What Are Personal Assets?

Personal assets are items of value that belong to an individual. Personal assets can also be any other thing with cash value. When individuals go to a bank or other institution to apply for loans, such personal assets and their values are often considered. Personal assets are also the bedrock of the formula for net worth for consumers. When talking about personal finance, an individual's wealth can be measured in terms of the total value of the property and cash they own.

The value of people's personal assets can be higher than they expect. This often surprises them — many different items can be included under this label, including:

  • Tangible property
  • Intangible property

There are many personal assets that are material and easy to measure. It is better to spread around an individual's wealth into a variety of different assets so that if one suffers or decreases in value, some of the other assets may offset this by outperforming or increasing in value.

Assets that have a value that cannot be easily accessed are also included in the personal assets category. Financial experts warn against placing all or the majority of personal assets into a single asset type or location. Other items of value that would be included in a list of personal assets cover such items as:

  • Antiques
  • Art collections
  • Electronics
  • Personally-owned businesses
  • Other valuable items

It is also true that these assets can prove to be a liability if they are not well taken care of or managed. Personal assets are also sometimes able to create income for their owners.

What Are Some Examples of Personal Assets?

Cash accounts and financial accounts are some of the most common personal assets that people think of. Money saved in a bank is typically better than cash on hand.

Real estate, such as homes, land, or other buildings, are other common personal assets for people. The value in these structures is known as equity. Equity is the value of the home subtracted from the amount of the mortgage on the home. A home valued at $200,000 with $80,000 left on the mortgage equals $120,000 of equity.

Besides real estate, personal items that are worth money are considered assets. Cars, jewelry, electronics, and antiques are some examples of personal assets. The value of these kinds of assets are hard to determine because they may sell for more or less than what an appraiser values.

Investments like shares of stock and other financial investments are also considered assets.

How Do I Protect My Personal Assets?

Creating a legal entity is the best way to protect your personal assets. Without one, your business is seen as a sole proprietorship or partnership and leaves it and your assets vulnerable to lawsuits. In a lawsuit, personal assets may be used to settle debts or liabilities related to a business.

How Do I List My Personal Assets?

Two common ways to make a personal assets list include:

  • By hand
  • Electronically using a spreadsheet or other programs

An electronic assets list makes updating or changing it easier. Including personal information that is unique to each asset helps to link the assets to you in the documentation. Some of this information includes details like executors of a will, email account information, passwords for bills, profiles, and other websites related to assets.

Details about each asset are vital. The more that are included, the better. Organize them by category in order to keep them straight, organized, and easy to locate when they need to be found.

In addition to tangible assets, information about deeds, titles, insurance policies, and so forth should be included. People who are authorized to handle these assets should also be included.

How Do I Protect My List of Assets?

The most important way to keep your assets safe is to prepare for an emergency. This most often means listing family and friends who are authorized to handle the assets within the list. To keep your property safe, you should keep or scan as many receipts as possible, especially on high-ticket items. Any information that proves ownership should also be maintained.

If you need help with personal assets, you can post your legal needs on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.