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How are you managing physical assets for an estate?

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, people are trending toward taking greater control of their own estates. Yet, the vast majority still seek guidance from family offices and other experts on matters ranging from changing tax laws to socially conscious investing and succession planning. However, the aspect of estate management they often the most need help with is also the one they tend to neglect: their physical assets. How are you managing physical assets for an estate? This goes far beyond their homes to include items packed away in their basements and offsite storage units, all of which are part of their portfolio and can have an enormous impact on net worth. Here are some ways in which family offices can improve the management of an estate or property, and how all-in-one digital tools can help them do it.

The first step is to take a thorough accounting of all assets, even those the client may not notice or consider significant, such as the kitchen appliances, audiovisual equipment, and even clothes. If this sounds like a daunting task, it is, especially if these things are spread out across multiple residences, but all-in-one solutions make it far less so.  As the client or a trusted third-party (i.e. assessor) goes through everything, they can create a virtual library within the tool, complete with photos and information on the condition and value of each item, that can be shared with you.

  • Saving money – Once you know exactly what the client has, you can create schedules to take care of those assets. These can be the obvious things, such as winterizing a beach property, to caring for things that will otherwise drop in value, such as a rarely driven classic car, artwork, or vintage couture gowns.  
  • Making Money: By the same token, keeping track of your client’s physical assets will help them grow their net worth. Let’s say they bought a painting fifteen years ago from a then-unknown artist and has it stored in their basement. Now you learn that the artist has passed away, which drives up the value of their work. Because you are aware (via the virtual catalog) that your client has this painting, you can advise them to sell it or to consult with an art expert.
  • Reducing Risk – How are you managing physical assets for an estate? This is especially important for clients who have monetized their property by getting into agriculture, using it as an Airbnb or Vrbo, or renting outbuildings on the property. Having a clear system for managing and tracking assets makes it easier to identify and address any potential risks, such as machinery that is not working properly or structures that need to be repaired before the guests arrive.
  • Everyday convenience:  One of the most important services family offices provide is making busy people’s lives easier. Having this virtual library at your fingertips enables you and your client to find what you need when you need it, whether this is something they want to sell or take on vacation. Just as important, you can discuss items via the EstateSpace’s secure messaging, which saves them time and energy of having to jump between emails, text messages and phone calls.  

There are many reasons people choose to form or hire a family office, but they usually boil down to two – saving time to spend with their families, and preserving their wealth for generations to come. Helping them organize and maintain their physical assets, and using all-in-one solution such as EstateSpace to do so, will go a long way to accomplishing both tasks, and ensuring that your clients are prepared to weather any challenge.