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The beginning of the New Year is always full of resolutions for many of us to make true improvements in our lives. The #1 resolution is to lose weight – but how about what weighs on many people’s minds at all times during the year…namely, money.

While we can’t help you get rich quick, there are some things you can do this year to take a lot of worry weight off your mind when it comes to your financial future and that of your family. Here are the second 5 of 10 estate planning resolutions for 2013:

Properly fund your revocable trust. If you have established a revocable trust but have not yet titled the assets you are placing in the trust, it is an empty shell and will not help you avoid probate.

Review/update beneficiary designations. In addition to correctly identifying beneficiaries for your IRAs, life insurance policies, retirement accounts and annuities, you need to be sure those designations are still valid. If one of your beneficiaries has died since you last updated your beneficiary forms, or if you have named a minor child who is not eligible to inherit until age 18, a court-appointed guardian will likely determine where your assets will go.

Plan for incapacity. In California, an Advance Health Care Directive should be used in conjunction with a Living Will to express your wishes on who you want to make health care decisions for you in case you become incapacitated. You should also execute a Durable Power of Attorney to handle your financial affairs in case of incapacitation as well.

Distribute assets via a will. Many elderly parents name a child as joint tenants with right of survivorship on bank accounts as a convenience factor, but this move can have unintended consequences that can lead to litigation. A better strategy is to distribute all assets via a comprehensive last will and testament or a trust.

Create flexibility in trusts. Providing for flexibility in trust provisions – especially for trusts intended to last over time – is critical to give heirs the means to deal with unforeseen circumstances that may arise.

The Flanigan Law Group provides Southern California residents with personal attention for estate planning, administration and litigation legal services. When disputes between families, arise, they are very successful in resolving legal estate issues quickly and efficiently while preserving financial and emotional resources. Contact the Flanigan Law Group at 949-450-0042.