper growth of your assets throughout your life, execution of your wishes in times of illness, and distribution of your estate after your passing.

A good estate plan details how to handle your investments, insurance, retirement, disability, and other assets while you are alive and after your death. It can bring peace of mind to your family and loved ones, and help keep you on track to reach your financial life goals.

There are twelve points to keep in mind while estate planning:

  1. Make a will – State who you want to inherit your property. If you have children – in the event something happens to you – who will be your children’s guardian.
  2. Consider a trust – No hassles in probate court for your beneficiaries.
  3. Health care directives – If you become unable to make your own decisions regarding your health, it is important to have someone to do so for you. These directives include a living will and a power of attorney for health care.
  4. Financial power of attorney – If you become incapacitated and unable to handle your own affairs, this person can handle all financial transactions for you.
  5. Your children – It is important to name an adult who can manage any money and/or property left as an inheritance for your minor children.
  6. File beneficiary forms – Name a beneficiary for your bank accounts and retirement plans. This process makes accounts automatically payable on death to your beneficiary.
  7. Life insurance – Something to consider when you have minor children, own a home and have significant debts that need to be paid.
  8. Final arrangements – Inform your family of your wishes regarding the disposition of your body, stating whether you want a burial or cremation. Do you want to donate body parts?
  9. Funeral expenses – Set up account to pay for funeral expenses.
  10. Estate taxes – The federal government imposes an estate tax upon your death, but only if your taxable estate is worth more than $5 million dollars.
  11. Your business – It is important to have a succession plan if you are the sole owner of a business.
  12. Storing your documents – Store important financial documents safely and securely for your attorney-in-fact and/or executor.

With guidance from an attorney who has an advanced understanding of estate law, you will be able to protect wealth, avoid probate, plan for incapacity, and enjoy peace of mind that your affairs are in order.

Contact the Family Law offices of Holstrom, Block & Parke – serving the San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange County areas.

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