Estate Planning Checklist

June 25, 2019 — by John Conger
Tags: Estate Planning Living Wills

Lawyer going over a living willAs we get older, it’s common to think about our lives and what we hope to leave behind for our family and loved ones. Yet many people don’t know where to start when it comes to practical matters regarding a spouse or children receiving assets when they pass away. The attorneys of Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP can help with willis, trusts, and other estate planning matters, offering answers and insight when you feel in the dark.

The team at our Stockton, CA law firm has a brief checklist of what should be considered when planning your estate. Keep in mind that this is just an overview, and that the particulars will vary from person to person.

Wills and Trusts

A will is an essential part of any estate plan. Wills allow a person to state where assets should be distributed and how affairs will be handled upon death. For instance, a will may specify who receives your property, names an executor to your estate, and names a guardian for your children not yet of adult age, and so forth.

Trusts, on the other hand, allow a person to specify a third party to handle their assets for their beneficiaries. Trusts are a good option for people with a large estate and/or many beneficiaries.

Power of Attorney

If you even become incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your own affairs, it’s important to have someone you trust who can do that for you. This is why it’s important to draft a durable power of attorney (POA) and healthcare power of attorney (HCPA). This allows you to exercise some control over your estate through a trusted party rather than relying on the court.

Beneficiary Designations

Designating a beneficiary for back accounts and retirement accounts upon death helps those assets transfer to the beneficiary. This allows heirs and loved ones to receive assets while avoiding the probate process.

Guardianship Designations

If you have children who are minors, you should also designate who will be the guardian of your child/children in the event of your death. By picking someone you trust and you know can offer a stable, loving home, you will help ensure the safety and sound upbringing of your child.

Letters of Intent for Executors and Beneficiaries

Letters of intent to your executor or to beneficiaries help layout what your wishes are regarding property and assets. While these letters of intent are not legally binding, they can be important documents if a legal dispute arises.

How Our Lawyers Can Help

The above checklist only scratches the surface. Estate planning takes time and know-how, and the ability to anticipate circumstances and amend your wishes as needed. This is why it’s so important to consider speaking with a lawyer familiar with estate planning matters.

We will help you draft documents and review them to ensure your wishes are made clear. We can also offer advice on who to name as an executor or guardian, and what you should keep in mind when determining beneficiaries and their share of assets. We want to make sure that your best interests and the best interests of your beneficiaries are noted.

Contact Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP

If you would like more information about estate planning and other practical matters related to wills and trusts, we encourage you to contact our team of attorneys. The lawyers of Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP can be reached in Stockton and Walnut Creek at (209) 477-8171.