Complete asset list essential for planning
A complete list of your assets is the essential starting point in making any decisions about those assets, whether financial portfolio decisions, or estate planning decisions. Not listing all assets is like leaving out some of the ingredients of a favorite recipe. The end result won't be nearly as satisfying.
Without a complete list of all of your assets, your estate planning attorney cannot advise you with regard to taxation issues. Further, without beneficiary designation and titling information, the estate planning attorney cannot be sure your wishes will be carried out.
Without a complete list of your financial assets, a financial planner cannot know how to change your assets to achieve the proper asset allocation to meet your risk, return, and diversification objectives.
Even valuable personal property, such as jewelry, rare coins, etc., should be itemized by you. Ideally, such items should be photographed as well. This list can serve many purposes. If you have a fire, burglary, or other issue arise, this list and the accompanying photographs can help you file a claim with the insurance company.
Do not forget items in safe deposit boxes or other little-accessed areas. First, having a list of such assets will be helpful in the event that there is a delay in finding a key. At least your family will know the contents and the urgency, if any, of gaining entry to the box. Also, while extremely unlikely, safe deposit boxes have had their contents looted or destroyed.
For example, Singapore-based DBS Bank's Hong Kong branch recently destroyed 83 safe deposit boxes. Evidently, the bank was renovating the vault and some active boxes were accidentally removed and destroyed. The bank offered an unquestioned settlement of approximately $20,000 per box. Anyone claiming more would have to provide an itemized list of the items in the box.
Of course, when choosing items to place in the safe deposit box, leave out items you may need in an emergency, such as originals of your property power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will and, in many states, your will.
A complete list of assets is essential for estate and financial planning. Any estate or financial plan is like a map that takes you from point A to point B. Unfortunately, if you don't know where point A is, it's impossible to give directions from there to point B. The more thorough your list of assets, the better advice professionals can give you.
Larry Deason is a Yuma attorney who is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. He can be reached at 783-4466 or www.deasonlaw.com.