Contrary to popular belief you do not need to be wealthy or own a vast estate to benefit from estate planning. Any person who has property that they wish to leave to loved ones should spend time crafting a valid estate plan that ensures their assets are given to those closest to them.  Unfortunately, estate planning is not always easy, especially if you have limited experience with long-term financial planning or are unfamiliar with California probate laws. While it is always a good idea to consult an experienced estate planning attorney before finalizing your documents, there are three vital estate planning steps that will help you get started.

List ALL of Your Assets

The first thing you should do when you begin planning how to dispose of your estate is make a list of all your assets. Remember, assets are not limited to cash or real estate. List your bank accounts, life insurance policies, cryptocurrency balances, and personal property. Creating a list will help you get an idea of exactly what needs to be included in your will and reduces the chances of valuable property being omitted or not bequeathed properly. When listing personal property, it is always a good idea to give a detailed description of the property so that there is no confusion among your heirs regarding what property you are referring to.

Check Life Insurance Beneficiaries

Life insurance plays a large role in the estate plans of most adults. However, many make the mistake of believing that what they state in their will influences how their insurance company will distribute life insurance in the future. If you do not update your life insurance beneficiaries to be those later named in your will, then the person who was previously named will receive the funds. It is not unheard of for an ex-spouse or estranged child to receive a large insurance payout because the policy holder forgot to change the beneficiary to their current spouse or other relatives.

Remember Your Health

An estate plan should also include provisions for how you wish to be taken care of should you fall ill or become incapacitated. Determine who you would like to name on a healthcare power of attorney since this person will be responsible for making decisions regarding your medical treatment. Document if you would like your life to be prolonged through artificial means or if you wish to donate your organs. While those things are difficult to document, it is best to make sure your loved ones have no questions regarding your health related wishes.

Schedule a Consultation

Estate planning can be overwhelming, but it is not something that you must do alone. The legal team at MMZ Law is here to answer your questions and help put your mind at ease. We can aid you with every aspect of your planning including creating power of attorneys or living trusts. If you have created a will in the past, we can review it with you to make sure it complies with California law and accurately reflects your current wishes. Contact our conveniently located Claremont, California office today to schedule an appointment.




341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.