Estate Planning

ORGANIZING YOUR ESTATE

Planning an estate isn't something exclusive to eccentric billionaires. Everyone should have some sort of estate plan in place to ensure their financial matters are resolved quickly and expediently, and their family and loved ones lose as little as possible to taxation.

How to manage money, property, and finances is a concern for many aging Canadians as they progress through the different life stages. They may worry about what will happen if they become unable to deal with their own finances. It is a good idea to plan ahead for a time when you may need help managing your affairs.

Two tools often used for managing financial affairs are Powers of Attorney and joint bank accounts. It is important to know how a Power of Attorney or a joint bank account works before you use them. There are risks and advantages to both. You should never feel pressured to sign a Power of Attorney or to open a joint bank account. Carefully consider all of your options before making any decisions.

POWERS OF ATTORNEY AND JOINT BANK ACCOUNTS


THE IMPORTANCE OF A WILL

The most important part of estate planning is ensuring that you have a valid, up-to-date will. If you die without a will, the government will distribute your estate in accordance with provincial law. Only a will can ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

The best and safest way to create a will is to work with an expert, as many do-it-yourself will packages can leave details open to legal interpretation. Your will should be updated periodically and in consultation with your professional advisor, especially as you acquire new assets. It's important to update your will if you have a new child and you should also be aware that if you marry, your existing will becomes invalid.

Distributing your estate is more complicated than simply dividing things among your heirs. You'll need to determine all of your assets from pensions, to investments, stocks and bonds, real estate and personal property. You'll also need to note which assets you own jointly as well as who the beneficiaries are for your RSPs and insurance policies.

Once this is done, decide on your goals. You'll obviously want to maximize the value of your assets and protect them as much as possible from taxation. You'll also want to make sure you have enough liquid assets to handle your liabilities so your heirs won't have to sell off physical or investment assets.

Gifting assets before your death and establishing trusts are two good ways to help protect your assets from taxation. However, keep in mind that both strategies can be complicated by the individual tax circumstances of your survivors.

We understand that no one looks forward to planning their estate. We also know how important it is to you and your family that it's done right.

HOW TO DISTRIBUTE YOUR ESTATE

 

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