Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid: Not Taking Proper Inventory

Estate planning, next to retirement planning, is an important piece in safeguarding your assets. While the latter focusses on your quality of life after work, the former looks to how your loved ones will survive once you’re gone.

“Of course, people don’t want to think about their mortality, but it’s a fact of life,” explains Richard Cayne of Meyer International. “This is an important eventuality that everyone needs to take care to plan.”

Are you sure all your assets are covered in your will?

You may treasure your bumper sticker collection, but have you taken account all your assets? There are those items of sentimental or emotional value you may want to ensure go to the proper beneficiary. Even these items, along with real estate and other “valuable” assets, should be assessed. But not considering all your assets may impact tax and other exposures for your heirs.

Most people have had more than one job, so it is likely that they have more than one retirement account. And although it seems unlikely, is it possible there is one or more bank accounts you’ve forgotten about?

Furthermore, there is a misconception that certain instruments such as life insurance or retirement accounts are not taxed the same as “regular” assets. Depending on the jurisdiction, this is not the case.

Is all the information about your assets listed properly in your will?

When it comes to something as important as your assets and your family, every little detail does count. Since you will no longer be available to explain or fill in any gaps, you need to make sure that not only are your instructions understandable, but that your assets are identified fully.

You may know that “all my bank accounts” may not be enough information, but have you recorded the exact account information as in the financial institution’s records? This will go a long way to expediting your instructions and easing the process for your heirs.

Get professional advice to avoid problems

There may be some cases where a DIY will is a workable solution, but do you want to take that risk? If you have any concerns, it is best to contact a trusted professional to help you take inventory of your assets and on how best to handle your estate.