Estate planning helps to protect and guide your family when unexpected medical situations occur, provides end-of-life planning so your wishes are known and respected and ensures your assets are distributed to your heirs according to your wishes. Estate planning 101 says that to get started, you need to make an inventory of all your assets. But how do you make an inventory of your assets? What should you include – and exclude?
When you prepare to meet with an estate planning attorney, it’s a good idea to have a personal asset inventory. This will help your attorney understand your situation and guide you on the best ways to protect your assets and pass them to your heirs.
An asset inventory is a list of all your valuable and sentimental possessions that you want to leave to your family, charitable organizations or other distributions. This inventory should include property, accounts, safety deposit boxes, storage units, jewelry and sentimental family treasures such as heirlooms, recipes, photo albums or scrapbooks.
You can buy asset inventory software to create a digital copy of your assets, download an online estate planning asset inventory checklist, or just get out your pen and paper and write down all your personal possessions. Each item should have a description included, such as where you bought it, where it is located, how much it cost or it’s current valuation. Photographs are extremely useful in making sure your assets are clearly described.
Whichever asset inventory option you choose, make sure it includes:
1. Personal Property
Homes, cars, furnishing, jewelry, art and any other property you own fully or own a portion of.
Do you own or co-own a business, are you an investor or partner in a business venture?
3. Accounts and Policies
Do you have a bank account, retirement accounts, savings accounts, life insurance policies, a stock portfolio?
4. Safety Deposit Boxes
Do you store money, valuables or important documents in a safety deposit box?
5. Digital Assets
Do you own trademarks or copyrights, cryptocurrency or subscriptions? Do you have online bank accounts or
6. Jewelry and Art
Do you have expensive jewelry or art? Are you a part-owner or investment owner of art or jewelry? Do you have a written estimate on the value of your pieces?
7. Sentimental Property
Heirlooms and sentimental family treasures such as inherited jewelry or recipes, photo albums or scrapbooks.
Have you loaned someone money? Did you co-sign on property such as a mortgage? Have you loaned out personal property such as a home or a boat?
Do you have a mortgage, credit card debt, a business loan or other debt?
10. Antiques and Collectibles
Do you have valuable or irreplaceable antiques or collectibles that need a special written estimate or valuation?
An asset inventory is important for estate planning, but there are many practical reasons to have an inventory of your assets – such as if your home is destroyed in a fire or lost in a move or you are the victim of a burglary.
Once you have completed your asset inventory, you should consult an experienced estate planning lawyer who can guide you on the next steps in estate planning 101, including:
• naming your beneficiaries
• choosing an executor of your estate
• creating the legal documents to convey your assets such as a will or trust
We’ll discuss how to decide who gets what by naming your beneficiaries and designating an asset to a specific heir in a future blog post.
Estate planning is preparing for the future. Contact Estate & Probate Legal Group in Lombard Illinois today at 630-864-5835.
AREAS WE SERVE: Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties