estate planning

Estate Planning Checklist for California Residents

When you pass away, your estate goes through the probate process, and the probate court ensures that your executor distributes your assets per your will.


Estate planning is a critical part of being a grown-up.

If you are single, married, worried  about a surviving spouse, have minor children, have adult children or don't have any children, you want to protect your assets and the people you care about. Once you become an adult, you will need some level of legal documents to take care of who and what you love. With the right estate planning lawyer, you can be successful. 

How do you start, and get things ready to prepare your estate plan? Is there a checklist for estate planning? Do you need to talk to an estate planning lawyer? What estate planning forms will he or she require? 

Most estate planning attorneys will require that you fill out their estate planning forms and gather estate planning documents before they will meet with you. 

What documents are needed for estate planning? The documents they will ask for include:

  • Grant Deed to your home
  • Bank statements
  • Investment account statements
  • Retirement plan account statements
  • Life insurance policies
  • Social security numbers

At Clark Allison, we don’t need you to give us any of those documents or fill out any estate planning forms. Our estate planning lawyers do not send you an estate planning documents checklist. We build a relationship with you instead. 

We have a very easy process that we have developed through 25+ years of helping our clients. All you need to do is schedule a Zoom meeting with one of our smart and friendly estate planning lawyers, and we will walk you through the rest.

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Estate planning does not have to be difficult, it can actually be a pleasant and easy experience. Most of our clients who have created a trust tell us they were surprised at how our estate planning service and process was comfortable and easy.

What is estate planning? What are trusts and wills? What is the estate planning definition? The term “Estate Plan” can mean many things to many people. In our California estate planning practice it doesn’t mean just one or two estate planning documents, it means a package of estate planning documents intended to protect you and your family.

The basics of an estate plan for a California resident should include:

  • Will
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Advance Health Care Directive and HIPAA

If you own a home and/or other real property, you will also want a revocable trust. If you have assets that would go through probate when you pass away - such as real property worth more than $50,000 and bank and investment accounts worth more than $166,250, then you will want to transfer those assets to revocable trust so you and your family can avoid probate in the dreaded probate court. 

A California Revocable Trust estate plan should include:

    • Revocable Trust
    • Schedule of  Trust Property
    • Certification of Trust
    • Pour-Over Will
    • Durable Power of Attorney
    • Advance Health Care Directive and HIPAA
    • Trust Transfer Deed and Preliminary Change in Ownership Report

Checklist of Things to Consider Before You Do Your Estate Planning

Before our first meeting, we ask our clients to be ready to discuss:

 FAMILY INFO. Your names, date of birth, address, phone, etc.

 GUARDIANS. If you have minor children, who do you want to raise them if you cannot?
First Choice
Second Choice

 SUCCESSOR TRUSTEES. Who will administer your trust if you cannot?
First Choice
Second Choice

HEALTH CARE AGENTS. Who will make health care decisions for you if you cannot?
First Choice
Second Choice

BENEFICIARIES. Who do you want to get your assets when you pass away?

ASSETS. Be able to give me an overview of your assets. We won't need account numbers or exact figures, just an overview.

If you are a California resident and you are ready to talk about setting up your estate plan, click here and complete the form, and one of our smart and friendly attorneys will reach out to you to walk you through the process and answer your questions.

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