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We work hard to build up the assets that compromise our estate and the last thing we want to happen is for one of these assets to be missed by our loved ones.
Years ago, when someone passed away, the executor of their estate would spend several days at the decedent’s home carefully reviewing every document they could find – bank statements, credit card statements, files, paperwork, bills, etc. It was a labor-intensive process, but by the end, the executor could feel reasonably confident they had located all the assets.
These days, however, things aren't as simple. Take a minute to think about how many of your financial statements have gone paperless. If you’re like me, it’s the majority of your accounts. Indeed, as more of our financial statements and communications move online – each with its own separate user name and password – the harder your executor’s job becomes and the more likely an account gets missed.
The solution is to leave a detailed list of your financial accounts, including financial institution, account numbers (the last four digits of the account number are enough), and approximate values, so your executor knows how much you have and where to find it. It's also helpful to include the contact information of your accountant, financial advisor, life insurance agent, and estate planning attorney.
Obviously, it goes without saying that this document should be kept somewhere secure, like a locked fire proof box. And although you’ll have to update it from time to time, once you invest the time to make your initial inventory, it’s fairly easy to keep up to date.
Given the importance of this issue, I provide my clients with an Asset Inventory to fill out and record this critical information, and include this document as part of the Estate Plan Portfolio they receive from my office.
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