man taking an inventory

Benefits of Preparing an Inventory of Your Assets and Documents For Your Loved Ones

By Joshua Berkley

An estate planning inventory is a comprehensive list of all of an individual’s assets, liabilities, and other relevant information that will be essential for estate planning purposes. Creating an inventory can simplify the estate planning process, and is particularly useful in ensuring that all assets are considered when creating or updating a will, trust, or other estate planning documents.

In order to prepare a comprehensive estate planning inventory, you should think about laying out the following types of information to help your loved ones know what you have upon your death: 

Outline All of Your Personal Information 

You will want to keep a record of your full name, address, date of birth, social security number, names, and contact information of your immediate family members (spouse, children, etc.) 

List of Real Property

You will want to list all of the real estate that you own, including your primary residence, vacation homes, and rental properties.  For each piece of real estate, you will want to provide the address, current market value, mortgage amount (if any), and ownership details (for example, sole owner, and joint tenants).

List of Personal Property

You will want to include in your inventory all vehicles that you own (cars, boats, motorcycles), jewelry, art and collectibles, as well as any other valuable personal property.

List of financial accounts

It will be useful to maintain an inventory of bank accounts (checking, savings, CDs), retirement accounts (IRA, 401(k), pensions), brokerage and investment accounts, as well as annuities.

Outline all interests in business

Provide a listing of your ownership in all businesses or partnerships, as well as stocks or shares in private companies.

Life Insurance

Provide the policy details (company, policy number, beneficiaries), the death benefit amounts, as well as if there is a cash surrender value.

Listing of liabilities

You will want to keep a record of your personal loans, any credit card debt, or other outstanding debts.

Digital Assets

Keep a listing of all of your social media accounts, online banking or financial accounts, digital collections (for example., e-books, music), and email accounts, as well as your cryptocurrency wallets.

Keep your other important documents handy

You will want loved ones to be able to access all of the documents that you prepared in the event of your disability or death such as wills or trusts, a power of attorney, as well as health care directives of living wills, pre- or post-nuptial agreements, and if there are any divorce decrees.

Funeral and Burial Arrangements

Make sure you give instructions for your burial plans, as well as the location of burial plots or cremation urns.

Professional Advisors

List contact information for all of your financial advisors such as your attorney, accountant, financial planner, and insurance agent.

Safe Deposit Boxes

Make sure you leave instructions for the location and box number, the contents of the box, as well as access information.

Once you have gathered and documented all of this information, store it in a secure place (like a safe deposit box or a fireproof home safe). Remember to review and update the inventory periodically, especially after major life events like marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the acquisition or sale of major assets.

Keep in mind that if someone has a significant number of assets, multiple real estate properties, business interests, or other complex financial situations, it might be prudent to hire an attorney to ensure everything is accounted for and managed correctly.

Other reasons to hire an attorney would be if there are specific desires, such as setting up trusts for children or grandchildren, or certain charitable contributions that are desired to be made. If there is a large estate that may be subject to federal and state estate tax, an attorney can provide advice on ways to minimize or avoid these taxes.


An inventory of assets, liabilities, and important documents is vital to your estate planning. It will give your loved ones some peace of mind that they are aware of your possessions, and that they are doing the right thing to honor your wishes after you are gone.  An inventory might be done on your own, or you can enlist the aid of an attorney who might provide peace of mind that everything has been done correctly and that your loved ones will be taken care of after you are no longer with them. Contact Berkley Oliver if you would like assistance in compiling an inventory of your estate, and to help ensure that your estate plan remains updated in light of life changes or changes in the law.

About the Author
Josh Berkley is an attorney and owner at Berkley Oliver PLLC who helps individuals implement plans to protect their assets and their loved ones. Josh focuses his practice in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law.  From assisting young parents in making a plan to provide for their children, to helping senior clients qualify for Medicaid, Josh works with clients to create estate plans and life plans tailored to each person’s specific goals. He also helps clients with a wide variety of important legal documents such Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designations, and Living Wills. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Josh here.