Assess your assets

Preparing an inventory of the assets you own can help you get ready for retirement.

By John Wasiliev - 3 min read

A little about John

John Wasiliev writes on personal finance specialising in superannuation and self managed super funds, managed funds and trusts.

Recently, my wife and I embarked on a revision of our wills.  

The principal reason for this change was the retirement of the lawyer who prepared our current wills: one of several changes in circumstances that might prompt someone to update their will.  

Where you rely on professional advisers to help with your financial and retirement affairs, as many of us do, it is quite common for them to retire as both you and they age. 

Our lawyer helpfully recommended a replacement law firm to take over the role of advising us on our estate planning affairs. When we contacted the new law firm, the first thing we were invited to do was to complete a detailed checklist designed to identify all our assets. 

The main purpose of preparing this asset inventory was to allow us to decide who in our family and among our friends will be the beneficiaries of those assets.  

It will allow us to reconsider who—in addition to each other—should act as trustees and executors of our estate on our deaths with the responsibility of carrying out the directions in our wills. Our new wills are likely to see our now adult children taking on some of these roles in place of close friends and older family members who are currently prominent.  

Added benefits of an asset inventory  

Preparing this list of assets has an added benefit of allowing us to better consider our assets as part of our retirement planning. It is creating the opportunity to review our financial affairs and consider where they stand at our current stage of life—still working but steadily moving toward retirement—and to prepare our own checklist of things to do before we retire. 

Our list of things to do as we head towards retirement may see us looking into opportunities to top up our super should they arise, especially given that since July last year it is now possible to make contributions up to the age of 75.  

We might consider making downsizer contributions to super from the sale of the family home. This allows significant amounts to be directed into super, potentially when you are well into your retirement.  

Organise your records  

Coming up with an up-to-date checklist of assets has also caused us to think about how to make better use of this information.  

A list of assets should include other information about those assets—like historical records that relate to them. This might include each other’s superannuation access records and copies of super death benefit nominations.  

We’ve therefore decided that keeping all this all together in one location would be a useful strategy not just for will preparation purposes, but also as a record of where we are and want to be in the future. 

One piece of advice I have followed since I first started investing shares years ago was that when you buy shares you should write down the main reason you bought them. In other words, what you expect from your investments. That way you’ll be able to compare an investment’s performance against your expectations.  

I believe this same approach can be applied when planning your retirement. Noting the purpose of holding each asset can help to compare your goals to the outcomes you are achieving and to make changes, if needed.  

checklist assesment

A checklist for your assets

  • Prepare a list of the assets you own 
  • Look for opportunities to top up your super 
  • Consider whether to move or downsize your home 
  • Organise the paperwork relating to each of your assets – including your super 
  • Write down the reasons why you hold each asset 
  • Keep track of whether your assets are achieving your goals. Adjust if necessary. 

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of Russell Investments.

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