Estate planning can seem like a daunting challenge to anyone who hasn’t started the process yet. For example, if you live in California there are a number of laws and tax issues you will need to take into consideration when you develop your estate plan. Just the thought of these complicated and difficult issues can lead many people to hesitate and not start planning at all.
Fortunately, you don’t need to make any big decisions if you want to get started with estate planning. There are several small steps you can take that will not only get you started on the right foot, but will also greatly assist your estate planning lawyer when you have your first meeting. Here’s what you can do.
Think about what you have.
Estate planning is about figuring out everything you have and what you want to happen to it as you age and after you die. The best way to start this process is to account for the things you own. This should include the big-ticket items, such as investment accounts and real estate, but also personal property and debts. Sitting down and making a list is often helpful simply because it gets you started thinking about what you own and what options you have. You estate planning attorney will likely have a form that you can use to organize and systematize your inventory.
Think about what you want.
Once you know what you have, next you will naturally think about what you want. Whether you want to increase your wealth significantly over the coming years, structure your retirement accounts to provide for security, or create mechanisms that will ensure your children receive adequate inheritances, all these questions relate to estate planning. When you and your lawyer have your first meeting, you will start the process of creating a plan that tries to accomplish as many of your goals as possible.
Only an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney will have the education, training and experience to properly guide you in planning that will address your assets, your concerns and your planning goals.