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When you pass away, you want your loved ones to be taken care of financially. Therefore, you’re interested in acquiring assets you can leave them that will do just that.

If you think you’re behind with this process, you’re not. Simply getting your estate planning started puts you ahead of most people. Only one in three Americans have an estate plan, according to’s 2023 Wills and Estate Planning Study. Despite this, 64% believe having a will is important.

Right now, you know you want to leave your nearest and dearest assets that that will set them up for success, but you’re not sure what exactly that means.

“The best assets to leave for heirs depend on various factors, including your financial goals, risk tolerance, tax situation and family circumstances,” said Blake Whitten, financial advisor at Whitten Retirement Solutions.

Therefore, creating a personalized plan is a must, as there’s no one-size-fits all solution to estate planning.

“It’s important to assess your overall financial situation and consider how each asset aligns with your objectives and the needs of your heirs,” he said. “Additionally, tax implications can vary significantly depending on your country of residence, so it’s essential to work with a knowledgeable financial advisor or estate planner to navigate the complexities effectively.”

Whitten recommended taking these nine common assets into consideration.

Estate Planning and Trusts

If you don’t currently have your estate in order, it’s time to formalize your plans.

“Proper estate planning is crucial to ensure a smooth transfer of assets to heirs,” he said. “Creating a revocable living trust can help avoid probate, minimize estate taxes and maintain privacy.”

Life Insurance

Just over half — 52% — of American adults have life insurance, according to a 2023 study conducted by nonprofit industry trade associations LIMRA and Life Happens. Of those who are insured and those who are not, 41% believe they don’t have sufficient coverage.

“Life insurance policies, particularly whole life or universal life policies, can provide a tax-free death benefit to beneficiaries,” he said. “This can be beneficial if you have significant financial obligations or want to leave a specific amount to your heirs.”

Real Estate

“Property ownership can be a valuable asset to pass on to heirs,” he said. “Real estate tends to appreciate over time and rental properties can generate ongoing income for beneficiaries.”

Whether you pass down your primary home, a vacation home or rental properties, this can be a great way to bestow wealth onto your heirs.

Stocks and Bonds

“Equities and fixed-income investments can provide potential long-term growth and income,” he said. “Consider gifting or transferring shares to heirs to take advantage of stepped-up cost basis rules and potentially reduce estate taxes.”

You can easily pass on more than you originally invested, making this a savvy option.

Retirement Accounts

Chances are, you’ve been putting money aside for retirement for years — maybe even decades — so make a loved one your beneficiary.

“Leaving traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs or 401(k)s to heirs allows them to inherit tax-advantaged accounts,” he said. “However, the rules governing inherited retirement accounts changed in 2020, so consulting with a financial advisor is essential to understand the implications.”

529 College Savings Plans

“If you have children or grandchildren, contributing to a 529 plan can be a great way to support their education while taking advantage of potential tax benefits,” he said.

In the 2021-22 academic year, the average cost of room and board at a public, four-year institution was $26,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Even more expensive, this number rose to $32,000 at private for-profit institutions and $55,800 at private nonprofit institutions.

Therefore, this is clearly an asset that will be greatly appreciated.


If you want to leave money to a loved one, but don’t necessarily want to give them a large lump sum, an annuity can be the answer.

“Certain types of annuities offer guaranteed income streams that can be passed on to beneficiaries,” he said. “However, be cautious of surrender charges and fees associated with annuities.”

Business Interests

“If you own a business, planning for its succession is essential,” he said. “Transferring ownership to family members or key employees can ensure its continuity.”

Opting for this route allows you to ensure your loved ones can earn a living, while keeping your legacy alive.

Cash and Liquid Assets

“Leaving cash and other liquid assets gives heirs flexibility and immediate access to funds for various needs or emergencies,” he said.

Of course, you’ll want to be certain the person(s) you leave the money to has the ability to spend — or save — it wisely.

Ultimately, estate planning looks different for every person — or couple. Meeting with a financial advisor is a smart way to ensure your affairs are in the order you want them, so you can take care of the people you love most well after you pass away.

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