Getting started with estate planning

Southern Californians who own property may know that they want their loved ones to inherit their assets, but they may not know the best way to pass them on. Though wills are good for certain types of heirlooms, individuals in San Diego should determine whether it is best to create a will or a living trust fund, depending on what they own. This typically requires the assistance of an estate planning attorney.

Estate planning attorneys typically work with tax or financial advisors, who together can help people find ways to minimize either their own tax basis or the taxes that their beneficiaries will pay on property inherited through a trust. Before consulting with an estate planning attorney for the first time, it is a good idea to make a list of all assets that a person owns. This list should include intangible assets, such as retirement accounts or business ownership.

People with children should think about the needs of their family members based on their own income and level of dependency. For instance, it is typically a good idea to buy a life insurance policy to help any young dependents or spouses. Parents should also name a guardian for their children to ensure that the court will not appoint one for them if the parents pass away unexpectedly.

Individuals should also consider who they want to appoint to help execute their will or trust, and they should decide whether to give someone power of attorney in case they become incapacitated. If a person thinks that his or her trust may need to be changed or added to over time, it may make sense to create a revocable trust, which can be amended, as opposed to an irrevocable trust. An estate planning attorney can help clients discuss their options and assess the pros and cons of different types of estate plans.