A personal estate refers to everything you own; your assets both tangible and intangible. This includes properties, investments, savings, jewelry, cars, furniture, and even intellectual property rights. Understanding what constitutes your personal estate is the first step towards effectively evaluating it. An inventory of all assets will be your initial task, which will require patience and meticulous record keeping.
Real estate properties are often the most significant part of one's personal estate. Evaluating these properties accurately is crucial for the overall valuation. Appraisals should be carried out by certified professionals who will consider factors such as the property's location, size, condition, and the market prices of similar properties in the same area. The appraised value of each property should be noted for your records.
Next, you'll need to assess your financial assets, which include savings and checking accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and any other investment assets. You can easily determine the value of these assets by checking your most recent statements. For stocks, mutual funds, and bonds, the current market value should be used. If you have an investment in a private business, you might need a business appraiser to determine its worth.
Personal belongings such as cars, jewelry, art, furniture, and other household items also contribute to the value of your estate. For cars, online resources can help you determine the fair market value. For valuable items such as jewelry and art, consider hiring a professional appraiser to ensure an accurate valuation. Remember, it's not about what you paid for an item, but its current worth.
If you own intellectual property like patents, trademarks, or copyrights, these should also be included in your personal estate valuation. Intellectual property can have significant value, but determining this value can be complex. It often involves estimating the potential revenue that the intellectual property could generate in the future. Professional services are available to help with this kind of assessment.
Your personal estate's value isn't just based on your assets—it also takes into account your debts and liabilities. This could include mortgages, loans, credit card debts, or any other obligations you have. Subtracting your total liabilities from your total assets will give you the net worth of your personal estate. Make sure you have the most recent statements for these to get an accurate picture.
Remember that the evaluation of your personal estate is not a one-time process. The values of assets fluctuate over time due to factors such as market dynamics, depreciation, and physical condition. Thus, regular reviews and updates of your estate's value are necessary. This practice not only keeps your records up to date, but it can also inform your decisions about managing your estate and planning for the future.
Though evaluating your personal estate can be done individually, it's often beneficial to involve professionals, particularly when dealing with high-value or complex assets. An accountant, financial advisor, appraiser, and an estate planning attorney specializing in estate planning can provide valuable guidance. They can ensure that you're adhering to legal guidelines, and they can offer strategies for managing your estate more effectively and potentially reducing estate tax liabilities.