Several previous posts on estate planning have noted that, in general, it is better to have some estate planning documents in place than none. However, it isn’t called estate “planning” for no reason. Pennsylvania residents should be sure to take a careful approach with their attorneys to determine which estate planning documents are right for them, their families and their financial assets. Leaving behind a mess can only make the process more complicated for those left behind who will benefit from the assets.

But, a mess isn’t just a concern for financial and legal documents. Individuals and families should be concerned about the actual “stuff” that they leave behind. Consider this: what if someone had to come to your residence and sort through all of your possessions right now. Would that be a huge burden? Well, the fact is that, especially with children and parents, many heirs feel like they need to go through everything, just in case there is something that wasn’t listed in an estate plan – something valuable. Avoiding such a mess is best, if at all possible.

Of course, the main point of estate planning is to attempt to make sure that legal and financial issues are not a mess for heirs and beneficiaries. This is why estate planning should be a careful, calculated and comprehensive effort. Consider all of your assets: real estate, bank accounts and retirement accounts. Some may pass by joint ownership and others by beneficiary designation. Do you have all of these accounts in order, and is the ownership or beneficiary information consistent with your estate planning documents?

Leaving a mess behind is one big mistake to avoid. Pennsylvania residents will need to consider the things that will be left behind – physical, financial and legal – when their estate plans are implemented.

Source: Forbes, “7 Big Estate Planning Mistakes: Leaving A Messy Estate,” Bob Carlson, March 13, 2018