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Five Steps to Estate Planning

Estate planning is a very beneficial step for all of us to take in our lives. In order to begin your planning for the future, think of these five steps to get you started.

1. Understand Your Family. Before you can begin allocating assets and dividing your estate, you need to sit down and plan who you will leave items to. Think of children, living parents, a spouse, former spouse, children from previous marriages, extended family members, close friends, or business associates. Who will be receiving a piece of your estate, even if it is only one or two items? Have you promised Uncle Bill your collection of baseball cards? Does your first child have dibs on your antique car?

Also consider who will assume control of your estate should you become impaired. Think long and hard about who you can trust in your family, and also who is smart enough to make the correct decisions when you cannot. Your brother might be trustworthy, but is he wise in decision-making? Keep these things in mind when considering who to give power over your estate.

2. Review Existing Documents. Have you already created a will, trust, or estate planning document? Review the document and consider what needs to be updated. Have you since been slated for an inheritance? Make sure to review and update what sections need updating of any existing documents you have.

3. Compile a List of Assets. This step may take some time. First list all tangible items you possess—home(s), car(s), furniture, antique items, and collectibles you may have. Next think of any intangible items you may have—time shares, 401(k), retirement plans, coming inheritances, stocks and bonds, and financial investments. Last, list your monetary possessions—bank accounts and amount of money in them. Make sure your list is complete and detailed.

4. Develop a Plan. With help from an estate lawyer, plan who will take control of your estate, whether to develop a will or living trust, who will execute the will, who will make financial and medical decisions for you, how and when your assets will be distributed, and so on. Your estate lawyer knows what questions need to be answered and can guide you through this step of the process.

5. Plan for the possibility of Medi-Cal Benefits. Again, your estate lawyer can help answer any questions you have about applying for Medi-Cal, but the benefits of this service is something you should consider. In the event that you require professional medical assistance or are moved into a nursing home, Medi-Cal can help offset the cost of treatments.

Preparing for your future doesn’t have to be complicated. Rather than fearing a long process of planning, follow the above steps and employ the help of an experienced, qualified estate lawyer to guide you.

If you would like more information concerning estate planning, contact Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln (TVT) at (661) 426-2499 or visit their website at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for estate planning solutions through wills and revocable trusts. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand.

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