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The 9 Essential Steps to Estate Planning

While most people are aware that an estate plan is something they should have, many believe that simply creating a will or trust is all they need to secure their future. While these documents are indeed important, they are not catch-all solutions to all of the potential issues that can arise in the event of your incapacity or death. To ensure your future and family are protected, be sure to consider the following checklist when creating your estate plan.

  1. Draft a will: The backbone of your estate plan is your last will and testament. This document will allow you to provide instructions to your family on how you want your property to be distributed in the event of your death, as well as name beneficiaries and guardians to care for your minor children in your absence.
  2. Create a trust: Holding your assets in a living trust will allow you to ensure they are smoothly transferred to your chosen beneficiaries at the time of your passing rather than being collected and distributed through probate, a notoriously expensive and frustrating process. Living trusts can be used to transfer real estate, savings accounts, mutual funds, and certain other investments to your beneficiaries with ease.
  3. Create health care directives: Advanced health care directives such as a “living will” allow you to provide instructions to medical personnel regarding the treatment you would like to receive in the event of your incapacity, such as whether or not you want to be put on life support.
  4. Create a financial power of attorney: Similar to a power of attorney for health care, a durable power of attorney for finances allows you to grant someone the power to handle your financial and property matters if you should become incapacitated.
  5. Protect your children’s inheritance: If you have minor children, you should name a trusted adult who will manage any property or money you leave to them until they are of age. This person may be the same as the guardian you have designated in your will.
  6. File beneficiary documents: Bank accounts, retirement plans, stocks, bonds, and brokerage accounts can be made to immediately transfer to a designated beneficiary and skip the probate process in the event of your death by filing beneficiary forms with their respective managing institutions.
  7. Consider purchasing life insurance: There is a possibility that you may owe significant debts or estate taxes when you pass away. If you have young children or own a home, purchasing a life insurance policy may be wise to protect them against these expenses.
  8. Make funeral arrangement: Document your wishes regarding organ and body donation as well as whether you want your body to be buried or cremated. Likewise, create a payable on death bank account with funds to be used to cover your funeral and burial expenses.
  9. Establish a business succession plan: If you own a business, be sure to consider its future in your absence. Creating a thorough succession plan or buyout agreement can help ensure control of your business is transferred to the appropriate parties in the event of your passing.

While nobody ever wants to entertain the thought of their own passing, it is an inevitability which must be planned for ahead of time. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, our Southern California estate and probate lawyers can provide the steadfast guidance you need to create a comprehensive estate plan with ease. From creating wills and trusts to establishing guardianships and more, we have what it takes to help you achieve peace of mind.

Call (855) 939-9111 or fill out an online form today to schedule your free phone consultation.

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