If you’re like many people, you want to take more control of your estate management, rather than solely relying on professionals. To do so, however, requires more than learning about stock portfolios and trusts; you must also have an understanding of the true value of your physical holdings – from homes, boats and other “big ticket” items to long-forgotten trinkets in the attic or basement. You may find junk there, you may discover a priceless family heirloom; either way, you will gain the most important tool in your financial arsenal: knowledge. Digital tools empower you to utilize that knowledge, not just for more financial security but a more streamlined lifestyle as well.
If you’re already feeling overwhelmed at the thought, know this: taking that initial inventory is, by far, the most arduous step in the process. Once you know what you have, you can easily upload the information to an all-in-one solution, creating a virtual catalogue that you can access 24/7 from your smart phone or other devices. Ideally, this catalogue will include important information about each asset, such as its manufacturer and other pertinent history (i.e. previous owners and sale prices), as well as its current condition. You can also upload photos to provide further evidence of authenticity and value.
Creating this digital catalogue also allows you to better manage these assets on a daily basis. Let’s say you own multiple residences, each with its own staff or estate management team. Obviously you can’t be everywhere at once, so you find yourself constantly having to reach out to employees to make sure everything is taken care of, from making sure your kids’ favorite foods are in the fridge when your family arrives for the summer to scheduling maintenance for the ’69 GTO in the garage. All-in-one solutions eliminate the need for phone calls or multiple emails and texts back and forth. You simply assign specific tasks within the platform, set deadlines, and give access to your staff, contractors and vendors. They in turn can update you on their progress, either by checking off a completed task or sending you photos, which is especially useful if you are having renovations or new landscaping done. Moreover, the messaging feature within these platforms allows you to easily communicate with others more efficiently, and with less chance of misunderstandings.
One of the biggest advantages is the ability to engage with fully vetted professionals who can assist you with the care and managements of your assets. EstateSpace, for example, provides access within its platform to affiliate partners, from appraisers who will assess the value of a particular item to companies that can find you reliable staff and events planners.
Finally, digitally transforming your estate will give you peace of mind when it comes to succession planning. First, knowing the true value of your holdings can help you determine what, if any, specific bequests you want to make in your will. In fact, it can open up an honest dialogue, perhaps for the first time, between you and your heirs about their inheritance. Second, it will help them handle your estate after you’re gone. This is not about being morbid, but pragmatic. Wouldn’t you rather your loved ones access necessary information from a device, instead of sifting through boxes?
Though the length of time will depend on your particular circumstances, it’s safe to say that digitally transforming your estate will not happen overnight. However, when you consider the benefits, both in terms of estate management and quality of life, it is well worth the effort. Who knows? Inventorying your assets may lead to the discovery of a hidden treasure, or at least a fun trip down memory lane.