If you are thinking about writing a will, have you thought about preparing a list of assets to include in it? Many people make the mistake of writing a will without putting everything in it that is needed for complete estate planning.
Assets are grouped depending on their liquidity, which refers to the simplicity of transferring an asset into cash.
If you have already written your will, it’s a good idea to go back to it and confirm if it contains everything that you would like your beneficiaries to receive.
If you die without a valid will, you are said to have passed away “intestate”. In these circumstances, the courts are responsible for dealing with your estate and they may share your assets in ways that you would not wish. It is therefore very important to make a valid will and to ensure it contains all of the assets listed below:
1. Real Estate
It’s hard to think about what will happen to your property when you are not here. Homes are very important to us. But it’s better to put plans in place now to make sure your property is passed on to those you hold most dear.
Don’t assume that your children or partner will inherit your real estate automatically when you die. Without a will, your property can only be passed onto a few very specific people as laid down in the Laws of Intestacy. If you currently share property with a partner but you are not married, then they have no rights to automatically inherit from you unless you jointly own the property. In this case it is very important to name them as your beneficiary in your wills document.
If you want to leave your home and other property to your children but they are currently too young to inherit, you can choose guardians who would take care of property should you die before they become old enough to receive it.
2. Digital Assets
Anything existing in a binary format is a digital asset. We can group digital assets into two categories. They can be sentimental assets or financial assets. Financial assets have monetary value, for example, domain names and digital currency like Bitcoin.
Sentimental assets include videos, photos, social media sites, and personal websites, among others. In this world of technology, digital assets are a crucial part of anyone’s life. Most people who write a will overlook digital assets.
Have you ever thought about what will happen to your websites after you die? If you had an online business that was generating revenue, who will take it over from you? Will the sites make money? In which case, who should that money go to? It’s essential to include such assets in your will.
In your will, provide instructions that will give your executor permission to access your digital assets. Digital assets can also include email accounts, PayPal accounts or social media accounts. If you fail to include these assets in your will, there may be a situation where no one can get access to them because they don’t have your passwords or permission to do so. They may not even know your digital assets even exist.
What about social media accounts? Let your family know in advance whether you would like them to be permanently deleted or memorialised. In the case of memorialised accounts, your family and friends will be able to share your memories. Nominate someone whom you would like to take care of those accounts.
3. Business Assets
There are three categories of Business Assets. They can be intellectual, tangible, and intangible property. Tangible assets can be office equipment, vehicles, or buildings that you have not consumed while doing business.
We, therefore, list them under equipment, plant, and property on a balance sheet. We can further list them under current and fixed assets. If you own a business, consider putting these assets in your will. Nominate someone you trust to handle these items of property after you are gone.
You can also include in your will, property that you wish to be sold after you have died. If you share the business with other owners, discuss with them how you plan to gift your shares. You can even create a buy-sell agreement with your shareholders. The buy-sell agreement controls where your shares will go after your death.
There are other intangible business assets like the reputation of your business, name recognition, and industry knowledge. You can also list these in your will if you would like them to be protected. If not protected, a new business may open up and start using such assets to gain recognition.
On the other hand, intellectual assets include brand names, trademarks, and logos, among other methods used in communication. Put them in your will so that someone may not misuse them when you are gone. Make a record of your business assets beginning with all asset costs, salvage value, depreciation, and other appraisals.
Aside from your business, you might have cars for personal use. It’s impossible to divide such property up equally amongst several beneficiaries. So think about who you would like to take that car. Name these assets specifically and who you would like to inherit them to avoid future problems. You could also state that you wish your beneficiaries to sell the vehicles and divide the proceeds of the sale amongst them.
Do you have any kind of investments? Your loved ones may not know about them or have a right to get at them when you die. Whether it is stock investment or bonds, you should include the details of these investments in your will.
In answering the question of which assets you should include in a will, the simplest answer is, all of them. But sometimes people do not realise what counts as an asset, or simply forget about some of the things they own and which hold value in their lives. It is important to include everything, including those things which hold just sentimental value rather than monetary value, because these hold value in other ways and can be just as appreciated, if not more, by those you leave behind when you die.