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3 Steps to Determine the Value of Your Estate

Plus, Bonus Charts

As part of the estate planning process, it’s important to determine what you own and to calculate the value of your estate. By properly estimating your estate size, you can plan for the future and leave your loved ones better prepared.

Many of the assets in your estate also make tax-savvy charitable gifts. It’s simple to give many of these assets to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in your will or through a beneficiary designation. We’d be happy to work with you on the best opportunity for your situation.

Here’s how to determine your estate size:

Step 1: Inventory Your Major Assets

Assets can include many items, such as cash, stocks, retirement accounts, real estate, and life insurance policies.

Step 2: Determine How and With Whom Your Assets Are Owned

Ownership generally falls into three categories: solely owned, jointly owned with rights of survivorship, and tenancy in common. Owning an asset with your brother, for example, is different than owning an asset with your spouse. Also, married couples who live in community property states have additional record-keeping requirements.

If you are unsure how your assets are owned, review the title of each asset. This information can typically be found in the deed, title, or account information. If you are still unsure, ask your attorney or financial advisor.

Assets Owned by you alone Owned by your spouse Owned jointly (or in community)
Other real estate
Bank accounts, certificates of deposit, money market funds
Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
Closely held business interests
Partnership ventures
Notes, mortgages owed to you
Retirement funds
Life insurance face value
Furniture, jewelry, collections, etc.
Automobiles, boats, etc.
Other assets
Total assets

Step 3: Calculate Your Debts

Debts are subtracted from the value of your assets at your passing. Common debts include mortgages on a primary residence or vacation house, equity loans, and credit card balances. Vehicle loans and other loans are also calculated here.

In addition, your estate itself will incur legal fees and other expenses that will reduce the amount of your estate subject to taxation.

To figure out your net estate, subtract total liabilities from total assets.

Liabilities Owned by you alone Owned by your spouse Owned jointly (or in community)
Loans, installment debts
Current bills
Taxes owed
All other liabilities
Total liabilities

We Can Help!

We would be happy to work with you on how your assets can be part of your charitable legacy at MSK. Some even provide tax breaks when given to a nonprofit like ours. Please contact the Office of Planned Giving at 800-688-1827 or to find the smartest options for your portfolio.