Organization is key when estate planning. One commonsense estate planning mistake that many people make is leaving behind a messy estate.
Think of all of the things that a person accumulates throughout a lifetime. When we pass away, our heirs must sort through those things and decide what to do with them, whether they are real property, personal property, or finances.
If you don’t want your heirs to inherit a mess that will cost them time and money, here’s what you need to do.
Of the people we talk to who have had to deal with their late parents’ estate, most say they are surprised at the sheer scale of how much stuff a person can accumulate over the decades. Most people don’t give enough thought to how their possessions will impact the ones who are destined to sort through their estates—their children and other family members.
Losing a loved one is never easy, but when you have to clean out a house in order to sell it or to find what holdings the deceased has left behind, grieving can be next to impossible. Many adult children feel obligated to go through every single item that their parents had in their possession when they died. It seems we hear stories every week about the amount of time it takes—from days and weeks to months and even years—to properly separate the treasure from the trash.
Our advice to those who want to avoid this estate planning mistake is this: don’t save things just because you think you or your heirs will want it someday. Start to streamline your possessions now if you want to reduce the stress they will put on your kids and family. In fact, it might even make life simpler for you. Don’t wait. If you delay too long, you might not have the strength and energy to do it.
It’s also probable that you need to make your financial estate less complicated. Do you have multiple bank accounts? What about retirement accounts? Cashing out any small accounts and reinvesting that money in your larger ones can help to make things simpler to manage and for your heirs to sort through. The same goes for any assets you have.
The less organized your estate is, the more likely your assets and money are to be lost after you’re gone. If your heirs don’t know what you own, they probably won’t look for the paperwork.
Making this simple estate planning mistake also means that your heirs will have to spend more time and resources to find and inherit the whole of your estate. Think of your estate plan as a roadmap that you will leave for your family. List all of your assets and liabilities as well as any paperwork that goes with them so that your heirs don’t take any wrong turns.
Want to avoid making this estate planning mistake?
Have you been putting off making your estate plan? Schedule a consultation with us today so that we can get to work cleaning up your estate.