Before you can pass on your belongings to your beneficiaries, you will have to gather documentation of everything you own and estimate the value of each item. Many people do not know the full value of their estate—or everything that is included in it—until they begin the estate planning process.
Types of Assets That Can Make Up a Person’s Estate
In legal terms, an estate is the total economic value of all the investments, assets, and interests of an individual, minus any outstanding debts and liabilities. A person’s estate can include both physical and intangible assets, such as:
- Personal belongings. Personal items can include clothing, jewelry, tools, accessories, equipment, and anything else found in your home.
- Property. The value of a person’s home, car, art, antiques, collectibles, and furnishings will all factor into his or her estate.
- Land and real estate. Individuals who own properties, plots of land, houses, buildings, and other types of real estate should ensure that they have clear title to all properties held in their name.
- Bank accounts. Bank account cash balances and funds in retirement accounts and pensions are considered part of the estate even if the funds are directly transferred using a payable on death beneficiary.
- Businesses. An estate may include the value of sole or partial business ownership or shares of businesses.
- Insurance policies. Estate property includes sums of money that will be generated upon a person's death, such as a life insurance policy.
- Investments. The value of a person’s stocks, bonds, and other securities can comprise a significant portion of his or her estate.
- Estate debt. Unfortunately, a person’s debts and financial obligations are also part of his or her estate. Common debts include medical bills, student loans, mortgages, unpaid taxes, credit cards, and business or service invoices.
If you have questions about your estate plan, our legal team can keep track of all of your holdings and help you pass on the full value of your property to your beneficiaries. Contact us today to speak to an attorney about your estate planning options.