Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is not a complicated process. At A People’s Choice, we have successfully helped many California residents set up a trust, will, durable power of attorney, advanced healthcare directive, and other estate planning documentation. Proper estate planning can be helpful before and after one’s death. For example, good estate planning can avoid the necessity of a court conservatorship should a person become incompetent. Our clients have saved thousands of dollars by using our affordable legal document estate planning services. Being aware of simple and practical estate planning tips can save you money as well. Read on to learn more about practical and simple estate planning options.

Our Top 5 Practical and Simple Estate Planning Tips

By using the following practical and simple estate planning tips, you can reduce the stress most people have when thinking about end of life matters:

Tip 1: Keep Your Estate Simple and Practical

There is no need to over complicate your estate. The foundation of practical and simple estate planning is to clearly identify the contents of your estate and create the correct estate planning vehicle needed to transfer assets to beneficiaries upon your death. In this regard, it is always best to place the least amount of restrictions as possible in your trust, will, or healthcare directive.

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Tip 2: Simple Estate Planning With a Living Trust

One great tool for practical and simple estate planning is a revocable living trust. In a living trust, you designate yourself as the trustee to manage your estate during your lifetime. Upon your death, the trust assets are distributed to the designated beneficiaries. Creating a living trust also helps keep the content of your estate out of probate. This will save your loved ones time and money when distributing trust assets outside of court.

Tip 3: Fully Fund Your Living Trust

Create a fully funded living trust. A revocable living trust is a simple estate planning tool that allows you to deed your house and other assets to your trust. Your bank accounts and investment accounts should be held in the name of your trust. You will want to transfer most, if not all, of your assets to your trust. Some assets such as retirement accounts, may be better handled by designating a pay-on-death beneficiary.

Tip 4: Choose a Restatement of Trust Over an Amendment

Simple estate planning means your estate documents are easy to understand. Try and avoid amending your trust if possible. Multiple amendments often create confusion and can be difficult to sort through after a person has died. A trust amendment changes specific provisions of a revocable living trust. On the other hand, a trust restatement completely replaces and supersedes all the provisions of the original revocable living trust. A trust restatement is like a super amendment to your trust. In other words, a trust restatement creates a new revocable trust document, but does not change the name of the trust. If the trust is simply “amended” you may have to keep old trust documents to demonstrate what has been changed. With a trust restatement, all the old trust documents can be destroyed. The trust restatement acts as an entirely new document and contains all the provisions of the trust.

Tip 5: Consolidate Accounts

If possible, consolidate your trust assets. For example, cash savings bonds and CDs can be consolidated and put into a high yield money market account. Make sure that the accounts are in the name of the trust, however. The less accounts active upon your death, the easier it will be for your loved ones to receive trust assets. Review the FDIC limits on your accounts to make sure you have enough insurance coverage after consolidating. Keep a list of where your accounts are located and the associated account numbers. The more information you have easily accessible for your beneficiaries, the easier it will be for them to distribute the estate.

Estate planning does not have to be complicated. It is always best to “keep it simple”. Most people who make estate plans just want to make sure their estate avoids probate and their assets are properly distributed without hassle to their family, loved ones or charity of their choice. We hope you find the simple and practical estate planning tips above helpful. Contact A People’s Choice for more information about the legal document preparation services we provide. Should you wish to discuss how you can implement practical and simple estate planning tactics for your estate, please contact our office at 800-747-2780. You may be surprised at how easy it really is!

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