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Leaving your family in the best possible financial shape is a primary goal of California estate planning; here are some steps you can take now to achieve this:

Be sure you have sufficient life insurance. Will your family be able to survive just fine without your income if you were to suddenly pass away? If not, you need to have a life insurance policy that provides a sufficient level of income to meet their needs.

Make sure your beneficiary forms are up to date. If you are currently married, your spouse is the most likely beneficiary for your retirement accounts, since spouses can inherit a retirement account without having to take distributions right away. If you are divorced and your ex is still listed as beneficiary, he or she will inherit – if that is not what you want, be sure to change your beneficiary forms now.

Designate beneficiaries for other assets. California allows residents to create payable-on-death designations for bank accounts and transfer-on-death registration for securities. However, California does not recognize transfer-on-death deeds for real estate, so you will need to consult with your estate planning attorney for the best way to pass along these assets.

Make a will. By creating a will, you control who inherits your personal property as well as who would serve as a guardian for minor children.

Consider a trust. If you have more than $1 million in assets or a child with special needs, you may want to talk with a California estate planning attorney about creating a trust.

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.