In my time as an estate-planning attorney in Orange County, I’ve discovered that many people do not develop a necessary estate plan simply because they think it is too complicated. This is an understandable perception, and some of the topics may be uncomfortable or even painful to talk about to the full extent necessary. However, avoiding these critical discussions can make things much more difficult for you and your family in the long run.
Of course, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when addressing the topic of wills and trust, especially if you don’t really know where to get started. However, this process is not as challenging as you may think! Just like planning for many other future goals, all it takes to be successful is an organized strategy that breaks the entire process down into a simple step by step checklist.
Conveniently, Go Banking Rates recently laid out a simple 10-step plan to help you identify goals and kick start your estate planning process:
- Appoint a general power of attorney so someone you trust can manage your financial and legal decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so. OC Elder Law’s document library can assist you in this process.
- Designate a durable healthcare power of attorney for medical decisions as well so someone can help you take care of your medical needs and enact an end-of-life care plan if necessary.
- Create a living will so doctors and hospitals will have on record what medical procedures and/or care you want to receive if you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions.
- Write out a complete will to ensure all of your final wishes will be carried out in the manner you see fit. This includes naming a guardian for any children and bequeathing any financial assets.
- Draft a living trust so your property does not have to go through the expensive and lengthy probate process and can instead be directly given to your heirs. However, to make the trust effective you must go through the process of actually transferring your assets to it, which may not be right for everyone.
- Write out funeral or memorial instructions for your final burial wishes. This should be in a separate document to ensure that your instructions are addressed in a timely manner, as opposed to being lost in the inevitable drawn-out shuffle of sorting through a will.
- List all of your accounts and important legal documents such as bank accounts and insurance policies. Also, make copies of estate planning documents, deeds, and titles for cars or other property. Store them in a secure place so family members can access your information easily if something happens to you.
- Plan for your pets to be cared for by someone you trust after you pass away. It’s also a good idea to choose back-up beneficiaries in case your first choice is for some reason unable to do so.
- Organize digital accounts for social media profiles and various digital information to ensure someone can access your digital accounts after you pass away.
- Review your plan every year to make sure it is comprehensive, up to date, and will still work with any future changes to laws around estate taxes and other estate planning issues.
Don’t leave your estate plan to chance! Contact us today to engage with an experienced estate planning attorney in Orange County that will guide you through each step of the process. You’ll be relieved that you did!
Click here for your free printable estate planning checklist: Download Estate Planning Checklist.pdf (304.2K)