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Is the answer to a thorny estate planning question … decluttering?

Here's the scenario -- the general gist, if you will -- of a recent media focus and real-life story on death, survivors and an estate that needs to be immediately reckoned with.

Mom has just passed away after a long and fruitful life. Her adult children are thankful that she made strong efforts during life to think about financial matters and to duly attend to key estate planning considerations. She spoke with the kids about passing and had executed a will.

"What wasn't in order and proved to be a monumental task," notes the above-cited article, was dealing with the veritable mountain of stuff inside the mother's home that wasn't addressed in the will or elsewhere. The kids found it a formidable challenge to deal with the collected artifacts and furnishings of a lifetime.

"It was very, very overwhelming," says the daughter, who eventually agreed with her sibling to use an estate-sale firm to dispose of almost all the possessions.

The children's experience is of course routinely duplicated in legions of cases in California and across the country.

And it certainly underscores the need for families to timely address the subject of "accumulation" and to take purposeful steps to deal with it before it does become a seemingly insuperable obstacle following the death of a loved one. In a very real sense, an important part of estate planning for many individuals and families is indeed -- as noted in the above blog headline -- the well-considered and systematic decluttering of possessions.

Of course, there is much more to planning than moving excess tables and chairs out of a house. Although surviving family members will certainly appreciate the efforts of a deceased loved one to have made things as orderly and comprehensible as possible on the home front, they will value even more the careful and tailored decisions made by a mother or father regarding fundamentally important estate administration matters.

Such matters -- ranging broadly from asset transfers and inheritances to lawful tax avoidance and alternatives to probate -- can be fully addressed through consultation with a proven estate planning and tax attorney.

A certain amount of clutter is likely inevitable. Ineffective estate planning is not.

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