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How to Make an Asset List and What to Include

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    Your estate plan is more than just your legal documents. It includes sharing useful information for your loved ones outside of your will.  

    One of the best ways to bolster your estate plan is by creating an asset list. An asset list helps your executor and loved ones identify and locate your belongings after you pass.

    Here are the steps for how to create an asset list for your loved ones.

    What is an asset list?

    An asset list is simply a list of all the assets that you own. Unlike a will, an asset list is not a legally-binding document but will serve as a blueprint for your loved ones. This is where you can make things easier on your family and executor by organizing key information they will need when closing up your estate.

    How Does An Asset List Help Your Executor?

    The executor of your will is responsible for helping to carry out all the wishes you’ve outlined in your last will and testament. They manage the settlement of your estate and help distribute assets to your beneficiaries.

    In your will, you’ll outline who you’d want your assets to go to (also known as your beneficiaries) and any specific assets you’d like to gift to someone special in your life. But an asset list helps your executor understand what other assets exist that need to be distributed.

    Your executor is also responsible for closing any key accounts and settling any debt, so having all the key information will make the process much simpler.

    What Should Be Included In An Asset List?

    Your asset list should include everything you own of sentimental or financial value. You’re probably thinking, “that’s a lot of things to list out!”. You don’t need to itemize every single thing in your home, but you should certainly account for the important things. This way your executor isn’t stuck running in circles trying to figure out what you owned at the time of your death.

    There are three main types of assets that should be included in your list of assets

    Physical assets

    Physical assets include things like property, vehicles, and other tangible items that you’d like to make your executor aware of.

    In your asset list, you should include key details around these physical assets. Including, how your executor can locate them, type of ownerships, specific details and more. Common physical assets include motorized vehicles, property, artwork etc.

    These don’t necessarily have to be items of high financial value. Even if you own collectibles or sentimental items, it will be helpful to outline these for your executor so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.

    Financial assets

    Your financial assets are accounts of financial value that you own. Financial assets can be tricky because your executor may not even know they exist. By providing the location of your accounts and financial assets as well a description of each account, its value and other relevant documentation, your executor will easily be able to connect with financial institutions when settling your estate.

    Some financial assets to include in your list of assets include:

    • Credit card accounts
    • Investment and savings accounts
    • Businesses interests (stocks and shares)
    • Pensions
    • Outstanding debt accounts (line of credits, loans)

    Remember, just because you don’t have significant financial assets, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a will. Learn more about why you need a will →

    Insurance assets

    Most Canadians hold several insurance policies. Similar to financial assets, it’s easy for these to go unnoticed or missed in the estate settlement process.

    Depending on the type of policy, some may be more or less important at the time of death.

    Some common types of insurance policies include:

    • Health insurance
    • Home/mortgage insurance
    • Life insurance
    • Loan insurance
    • Vehicle insurance

    Like your other assets, you'll want to include details such as the type of insurance, the insurance company, and broker information, if applicable.

    Remember that often insurance policies have beneficiaries appointed directly through your policy. While it’s important for your executor and loved-ones to be aware of these policies, they do not flow through your estate. The beneficiaries listed on the policy will supersede any wishes you’ve outlined in your will.

    Digital assets

    Digital assets include online accounts and digital property that hold sentimental or financial value to you. Some common digital assets to include in your asset list are:

    • Social media accounts
    • Email accounts
    • Cloud storage accounts
    • Online subscriptions and memberships
    • Dating profiles
    • Digital photos and videos

    Depending on the policies of the platforms, you may be able to provide login details and instructions in your asset list on how these accounts should be managed or closed.

    Other assets

    Your asset list should be as unique as you. While most assets fall under one of the above categories, you may have other assets you’d like your executor to be aware of.

    Some other things that can be included in an asset list include:

    • Sentimental items - for example, your favourite guitar, a piece of furniture, or a recipe
    • Crypto assets - including cryptowallet details

    How to Create an Asset List

    1. Decide how you want to create your asset list

    An asset list is a document that complements your will. It’s not a legal document so there is no set format that you need to follow. 

    At Willful, we’ve made creating asset lists easy by building it into our online platform. Follow the prompts and we’ll help you generate easy-to-follow asset list documents.

