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The Elder and Disability Law Firm, APC Feb. 22, 2019

California residents can benefit from estate planning even if they don't consider themselves to be wealthy. Not having an estate plan could leave assets in limbo, and it could cost money currently earmarked for beneficiaries to determine how they should be distributed. One of the first steps to creating an estate plan is to make use of beneficiary designations on assets such as bank accounts or retirement plans.

The use of a beneficiary designation may be ideal for those who are looking for ways to avoid probate. Another option to take assets out of an estate is to create a trust. A qualified personal residence trust may make it possible to take both a home and cash out of the estate in a timely manner. This is because the homeowner will pay rent to a beneficiary who will receive the property when the current owner passes.

A charitable remainder trust can make it easier to give money to charity while still generating an income while alive. The trust works by purchasing an insurance policy equal to the amount that a person would like to give. The beneficiary on the policy receives any income it generates, and whatever is left when that person passes is given to a specified charity.

For some, estate planning means creating a will to distribute a few assets after passing. In some cases, it may involve other documents as well. An attorney may be able to work with an individual to determine his or her estate planning needs and how to meet them. This could involve making new documents or reviewing those that currently exist.

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