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Things to Know Before Your First Estate Planning Meeting: “What are your assets?”

Whether you have an abundance of assets, or very few, making a plan for what happens to them after your death could make things a little easier for the loved ones you leave behind. The best way to ensure that your assets are disposed of pursuant to your wishes is to hire a Denver estate planning attorney to draft a comprehensive estate plan. However, you should know a few simple things before you go into your estate planning meeting. This month, we will address three questions to which you should know the answer.

Today we ask: “What are your assets?”

The definition of an asset is “property owned by a person or company, regarded as having value and available to meet debts, commitments, or legacies”. A comprehensive estate plan will address & divide your assets into two categories, probate assets and non-probate assets. The biggest mistake that can be made in an estate plan is not identifying all the assets, how the assets are titled, or if the assets have a beneficiary designation associated with them. The best way to avoid this mistake is to put your assets into three “buckets”:

  1. Assets held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship—A joint tenant is the person who owns property with you, such as a spouse or partner. These assets pass directly to the surviving joint tenant at your death by operation of law, irrespective of what your will may provide.
  2. Assets with a beneficiary designation naming individual(s) as the beneficiary/ies—These pass directly to the beneficiary/ies at your death, irrespective of what your will may provide.
  3. Assets solely in your name with no beneficiary designation—disposition of these assets is governed by your will.

Your estate planning attorney will help you divide those assets into each “bucket”. It is also important to address any business interests you may hold, whether it is an LLC membership interest, limited or general partnership interests or corporate stock. It is essential to review the governing documents of the entity, as they may limit the ability to dispose of those assets at your death or they may limit the ability of your fiduciary to vote the interest.

If your assets are not addressed as part of a comprehensive estate plan, it could result in the disposition of your assets at death that is inconsistent with your wishes. The legal team at The Brown Law Firm, LLC can help you navigate these hard questions for your unique situation. Call today to arrange an appointment: (303) 339-3750 or visit our website.