Estate Planning Checklist for 2020

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2020 | estate planning


If you have not yet gotten started preparing estate plans, or if you have not updated your already-existing estate plans in recent years, now is the perfect time to do so. There are some basic things to consider as you begin (or update) your estate plans. Prior to your meeting with your estate planning attorney, it is a good idea to consider your goals and figure out what you want to accomplish with estate planning.

The California estate planning attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver can help you with your estate planning needs. Our attorneys have many years of experience with handling all different kinds of estate planning matters, from the initial preparation of estate plans to estate-related litigation. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to meet with one of our attorneys and learn more about how to get started with estate planning.

Before You Begin Estate Planning – A Checklist

There are a few things you will want to take care of before heading into your estate planning attorney’s office. These include the following:

  • Make a list of all of your assetsIt is important to compile a list of all of your assets before you begin making your estate plans. This way, you will be able to account for everything in your plans and will not leave your beneficiaries with confusion over what to do about the assets that were not included in your estate planning.

  • Consider potential risks – You should also take time to consider any potential risks so that you can address them during the estate planning process. For example, if you plan to have your spouse as your beneficiary, what would you want to happen if you ended up getting divorced? What if you become mentally incapacitated? You may want to designate someone to have power of attorney to make important decisions on your behalf. This can be done with your estate plans.

  • Have a General Plan in Mind – Before meeting with your attorney, you should also have a general plan in your mind as to how to you want to proceed with estate planning. This general plan should include choosing your beneficiaries, including any charities you wish to have some (or all) of your assets go to upon your death, and also who you would like to designate as the executor of your will or the trustee for your trust. These roles are important, as those chosen will have quite a lot of responsibility, so you will want to choose people for these roles that you know you can depend on.

  • If you have children, decide who you would like to become their guardian/s if you pass away while they are still minors – Depending on what stage in life you are in when you begin planning your estate, this checklist item may or may not apply to you. However, this is a very important consideration if you have minor children since you will want to make sure that they are well-taken care of if something unexpected happens.

  • Consider a Power of Attorney – Another thing to think about before your meeting with your estate planning attorney is whether you want to include power of attorney documents in your estate plans. You can opt to designate someone to have power of attorney in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself. You can also decide the exact terms of when and how it is used, giving the person you designate significant decision-making authority, or choose to make it more limited.

  • Consider an Advance Medical Directive and What You Want to Include in It – An advance medical directive is a document that sets forth how you want certain medical decisions handled in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make those decisions for yourself. Before you have this document prepared by your attorney, you should take the time to think through exactly what you want to include in your advance medical directive. One major decision is whether or not you want extraordinary measures taken to prolong your life – such as a life support machine. You can include specifics in this document as well, such as whether or not you want feeding tubes to be used or whether or not you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops. Another decision you can make using this document is whether or not you want your organs donated upon your death. You can also be specific here, as well.

Contact us today at Galanti and Copenhaver at 707-538-4711 or fill out our online contact form to get started with your estate planning.