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Making estate administration less complicated

When a Massachusetts resident dies, the estate will be distributed in accordance with his or her estate plan. Knowing a person's wishes makes estate administration easier, but without some basic basic awareness of an estate plan, things can become unnecessarily complicated. Important, but often neglected, parts of estate planning include making a list of all assets, accounts and debts. Moreover, it's vital to keep the information up to date.

Without an accurate list of all assets and liabilities, it is possible that something could be missed during the estate administration process. An executor can conduct a thorough inventory after death, but having a detailed list could make things go smoother. The list should include names and contact information for important individuals and businesses, along with usernames and passwords for any online accounts.

As time goes on, accounts may be closed or opened. Keeping that itemized list up-to-date is crucial. Most Massachusetts residents are typically advised to periodically review their estate plans to be sure everything remains in accordance with an individual's wishes. Accounts such as IRAs, 401Ks and insurance policies require beneficiary designations that trump a will. Therefore, it is important to make sure the appropriate people are listed as beneficiaries on accounts that require such designations.

Taking these additional steps might help to ensure a smooth estate administration. The loss of a loved one is never easy. Sparing a grieving family as many complications as possible may be the last time that an individual can help his or her family through a difficult time.

Source: dailyfinance.com, "3 Important Estate Planning Questions", Scott Holsopple, May 2, 2014

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