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Identifying Your Assets

 Posted on April 12, 2013 in Estate Planning

Estate planning may seem a daunting task, better left for the very rich or the savvy investor. An asset, however, can be anything—from a simple family home to an insurance policy—things that any average American may possess. Upon your death, what happens to your assets will be determined by the court if you don't make your wishes known beforehand. To do this, you'll first need to identify your assets and take stock of them. According to CNN Money Magazine, "these include your investments, retirement accounts, insurance policies, real estate, and any business interests."

Deciding where they will go upon your death is the next step. That is, you need to decide to whom you'll like your assets to go—only then can you begin to put framework in place to ensure that this happens. Your children? Your spouse? Begin by making a list of people you trust, and assigning them to various holdings. "Once you decide what kinds of bequests you wish to make, be sure to discuss your plans with your heirs," according to CNN Money Magazine. "The sooner and more distinctly you outline your intentions to your family and friends, the less chance there will be for disagreements when you're gone."

Remember that your first draft doesn't have to be set in stone. Be open to what your family wishes as well, and factor in personal attributes when deciding who'd be best to handle which assets. If your child is a real estate broker, he might be best to handle the home. If a younger sibling is an insurance agent, she might be a shoe-in to distribute any money incurred through insurance policies.

Identifying your assets is just one of the many facets of estate planning. Don't go through it alone. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney today.

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