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How to maximize assets left to heirs in an estate plan

Many people assume that they don’t need to have an estate plan, especially if they do not have a large amount of assets. This is inaccurate and may even prevent one’s assets from being distributed as intended. Even if a person here in California has potential heirs that may seem obvious to the estate owner, such as one’s own children, it is best to formally outline everything in a comprehensive estate plan. Here are several things for families to do in order to keep their assets within their family.

Having a will created is typically just the beginning of estate planning, but it is probably one of the most important aspects. When assets go through probate, if a person doesn’t have a will, it may reduce the amount that heirs end up inheriting. Aside from a will, many people own accounts that have inheritance instructions, like a retirement account. However, they may fail to name someone as the beneficiary, or not keep it updated. Both wills and accounts with beneficiaries need to be regularly updated.

In some cases, it may make sense for an estate owner to set up a trust. There are several different kinds, but overall, they can help those who have a large amount of assets or who have concerns about how the assets may be spent. Other changes a person may want to implement while still alive is changing a 401(k) retirement account into a Roth IRA, or even gifting assets ahead of time. These actions can help heirs avoid unnecessary tax payments.

All of these suggestions will be dependent upon an individual’s unique situation. The best way to know how to handle one’s personal estate plan is by working with an experienced attorney. An estate planning attorney here in California can help families determine what is right for them.

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