According to the aficionados, the only thing better than a garage sale is an estate sale. In the best of situations this is after all the good stuff has gone to family members and the executor of the estate throws the rest of it in the front yard so their job can finally be done.

Many times though, this is a serious attempt to raise money to pay the expenses of the estate, whether that is debt, state death tax or federal estate taxes. This is when families see all that a loved one has worked all their life to accumulate go to strangers for pennies on the dollar. This is what happens when there is no estate planning.

While we generally think of the wealthy as those who use life insurance for estate planning, the truth is that a lack of life insurance can cause an equally devastating event with the less well to do when a person dies with debt that needs to be paid or with a mortgage on their most valuable asset. Unless someone’s estate plan is to leave a mess and not worry about it, a visit with an independent life insurance agent is a prudent idea. Even if the outcome isn’t perfect (and most estate plans aren’t), the truth is that having some life insurance in force is far better than having nothing.

You don’t need to worry about buying life insurance to add value to your estate, but do your loved ones a favor and have at least enough that they still have fond memories of you once the mess you’ve left behind is sorted out and cleaned up.

For those with larger estates, let’s just get practical. Your estate can go to your family if you plan properly, or you can give half to them and half to the government if you don’t.

Bottom line. There are those who honestly don’t care what kind of mess is left behind. For them, while not a nice thing to do, doing nothing is probably an adequate plan. For the rest of us, it’s time to take this part of life seriously, not for us, but for those we leave behind.