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Improve estate administration efficiency with good organization

10/12/2015 | Kaplin Stewart Blog

Structuring a solid estate plan is the first step toward passing down wealth to one’s heirs. However, in order for the established plan to be effective, it is necessary to attain a high level of organization. The individual(s) who are entrusted with estate administration duties will be either empowered or limited by the organization of the estate plan. Pennsylvania residents should review their own estate planning package to ensure that the information laid out within is organized and easily accessible.

Organization begins with a list of all of the pertinent documents that will be needed to settle an estate. This includes copies of the will, trusts and any personal documents such as letters to heirs. Having all of these items in one central location can make it far easier for the designated person or persons to begin the process of estate administration.

It is also important to compile a list of all assets. This list will shift and change over time, as assets are acquired or sold. The list should include a description of each asset, where it is located and how to access account information, such as login and password details. It may be helpful to create separate lists for accounts (insurance, investments, savings) and items of property (real estate, vehicles, jewelry). Having a comprehensive breakdown of assets will help loved ones feel certain that they are not missing any items of value when settling the estate.

A similar list should be made that outlines all of an individual’s liabilities. This includes items such as credit cards, loans and other debts. Part of the estate administration process involves settling the individual’s outstanding debts, and having this information in one central location can make that process easier.

Creating an organized estate plan is not only a thoughtful gesture toward the individual(s) who will handle estate administration, but it is also a very practical matter. Without an organized system, it is easy for assets or debts to be overlooked, which can result in a distribution of wealth that is not what was intended. Fortunately, once a Pennsylvania resident has organized his or her estate planning package, maintaining that organization can be achieved with a simple annual review.

Source:, “Will You Leave Your Spouse or Kids a Mess or a Method?“, Bob Lambert, Sept. 28, 2015