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Has another year slipped by without you developing a new estate plan or updating your old one? If so, let 2014 be the year you accomplish this important task for protecting both yourself and your loved ones. Here are four simple steps to begin:

1. Have the right attitude. Rather than looking at estate planning as a chore that is triggered by your death, look at it as a way to secure a better financial future for yourself and your family. Planning your estate allows you to take control of your financial security, your health and manage how the wealth you have spent time and effort accumulating will pass to those you want to benefit most from it.

2. Make a list of assets. Whatever you consider valuable – cash, investments, retirement accounts, real estate, collections, etc. – needs to go on your list of assets. Once that list is completed, you can now spend some time thinking about the people or organizations you want to pass each asset to and when. Sometimes gifting before you die is a better strategy.

3. Name your agents. Chances are there will come a time when you need trusted family members or friends to act in your best interest when it comes to making important medical or financial decisions. They can only do this if you have designated them as your agent via a proper Power of Attorney and an advance medical directive.

4. Keep your plan current. Whenever there are major changes in your life or the law, your estate plan will need to be updated to reflect those changes. And since laws are changing all the time, it is wise to schedule an annual estate plan review with your attorney to be sure your plan is still structured properly to meet all your goals.

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 949-450-0041.