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Your Essential Estate Planning Checklist

Intimidated by estate planning? You aren't the only one. In fact, many Americans put off estate planning because the entire process makes them nervous. If you are entering the planning phases of your estate, it is essential that you gather these materials ahead of time:

1. Goals

In order to create an estate plan, you need to understand what you want. What do you want your estate plan to do? Are you trying to provide for your children in years to come? Are you trying to ensure that your long-time partner is taken care of? Are you worried about your business?

2. Consider Your Assets

Accurately assessing your estate is essential. Have you considered every piece of real estate, each investment, and even those family heirlooms you hold dearly? Have you taken into account your life insurance policy? What about your debts?

3. A Will

A will is the most well-known part of the estate plan. A will should definitely be part of your estate planning checklist. Writing a will is often easier when you have a good template, but there are steps you must take to ensure that your document is legal.

4. A Trust

If you have assets that would otherwise be subject to probate, you may consider establishing a trust. It is easy to make a mistake in establishing a trust, so consulting with an estate attorney may be in your best interest.

5. Health Care Directive

Establishing power of attorney and establishing a health care directive is essential for providing instructions in case you are unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself.

6. Executor

The executor of your estate acts as a representative on your behalf. Many people prefer to hire somebody who is not a family member to act as executor, but there are some who opt to choose a close relative. The most important thing is that you choose somebody you trust.

It is wise to review your estate plan at least once every four years, or after you are married, are divorced, or experience a significant change in family structure. Do you still have questions about planning your estate? Contact us to better understand your needs.

Categories: Estate Planning
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Law Offices of James C. Shields - Torrance Bankruptcy & Estate Planning Attorney
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