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What assets do you have?

It's the basic question behind the start of estate planning: What assets do you have? What do you want to happen to those assets?

It's not just about assets, of course. You also want to consider things like medical directives, legal powers of attorney, your family's future happiness and much more. But it begins with assets because your will and estate plan is a way to pass those on to the next generation.

So, what assets do you have? People often overlook things, so let's break down some of the most common ones:

  • Your home
  • Cash and cash equivalents
  • Real estate and land
  • Vacation homes
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Money market accounts
  • Your car
  • Checking accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Jewelry
  • Treasury bills
  • Collectibles
  • Home furnishings
  • Boats
  • Bonds
  • Annuities
  • Artwork
  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement plans
  • Pension plans
  • Mutual funds
  • Stocks and investments

If you are a business owner, you may also have significant business assets. These could include inventory, physical property, land, buildings, machines, vehicles and intellectual property. You also want to think of the business itself as an asset. Are you going to sell it and pass the money on to your heirs? Are you going to leave the business to them so that they can run it? What type of succession plan do you need?

All of this is just scratching the surface, but you can already see how complicated it can get and why it's important not to overlook anything. As you take stock of your assets and consider what you want to do with your estate plan, consider the legal steps you're going to need to take.

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