California residents may support their family’s financial well-being by engaging in thoughtful estate planning. Kiplinger explains that it is never too early to start creating your estate plan.

Our firm helps people create comprehensive plans that protect their families while taking into account estate and income tax consequences.

Consider your assets and goals

First, pull together key financial and personal documents. Develop a list of all your assets, including real estate, accounts, personal property and insurance policies. Also, take note of any liabilities.

Next, think about your estate plan objectives, including tax planning goals and the needs of minor children. Consider who should inherit your assets. You may name beneficiaries for your insurance policies or retirement accounts, and your will may direct distribution of other assets.

Avoid probate with trusts

Forming a trust may allow your heirs to inherit your assets without going through lengthy, expensive and public probate.

If you establish a revocable living trust, you retain control of your assets and can even sell them during your lifetime. Avoiding probate is the primary benefit of a revocable trust. There are no tax benefits, as trust income is taxable to the grantor.

An irrevocable trust may help you gift assets and reduce your taxable estate. However, you lose control of your assets. An irrevocable trust may be simple or complex. In a simple trust, beneficiaries must take taxable distributions of interest and income. A complex trust may provide the option to make taxable distributions of interest and income to beneficiaries or, alternatively, to retain income and earnings taxable at trust income tax rates.

Review your plan from time to time and update it to respond to changing life circumstances. Our website has further information about the intricacies of estate planning.