Estate Planning spelled out with wooden blocks

Estate Planning Checklist: Things to Consider Before You Start

Law Office of Robert L. Firth Jan. 13, 2022

While making end-of-life decisions may not be the most pleasant topic, almost everyone understands the importance of estate planning. However, not everyone knows how to create an estate plan properly.

There are certain factors you need to consider before you start creating estate planning documents. At the Law Office of Robert L. Firth, we are committed to helping residents of Cathedral City, California, and surrounding areas create estate plans tailored to their needs and addressing their specific circumstances.

What is Estate Planning?

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning involves more than just writing a last will and testament. An estate plan encompasses a wide range of documents designed to protect your assets, legacy, and family. Estate planning can document your wishes regarding the distribution of assets, end-of-life care, financial decisions upon incapacity, and more.

Essentially, estate planning has everything to do with planning for what will happen to your property when you are gone and who will make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make them yourself. The process of establishing an estate plan is not an easy one, which is why you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as your very first step.

What Should I Consider Before I Draft an Estate Plan?

Creating an estate plan requires you to consider a number of elements. The following are the things to take into consideration when drafting your plan:

  • Determine what you want to achieve. You need to identify the goals you want your estate plan to achieve. Consider both short- and long-term goals. Ask yourself, “How can I benefit from an estate plan?” and “How can I make my estate plan work for me?

  • List your assets. It is equally important to identify all of your assets and valuable items that you need to protect with your estate plan. Make sure that you do not leave anything out.

  • Identify your debts. Many people forget about their debts when establishing an estate plan. However, you need to make a list of debts, credit cards, and other obligations you currently have to fully understand your financial situation.

  • Consider who you want your beneficiaries to be. A beneficiary is a recipient of your assets. For many people, the toughest part of creating an estate plan is figuring out who they want to inherit their assets upon their death.

  • Consider who you want to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. This is crucial if you are ever unable to make those decisions on your own. It is critical to appoint someone you trust to make sure that your financial and legal matters are in order.

  • Consider who you want to make medical decisions on your behalf. If you ever lose your capacity to make healthcare decisions on your own, another person will make those decisions for you. Having an estate plan allows you to specify your wishes regarding end-of-life care and appoint a person who would have the authority to make medical decisions if you become incapacitated.

  • Consider your preferences for the funeral and disposition of your remains. If you want your loved ones to know your preferences for the final arrangements, you can do so by communicating instructions regarding the burial, funeral, and disposition of your remains.

  • Consider whether you need to make special arrangements. If you have minor children, family members with special needs, or pets, you should make special arrangements when creating an estate plan.

  • Consider if you need to protect your business. Those who own a business may have one more thing to take care of when establishing an estate plan. You need to consider what will happen to your business if you become incapacitated or die. You may need a business succession plan in place.

These are not the only factors to consider during estate planning. Reach out to skilled legal counsel to discuss your particular situation.

Getting the Experienced Legal Support You Need

At the Law Office of Robert L. Firth, our compassionate and dedicated attorney offers legal guidance and support for those who are considering crafting an estate plan. We assist clients in Cathedral City, California, and surrounding areas with all aspects of estate planning, including drafting wills, creating trusts, administering estates, handling probate matters, and far more. We provide personalized service to each client in Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, and throughout the Coachella Valley. Discuss your unique case by reaching out to our office.