In order to accurately divide up your estate after your passing, you must first understand what your estate consists of. This is a process that most people should begin before they meet with their estate planning attorney. It involves making five key inventories. Here's what they are and why they matter.
1. Your Physical Belongings
Your estate consists of everything you own when you die. Most people automatically think of their large assets, such as a home or vehicles. But it also includes many small items. In fact, you may find that even a semi-detailed inventory of these is more than you expected it to be. While you make this inventory, include notes about specific items you want to give to specific people. Don't get bogged down, though.
2. Your Intangible Assets
Next, there are the assets that you may not be able to touch — your intangible assets. These include bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, royalties, creative works, and other unique things. It's particularly important to inventory intangible assets as these can be overlooked by an executor or heirs.
3. Your Memberships and Subscriptions
In an increasingly digital world, don't overlook your digital presence. This could include anything from your social media accounts to your Netflix subscription to your zoo membership. These may or may not be valuable assets, but they will be important to anyone clearing up your estate as well as to heirs who may use them.
4. Your Debts
Legitimate debts you are responsible for are paid by your estate prior to its proceeds being distributed to heirs. Therefore, your debts could make a big difference to your estate plans. So you need to know what your estate, your joint borrowers, or your heirs will have to pay. Make an inventory that includes all potential debts, even if you're not sure your estate will be responsible for them.
5. Your Insurance Policies
Do you know all your insurance policies? Some people end up with a string of small policies over time, some of which they might hardly remember. But insurance policies that payout upon your death, in case of an accident, if you cannot pay bills, if you get a particular illness, or after a set period of time may be valuable. They are part of your estate and they can add up significantly. Find any documentation you can.
Where to Learn More
Need help to inventory any of these assets and liabilities? Ready to consult a professional with your inventories? Visit a website for an estate planning attorney in your state — such as https://wolfleyandwolfley.com/ — to get started.