What is an asset’s useful life?
Useful Life is the estimated lifespan of a depreciable fixed assets during which it can be expected to contribute to company operations. This is an important concept in accounting, since a fixed asset is depreciated over its useful life. Thus, altering the useful life has a direct impact on the amount of depreciation expense recognized per period.
As an example of useful life, a fixed asset is purchased at a cost of $10,000. The company controller estimates its useful life to be five years, which means that the business will recognize $2,000 of depreciation expense per year in each of the next five years. If the controller had instead stated a useful life of six years, the annual depreciation would instead have been $1,667.
Useful life usually refers to the duration for which the item will be useful (to the business), and not how long the property will actually last. Many factors affect a property’s useful life, including the frequency of use, the age when acquired and the repair policy and environmental conditions of the business.