Many Americans have no estate plan or even a will—let alone a trust or any another arrangement that could keep their loved ones and assets out of court after they die. If you haven’t yet visited an estate planning attorney to create your own comprehensive estate-preservation strategy, there are steps you can take to protect your assets. You can begin by making a checklist about your overall estate.
Making Your Checklist
You don’t have to be a certain age to start planning what happens to your estate when you die. No matter whether you’re young and single, married, or nearing retirement, making a checklist of your assets and what you want to do with them is a first step in ensuring that your legacy is protected. You can:
- Make a list of your most valuable assets. This can include vehicles, real properties, bank accounts, and cash funds. Knowing what you own and how much it is worth is an important first step in the estate-planning process.
- Collect evidence of your asset-ownership. This can include gathering vehicle titles and deeds. You can use these documents as part of your estate plan: you might, for instance, enter into a joint-tenancy arrangement with your spouse or domestic partner, letting them inherit the family home tax-free after you die.
- Write a last will and testament. A will lets you name heirs and apportion your belongings. You can also use a will to grant an individual power of medical or financial attorney, in case you are ever hurt or seriously incapacitated.
- Consider whether you need a trust. Large or complex assets can benefit from the creation of a revocable living trust. You can transfer assets into a trust, such as a home or stocks portfolio, which can then be passed on your loved ones without the need for probate proceedings.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today
You do not need to have all of your documents together before contacting an estate planning attorney, nor must you have already completed a comprehensive estate plan. Your attorney can look over your checklist and your assets to determine an ideal strategy for protecting your estate and ensuring your legacy. The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. has decades of experience planning California estates. Send us a message online to schedule your initial consultation.