YOUR ESTATE PLAN
Will planning is the best-known component of the estate plan. Getting these affairs in order is a very personal way of showing your loved ones you care about them and their well-being. It will also make a difficult time a little easier for them, knowing exactly what your intentions are.
Will planning involves drawing up 3 important legal documents:
- A Will – enacted upon death, a Will provides instructions for the distribution of your estate as well as appointing an executor to act on your behalf. A current and complete Will outlines your intentions and can speak for you in your absence. It’s never too early to set one up – anyone over 18 years of age and “of sound mind” can draw up a legally binding Will. It doesn’t cost much to have one prepared by a lawyer or a notary and it can save a lot of headaches later on. Just like your financial plan, it’s a good idea to review your Will regularly to make sure it continues to meet your needs.
- An enduring power of attorney gives someone the authority to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so. Your attorney would carry out your business and legal affairs if you’re:
- Terminally ill
- Permanently unconscious
- Otherwise unfit, such as becoming mentally incompetent
Upon death, however, a power of attorney automatically ends. From then on, your affairs would be managed per the provisions of your Will.
- A living Will, sometimes referred to as a personal directive, is different from a regular will. It takes effect if you suffer a debilitating illness or injury and are unable to express your wishes. It effectively designated someone to manage non-financial matters, such as your personal care and health choices. It also gives instructions to your family and your doctors about the type of medical care you prefer.
For more information about Wills, refer to the Seniors Canada site or contact your lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, we can recommend one in your area.
Choosing an executor
Your executor is the person you name in your will to handle your estate. You can choose any reliable adult to be your executor. Usually, the best choice is a family member or a close friend, but you can also name a lawyer, a private trust company or the public trustee. This person’s responsibilities include:
- Paying debts and taxes
- Notifying government agencies of your death
- Cancelling credit cards, magazine subscriptions, etc.
- Closing bank accounts
- Dividing up your property according to your last wishes
You can make the executor’s job easier by keeping all the information they’ll need in one safe place in case of death or incapacity. Your Estate Planning Guide will give your Executor the key information needed to handle your estate.
Personal finance tips:
- Talk to your loved ones about your estate plan. It’s important for them to know how you want your estate handled and why you’ve made the choices you’ve made. This will reduce the potential for conflict or contesting your Will later on. Also, be sure to let them know how they can contact your executor.
- Make sure your insurance policy and retirement savings plan beneficiaries are up to date. These should be reviewed regularly as to avoid any delays in settling your estate
- Review the Estate Planning Checklist to make sure you’re not missing anything
Talk to your lawyer about:
- Ensuring your documents comply with applicable legislation
- Making any improvements to your plans
- Any other complex legal aspects of your personal situation
Talk to your accountant about:
- The more complex aspects of your personal situation, especially if you’ve got a lot of assets
Contact us today to get started or review your estate plan.