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Tidy or messy? Estate planning can run the gamut

"You want people to remember you for the good things you did, not the mess you left."

So says one financial planner, who undoubtedly echoes the sentiments of many of his professional peers.

Experienced estate planning attorneys without doubt agree with the above comment, having seen the huge difference in outcome that sound estate planning -- or lack thereof -- typically makes following a person's death or incapacitating illness.

On the one hand, there can be virtual chaos in the absence of a will, health care directive, updated beneficiary designations, instructions pertaining to pets, information regarding relevant accounts and passwords and so forth.

On the other hand, current and properly drafted estate documents -- updated, relevant, comprehensive -- can go far toward ensuring a seamless process when it comes to family inheritances and distributions, charitable gifting, property transfer and other important matters.

And, thus, back to that opening point: Don’t leave a mess.

A second commentator in a recent media piece addressing estate planning says that it is bothersome to see some people convey an attitude of, “I’ll be dead, so why should I care?”

The answer to that is easily put: The living -- your loved ones -- are intimately affected by the degree of care you take in dealing with end-of-life affairs.

And, conversely, taking care of business ensures that things play out the way you want them to, right?

That latter point alone should prompt most people to take responsive action in settling their estate. After all, an accurate estate plan that is executed with the close input of a proven estate planning attorney will close loopholes, enhance clarity, address tax consequences and let loved ones know that they were thought about.

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part of estate planning. A proven planning attorney can break down the inertia and help a client create a thoughtful and lasting legacy.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Are you ready for death? Resolve to get your affairs in order," Tim Engle, Jan. 20, 2014

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