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If you don’t have a New Year’s resolution in mind yet for the end of this month, consider making estate planning in 2013 a priority. Not only because we be faced with changes in the federal tax structure, but because it is one of the single best things you can do for your loved one.

Here are 7 critical estate planning moves you need to make:

1. Make sure you have executed a durable power of attorney so you have someone you trust to make financial and legal decisions for you in case you cannot;

2. Create the basic estate planning documents to leave your assets to people or charities according to your wishes.

3. If there is someone who depends on you financially – a spouse, a partner, or children – provide for them in your estate plan.

4. Designate a guardian for minor children or those with special needs and leave assets in trust for them.

5. Be sure that the beneficiary designation forms on your retirement assets and bank accounts include primary and alternate beneficiaries. Don’t designate your estate as a beneficiary – this can cause your heirs to lose important income tax benefits.

6. Be aware of state estate taxes – California does not currently have an estate tax, but this applies if you own real estate in other states with estate taxes.

7. Use trusts as needed – for example, to hold assets for minors or protect assets from spendthrift heirs, former spouses or creditors.

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.