One of the most helpful tools you can provide to your loved ones in an estate plan is a detailed, updated inventory of your assets. This information can make the probate process easier to navigate, as it can prevent a personal representative from having to spend a lot of time identifying your assets and tracking them down.
As such, an inventory should be in your estate plan, even if you have few assets. Below are some suggestions for how you can create a comprehensive inventory and how to incorporate it into your estate plan.
What property to include
Everything you own is part of your estate and will need to be managed during probate. Online lists like this one from Charles Schwab & Co. can be a good place to start. When listing your property, remember to include:
- Bank accounts
- Homes and other real estate property
- Personal property
- Retirement accounts
- Insurance policies
- Money owed to you
- Business interests
- Digital assets
Details to include
Once you have a list of all your assets and liabilities, you should include information on where to find the property and how to access it. This means you will want to record:
- Bank account numbers
- Physical location of the property
- Contact information for the party holding or managing the property
- Policy numbers
- Login information and passwords
- Description of the property
- Fair market value
Make sure you keep this information secure, which typically means keeping it with your other estate planning documents. You will also want to update it from time to time as your assets or accounts change.
Not only can having a thorough inventory of your assets provide critical guidance to loved ones during probate, it can also help you stay organized. When you know what and how much you have, you can find that it is easier to make decisions about how to distribute all the property as you see fit.