You’ve worked hard your whole life to provide for your family. But if you don’t have a solid grasp on the worth of your estate, you could be setting your family up for undue hardship.

Only 44% of Americans have a will in place to manage their affairs when they’re gone. If you’re one of these people, or you have an out-of-date or incomplete plan, then your family could have an especially hard time when you’re no longer with them. Understanding exactly what your estate consists of can be an important first step in continuing to look after your family.

Wagering with a guess

Take a thorough dive into your assets to make sure you cover your bases:

  • Debts: Calculating your estate isn’t just about knowing how much your estate is worth, but how much you’ll owe. Debts aren’t likely to disappear when you pass on. Your administrator will be responsible for paying off the money your estate owes, or your loved ones may even be on the hook in certain cases.
  • Ownership: Determining your property now is likely a lot easier than leaving it for your heirs to figure out without you. You’ve probably got a better grasp on what resides where, while your estate administrator may be stuck digging for clues.
  • Distribution: Deciding who gets what from your estate can be next to impossible if nobody knows what’s in it. Plus, distributing incorrect amounts could mean more time in probate. This might delay payments, cost more money and lead to undirected funds getting distributed according to state laws.
  • Taxes: Even though Delaware no longer levies an estate tax, the federal government could still jump in if your assets qualify. Getting an accurate idea of your property, how much you’ve gifted and who’s on the receiving end can all be important things to consider when navigating taxes.

Knowing the ins and outs of your estate can go a long way toward getting a good plan together. Get your assets in a row to get started crafting your directives, and you could be ensuring you’re looking after your family for years to come.