Managing a parent's or spouse's estate is probably one of the last things a person wants to do after losing a loved one. Estate planning is a very important issue though. In order to ensure a person's assets end up in the intended person's pocket, one must plan an estate carefully.
If an estate plan does not clearly specify who should receive what assets after a person's death, it is possible they could end up in the wrong hands. For instance, perhaps a wife wants a certain amount of her estate to go to her children and a certain amount to go to her husband. If she does not specify this in her estate plan, her husband could receive all of her assets.
Each family, and even each family member, may have differing viewpoints on how assets and belongings should be distributed after a family member's death. When a person does not set up an estate plan, but expects his children or wife will know what to do with his assets troubles can arise. While it is not a pleasant idea, the lack of a clearly written, up-to-date estate plan could create conflict between siblings or a parent and children.
In addition, if a person does not create a well-thought-out estate plan, family members could face high taxes on money they receive from an estate. By working with a professional to carefully plan one's estate, a person may be able to save family members from losing large amounts of inherited money to taxes.
Source: Fox Business, "What boomers need to know about estate planning," Casey Dowd, Sept. 13, 2012