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Organization can help heirs properly allocate assets

When it comes to matters of estate planning, many Massachusetts residents feel certain that they have adequately addressed their needs. Once the planning process is complete, many people put their documents away and never revisit the issue. However, a recently published article suggests that one of the most important aspects of estate planning lies less in the documents that are prepared and more in how those important decisions are stored. Without the proper attention, one's heirs can encounter significant problems when trying to complete the allocation of assets.

Discussing one's own demise is often a difficult conversation to have, especially with children or other family members. As a result, many people simply avoid the matter, and complete their estate planning process on their own without the input or participation of their designated heirs. While this approach can lead to a successful outcome for many, there are instances in which serious problems can arise.

Consider a scenario in which your children or other heirs know that your will and other important documents are stored within a home safe. They may believe that the documents contained within the safe comprise the entirety of your estate plans, and may not look elsewhere for other paperwork. However, there could be insurance policies or other important documents that are kept at your office or in another location. Without knowledge of the full extent of your estate, your heirs are at risk of losing assets to which they are entitled.

The best way to mitigate the risk of losing assets in this manner is to take an organized approach to the estate planning process. This involves compiling a list of all accounts, insurance policies and other information that one's heirs will need when the time comes. Be sure to include items such as the location of any digital content stored online, as well as the user names and passwords required to access that content. The best course of action is to sit down with your loved ones and discuss your estate plan and how you would like things to be handled. However, in cases in which those closest to you refuse to acknowledge the matter, having a comprehensive written list of all estate planning documents and accounts is the next best thing for Massachusetts residents.

Source: pressdemocrat.com, "Organizing is a key part of estate planning," Robert Digitale, June 30, 2013

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