The Ultimate Estate Planning Checklist and Timeline

If you’re the type of person that is always thinking ahead, then you know the advantages of planning for the future. Whether you’re a new parent looking to create a financial safety net for your child in the event of your death or you’re in the sunset years of your life and are looking for professionals to assist you in creating documents that designate your beneficiaries, our estate planning attorneys can assist you. With this ultimate estate planning checklist and timeline, the estate planning process will easily become less stressful and overwhelming.


Estate Planning Checklist 

What is an estate planning checklist? It’s important to remember that your will and estate planning checklist may look different from that of another person. When it comes to a basic estate planning checklist, there are several things to consider. For instance, on your estate plan checklist you should always list the individuals that you want to receive your assets when you pass away. You should also take the time to identify individuals that you want to serve in different capacities such as your Executor or Power of Attorney. Your estate planning checklist should also include stock of a list of assets that you want to use in your custom estate plan. When it comes to your checklist for estate planning, you can rest assured that our attorneys will walk you through the process.


What You Should Know About Custom Estate Planning

 As experienced estate planning attorneys in San Diego, our expertise ranges from working with clients that have asset levels that span the gambit. Our guidance ensures your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate are accurately recorded and in line with legal requirements. Below is a brief outline of the steps involved in custom estate planning:


  • Taking stock of your assets: Whether you’ve only begun to build your wealth or already have a multitude of assets to your name, you’ll want to make a detailed and accurate list of these assets to start. We also recommend that you include in that list different insurance policies that you have as well as the current beneficiaries of those policies. This is something that will also be on your estate planning checklist and your estate planning outline.


  • Choosing the right people. Now that you’ve prepared what will form an essential part of your estate plan, it’s time to nominate someone who’ll be responsible for administering your estate once you pass away. This person should always be a trusted friend or family member and will be referred to as your successor trustee/executor. We’ll also need to nominate the person who should make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself, along with guardians of minor children, if applicable.


  • Contact law firm/attorney. With this information gathered, it’s time to find the right Estate Planning Attorneys to put your plan into action. Find a law firm and attorney that will take time to get to know you and your family, learn your goals, and craft a customized plan to most efficiently secure and accomplish your wishes. When you meet with the attorney, they’ll use the basic information gathered above along with a pointed interview process to flesh out all of your wishes and discuss all of the “what ifs” you may not yet have considered. After that interview, the attorneys will have an idea of how to best draft your documents.


  • Drafting your estate planning documents: Next in line is the attorney’s work in actually drafting your plan.  It’s important to remember that your estate plan is comprised of more than just one document. Every document plays a critical part in your overall plan. For example, while your Living Trust and Last Will and Testament indicate who you wish to settle your estate when you pass away, a Power of Attorney is an example of a document that can help you during your lifetime. The person named as your power of attorney can assist you in making financial and medical decisions in the event that you’re unable to do so. During your initial consultation with our estate planning attorneys, we will explain to you the intricacies of these documents, so you have a complete understanding of them before you sign them.


  • Review and sign documents. After your documents are drafted you should have a period to review them, make sure you understand what is written, and reflect on whether your actual wishes are accurately reflected in the plan. Everyone is different in how this review unfolds, whether that’s reviewing the documents on your own time at home, or in-office with an attorney to go over questions. Once a final plan is agreed upon, the next step is signing and notarizing/witnessing everything together with your Estate Planning Attorney. It’s important to note, signing is not the final step!


  • Funding your plan. No, not paying for the plan itself! One of the most common ways a plan goes awry is actually after the signing of the final documents. Once your plan is in place, you MUST take steps to “fund” your Living Trust. This step is absolutely imperative to actually keep your family out of Probate Court, but it is often left out by many in the field. Your Estate Planning Attorney should draft all documents necessary to place any Real Estate interests into the Living Trust at the time of signing (and they should deal with the County Recorder for you). They should also prepare the documents you need to provide financial institutions with to either transfer accounts into the name of the trust or assign a beneficiary designation to the account. Your relationship with the Estate Planning Attorney should not end when your final documents are signed, you’ll want to work together to make sure that all assets are properly transferred or assigned to the Living Trust, so that your plan actually works as intended.


What Sets Us Apart Regarding an Estate Planning Documents Checklist and Custom Estate Planning 


When you work with our team, it will take anywhere between two to three weeks on average to custom draft and finalize your custom estate plan. If there is a reason to rush this process along, as is common with an unexpected diagnosis, we always aim to accommodate whenever possible. We commit to:


Just the right amount of complexity. Part of creating a customized Estate Plan is knowing just what does and does not need to be in that plan to accomplish the goals desired. Often times you will see law firms utilize a one-size-fits-all approach and give everyone the same basic documents, or overly complex documents, regardless of whether that’s what is needed or not. Our foundational approach is to utilize every strategy necessary to ensure your goals are met and wishes are followed in the simplest way possible, without creating an unnecessary nightmare of complexity for your significant other or beneficiaries.


Efficient document creation: Since we stay laser-focused on Estate Planning and Estate Administration as a firm, we’ve put in place systems and processes to efficiently create your Estate Planning documents and strategies. Focusing on one area of law allows us to stay really good at that area and deliver the best experience possible to our clients.


Various document formats: Given the importance of estate planning documents, you must have a backup. We provide clients with original notarized documents and electronic copies in case of the displacement of either. We also retain a backup digital copy of all final documents we sign in office. If your documents are ever lost or destroyed, just give us a call.


Why Trust Jenkins & Jenkins, Estate Planning Attorneys


We provide the personalized service and attention that you need as you make these important decisions. Contact us to learn more about your estate planning options and how we can provide you with the peace of mind that you need during this process.


Testimonial from Amber, Satisfied Estate Planning Client 

Michael and Caroline Jenkins are a dream team! During an extremely challenging time for my family, they provided the best care and service. Everything was handled with excellence and I am truly grateful. Everyone deserves to experience the easefulness that comes from working with them.

Michael Jenkins

Michael Jenkins

Estate planning became personal to Michael when his father passed away suddenly without any plan in place. Since that day Michael has made it his mission to educate everyone on the need for an estate plan, provide the legal advice and guidance needed, and ensure that no family is left dealing with estate issues while grieving the loss of a loved one.


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