    Learn more about why you need a list of assets →

    2. Determine the items that need to be included in your asset list

    Your asset list should include everything you own of sentimental or financial value. You don’t need to list every single item you own, but if it’s important that it gets passed on – you should probably include it in your list.

    Common things to include in an asset list include:

    • Physical assets – including property, vehicles, collectible items of value etc.
    • Financial assets – including bank accounts, credit cards, investments, pensions etc.
    • Insurance assets – including life, home, health, mortgage etc.
    • Digital assets – including social media accounts, email accounts etc.

    For every item you should include key details around where they’re located, how your executor can access them, and any other specific details that will help settle your estate. With Willful asset lists,  we’ll walk you through the key details that you should consider including.

    Remember: Your asset list is not a legal document. If you would like to assign any assets as gifts to specific people, you will need to do this in the specific gifts section of your last will and testament. An asset list meant to complement your will to help your executor and loved ones navigate the estate settlement process. 

    3. Gather key documentation

    For some of your assets, your executor will benefit from having supporting documentation. Make sure to include copies of these documents to store with your asset list. This will assist your Executor with carrying out their responsibilities which include paying off estate debts, recovering money owed, paying your final tax return, and distributing assets and gifts to your beneficiaries.

    Some supporting documentation you may want to include:

    • Title and ownership documents for properties owned
    • Vehicle ownership and permit
    • Insurance policies

    4. Store your asset list in safe place

    Unlike your will and power of attorney documents, your executor doesn’t need to have the original copy of your asset lists. This means you can have multiple copies. One of the best places to store your asset list is with your last will and testament and other estate planning documents. This makes it simple for your executor to locate your documents.

    It’s important to communicate with your appointed executor and family so they know where all your key documents are located and how they can access them.

    5. Update your asset list

    Over time, your assets will likely change. When that happens, you should be updating your list of assets. With Willful, you can update your asset list (and other legal documents) easily, anytime!

    Remember – if you sell or purchase assets and update your list, destroy any older copies and let your loved ones know you’ve made an update. Otherwise, if your executor finds an outdated copy, they might end up on a wild goose chase looking for assets that no longer exist.

    Additional Considerations for Asset Lists

    1. Organizing assets can be easier if you sort them in asset list by category or beneficiary
    2. Remember to update digital asset permissions so your beneficiaries or executors have the legal ability to access them

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can You Just Include All Your Assets In Your Will?

    You do not need to specifically list out all your assets in your will. Your will already covers your umbrella estate (all the assets you own).

    While yes, you can theoretically list out all your assets in your will, a detailed list of assets is typically not included. Here are the two main reasons why you don’t list out all of your assets in your will:

    1. When your will goes through the probate process after you pass away, everything in your will becomes public domain. Listing out all your assets in your will, means that the public is able to know what assets you held at the time of your death. Most people don’t want this.
    2. Your list of assets changes often. By not including it in your will, it’s easier to make changes, since your asset list doesn’t need to be witnessed or signed. If everything is listed out in your will, you’ll need to update your will every time you purchase or sell an asset. This can get time consuming and costly, since every update to your will requires you to print, sign, and witness your documents.

    The only time you want to mention specific assets in your will, is if you’d like to make it a specific gift. (i.e. You want your red Corvette to go to your brother after you pass away.) Otherwise, everything else will be distributed as part of your residual estate according to your will .

    It’s best practice to store your detailed list of assets with your will. This will make it easier for your executor to locate.

    Can You Gift Assets To Loved Ones In Your Asset List?

    Your list of assets is not a legally-binding document. If you would like to assign any assets as gifts to specific people, you will need to do this in the specific gifts section of your last will and testament. An asset list meant to complement your will to help your executor and loved ones navigate the estate settlement process.

    Do You Need An Asset List For Your Will To Be Legal?

    No – your last will and testament is a separate document. As long as you’ve met the requirements for a will to be legally valid, your will is legal.

    While it’s not required to have an asset list for your will to be legal, the process of estate settlement can be complicated and time consuming. By creating a list of assets to store with your will, you’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing that your executor and loved ones have a blueprint to help them navigate the process.

    Ready to create your asset list? Willful helps you create your will and asset lists from the comfort of your home. Start for free today →

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