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Estate planning: not just for the rich and famous

It's a fact that few California residents want to contemplate, yet the inevitability of death is something we must all eventually face. While an individual isn't able to control many of the circumstances related to death, they can take steps to manage what happens to their assets.

A comprehensive estate plan can help ensure that an individual's wishes are carried out upon their death with regard to division of property, distribution of personal belongs and inheritance matters. Too often, however, individuals fail to take the steps necessary to draft a will or set up a trust.

In many cases, people wrongly believe that an estate plan is something only individuals of considerable wealth need. There's an assumption that assets such as a home or personal assets contained in a bank account will simply pass to a surviving spouse or surviving children. This assumption, however, is not necessarily correct.

When an individual fails to set up key estate planning documents, assets and property often get hung up in the lengthy probate process. What's more, in-fighting amongst children and other relatives over such matters can create even more problems and hard feelings. These issues, however, can be largely avoided if an individual takes the imitative to plan for end of life matters.

While the process of estate planning can seem overwhelming, an estate planning legal professional can be an invaluable resource. An estate planning attorney can help set up both a will and trusts and account for the division of property and sentimental belongings. The best time to get started with estate planning is now.

Source: Ventura County Star, "Using the 'Four Ps' of estate planning," Juan C. Ros, Feb. 16, 2013

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