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Gifting your heirs … by not leaving a financial mess

When it comes to thinking about their heirs, most planners across Alameda County and the Bay Area likely focus most of the time on matters relevant to asset transfer and inheritance. That is certainly understandable.

A writer for NerdWallet, a San Francisco-based online financial website, counsels that heir-related considerations should additionally encompass one additional and very important matter.

And that is this: death cleaning.

We suspect that such a term sounds jarring to many readers of our California estate administration and tax law blog.

Columnist Liz Weston says it shouldn't. Actually, it is just a literal translation in Swedish for the concept of decluttering while aging. Weston denotes it as "getting rid of excess rather than leaving a mess for your heirs to sort out."

We're not talking your loved ones having to deal with a couple extra sofas or a large pile of dirty laundry after your death. Rather, the focus of death cleaning is on tidying up -- read simplifying -- your finances following a thorough combing of documents, accounts held at various financial arms, credit cards and so forth.

Following a loved one's passing, heirs are frequently confronted by one of two realities: dealing with financial accounts and records that are already in a reasonably organized and simplified state … or walking into bedlam.

Understandably, the first scenario plays out best for all concerned.

Weston's NerdWallet piece focuses on some useful information and tips applicable to financial cleaning, which readers can access through the above highlighted link.

More importantly, they can do this, especially if they seek counsel on managing their affairs in a manner that future generations of their families will long appreciate: contact a proven estate administration attorney for advice on organizing, simplifying and safeguarding financial accounts and records so that heirs can optimally work with them at a future date.

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