12-Point Checklist for your Estate Planning

The team at Estrada-Legal PC is aware that the hustle and bustle of life often leaves little time for individuals to make arrangements when Trust Administration issues arise. They also understand that in certain situations people become incapacitated or maybe the emotional stress of losing a loved one makes it difficult to handle all the legal matters.

The attorneys at Estrada-Legal PC are dedicated to making every legal aspect as easy for you as possible and that is why they offer 24 hour services. The team is also available to make at-home visits for clients in the Phoenix Metro area. The consultants of Estrada-Legal PC understand the importance of creating a legal game plan that fits into your schedule and are even available weeknights and weekends for at-home consulting. Call the legal offices of Estrada Legal-PC today to make an appointment at (602) 635-7414.

Here is a 12-Point Checklist for your Estate Planning:

1. Make a will.
In a will, you state who you want to inherit your property and name a guardian to care for your young children should something happen to you and the other parent.

2. Consider a trust.
If you hold your property in a living trust, your survivors won’t have to go through probate court, a time-consuming and expensive process.

3. Make health care directives.
Writing out your wishes for health care can protect you if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Health care directives include a health care declaration (“living will”) and a power of attorney for health care, which gives someone you choose the power to make decisions if you can’t. (In some states, these documents are combined into one, called an advance health care directive.)

4. Make a financial power of attorney.
With a durable power of attorney for finances, you can give a trusted person authority to handle your finances and property if you become incapacitated and unable to handle your own affairs. The person you name to handle your finances is called your agent or attorney-in-fact.

5. Protect your children’s property.
You should name an adult to manage any money and property your minor children may inherit from you. This can be the same person as the personal guardian you name in your will.

6. File beneficiary forms.
Naming a beneficiary for bank accounts and retirement plans makes the account automatically “payable on death” to your beneficiary and allows the funds to skip the probate process. Likewise, in almost all states, you can register your stocks, bonds, or brokerage accounts to transfer to your beneficiary upon your death.

7. Consider life insurance.
If you have young children or own a house, or you may owe significant debts or estate tax when you die, life insurance may be a good idea.

8. Understand estate taxes.
Most estates — more than 99.7% — won’t owe federal estate taxes. For deaths in 2013, the federal government will impose estate tax at your death only if your taxable estate is worth more than $5.25 million. Also, married couples can transfer up to twice the exempt amount tax-free, and all assets left to a spouse (as long as the spouse is a U.S. citizen) or tax-exempt charity is exempt from the tax.

9. Cover funeral expenses.
Rather than a funeral prepayment plan, which may be unreliable, you can set up a payable-on-death account at your bank and deposit funds into it to pay for your funeral and related expenses.

10. Make final arrangements.
Make your wishes known regarding organ and body donation and disposition of your body — burial or cremation.

11. Protect your business.
If you’re the sole owner of a business, you should have a succession plan. If you own a business with others, you should have a buyout agreement.

12. Store your documents.
Your attorney-in-fact and/or your executor (the person you choose in your will to administer your property after you die) may need access to the following documents:

  • will
  • trusts
  • insurance policies
  • real estate deeds
  • certificates for stocks, bonds, annuities
  • information on bank accounts, mutual funds, and safe deposit boxes
  • information on retirement plans, 401(k) accounts, or IRAs

Giancarlo Estrada

Giancarlo Estrada, founding attorney of the firm, completed his under-graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science. Giancarlo received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Notre Dame School of Law in South Bend, Indiana, before completing his Master of Laws in Taxation at the University of San Diego in San Diego, California.

Giancarlo is licensed in both California and Arizona and involved in the following professional organizations:

  • State Bar of Arizona, Probate and Trust Section
  • Maricopa County Bar Association
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association

Giancarlo’s major areas of practice include small business counsel and estate planning, including formations, wills, trusts and other related areas of law.

About Estrada Legal, PC

Estrada Legal, PC is located in Phoenix, AZ and offers legal services in Phoenix Estate Planning, Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts, Wills, Probate, Asset Protection, and more. Giancarlo Estrada of the firm is licensed in both Arizona and California and is affiliated with the State Bar of Arizona (Probate and Trusts Section), Maricopa County Bar Association, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association. The firm offers services tailored to fit the needs of each of their clients.