Goodwill is a long-term (or noncurrent) asset categorized as an intangible asset. Goodwill arises when a company acquires another entire business. The amount of goodwill is the cost to purchase the business minus the fair market value of the tangible assets, the intangible assets that can be identified, and the liabilities obtained in the purchase.
The amount in the Goodwill account will be adjusted to a smaller amount if there is an impairment in the value of the acquired company as of a balance sheet date. (Private companies may opt to amortize goodwill generally over a 10-year period and thereby minimize the cost and complexity involved with testing for impairment.)