Many California residents haven’t even completed a basic will, let alone set up other estate planning documents like powers of attorney or trusts. If you have some assets and a family, you may want to start thinking about your estate plan. Here are a few of the basic things you can do.
#1: Dictate how you want your assets distributed
Your estate plan is essentially a set of instructions for how you want your assets distributed to your beneficiaries after your death. You can leave these instructions in your will and use other estate planning tools as well. If you have a large or complex estate, you may want to set up a trust to help distribute your assets in specific ways.
It’s also important to remember the role that beneficiary designations play in distributing your assets. The beneficiary designations that you list on financial accounts generally override what’s written down in a will. You may also use strategic gifting during your lifetime to distribute some of your assets in a way that is more tax efficient.
#2: Designate guardians for minor children
If you are a parent of minor children, writing a will is a crucial first step in your estate planning. You can name a guardian for your children in your will, just in case anything happens to you and your spouse. You may also decide to set up a trust fund for your children to help with their financial security should anything happen to you.
#3: Set up powers of attorney
Estate planning is not only about taking care of your loved ones. It’s also about taking care of you. Financial and health care powers of attorney designate people to make decisions for you if you ever become incapacitated. While you are planning your estate, you should start thinking about who you can trust in such a position.