How Much Are You Worth?

January 24, 2013 Updated: October 1, 2015


Old furniture bench
Simone Laudehr sits on an old bench in her living room during a photocall on October 6, 2010 in Straelen, Germany. (Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

When beginning to prepare for planning your estate, it is a good idea to inventory your property. The decision on how to estimate your worth is a matter of preference.

If you are contemplating whether or not to itemize your property in detail or come up with a simple estimate of your overall worth, consider the circumstances.

For example, if you intend to leave all of your property to your spouse or one person, perhaps the overall estimate approach will suffice. But remember, if your estate is combined with your spouses’s estate, some tax planning may be necessary depending on your state’s laws.

On the other hand, if you intend to leave several gifts to many different people, an itemization approach is probably better.

In either case, you should make yourself a list of tasks to complete in order to make a reasonable estimate or to ensure you have included all possible types of property.

Your checklist should include:

  1. Make a list of what you own.
  2. Make a list of your debts.
  3. Subtract your debts from your assets and estimate the net value of your estate as an aid for                estate tax considerations.
  4. Determine whether ownership of any of your property is shared with another owner.
  5. Make a list of all beneficiaries you want to leave gifts to and what the gift is or how much it is worth.
  6. Make sure your assets are all in order, including deeds, bank accounts, investment papers, personal possessions, etc., and contact a financial planner if necessary.
  7. Make sure that you keep all of your lists and important papers together in a safe place in case you want to consult an estate planning attorney.

If you are not the organized type, you can access worksheets available on line or in books that will get you on the right track, or you can consult an estate planning attorney for guidance.

With a little planning, you might be surprised to learn that you are worth more than you think. Even though you prefer to live frugally and do not purchase anything of substantial value, you could be surprised to learn that the old family furniture you continue to use is now valuable antiques.

Information contained in this article is not intended to be legal advice nor applicable to all situations. For legal assistance, contact an attorney in your state of residence. You can visit Arleen’s website at

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