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Tips to Help Get Your Estate Plan, Legal Affairs in Order


Last updated 10/2/2020 at 12:08pm

Death or incapacitation can creep up on anyone, and if you’re not prepared, the burden that falls on your family for handling your estate or financial affairs could be extremely heavy. Below are five tips to help you begin the process of getting your legal life in order with the goal of streamlining your affairs and making life as easy as possible for your loved ones if something happens.

1. Create a Basic Estate Plan

If you want to be absolutely certain that your wishes would be honored, your family would be protected and your assets would be managed and/or passed down in a responsible way if something happens to you, you need to create an estate plan. An attorney will help you determine which documents you need, but in most cases, a comprehensive plan consists of a Power of Attorney, Healthcare Directive, Last Will and Testament, Revocable Living Trust, and Disposition of Remains.

2. Check Your Beneficiary Designations

Make sure that your financial accounts and policies have beneficiaries named on them, and that the beneficiaries can receive the assets without going through a court proceeding. If you wish to pass down such accounts to underage beneficiaries, consider naming your trust as a beneficiary instead. If you don’t name any beneficiaries on your accounts, or if your beneficiaries predecease you, then those accounts will have to go into your probate estate, and it may be a long process before the estate is settled.

3. Make Sure Your Financial House Is in Order

Conduct reviews of all of your accounts to ensure that they’re titled correctly, you have the right beneficiaries named, and that there are no issues with any of your accounts or policies. You can work with an estate planning lawyer to set up a schedule of how often to review your accounts so you know they’re where you want them to be.

4. Take Steps to Protect Your Assets from Risk

There are numerous strategies you can use to protect your assets in the event of a lawsuit, creditor situation, divorce or if you need to enter into a long-term care facility. Annuity planning, irrevocable trusts, and other forms of asset protection planning are available, and you can discuss these with a qualified lawyer.

5. Let Your Loved Ones Know How to Find Your Documents

If you become incapacitated or pass away, it’s important that your loved ones can find and access your important documents. This will allow them to handle your financial affairs or settle your estate if needed. You may also want to leave a list of all your important passwords and online accounts, in case anything needs to be done with them in your absence.

If you would like to get more information about estate planning, or if you’d like to discuss your existing estate plan and how it matches up with your current situation, please set up an appointment at our law offices located throughout the state of California by calling 800-244-8814.

– Robert Galliano, Attorney at Law, Copenbarger & Copenbarger, LLP