Estate Planning Tips

A Will makes sure your assets are distributed quickly and in the manner you desire, and that your loved ones lose as little as possible to the tax man. Following are some estate planning strategies to consider:

  • The core of any estate plan is a valid, up-to-date Will. Your Will legally establishes what you want done with your assets.
  • If you die without a Will, your estate will be distributed according to the laws in your province of residence.  And unfortunately, the results may bear little resemblance to how you would like to see your assets divided.
  • To draw up an effective Will, it is wise to seek expert counsel. If you draft it yourself, you may inadvertently leave some areas open to challenge. Take the case of a woman who wrote in her do-it-yourself Will that she wanted all of her “cash” to go to her son. The Will was tied up for years as the courts tried to determine whether “cash” meant investments such as GICs.
  • It is also important that your Will be up-to-date. The value of your assets will change over time, and you will probably acquire new assets as well as sell others. Your Will should reflect these changes. A Will should be reviewed with your professional advisor every three to five years and updated as necessary.
  • You should always review your Will if there has been a major change in your life, such as a marriage, divorce, or birth of a child.

Once you have made your Will … Does your family know …

  • Where your Will is located?
  • Name & address of your Executor?
  • Name & address of your accountant?
  • Name & address of your lawyer?
  • Name & address of your life insurance agent?
  • Where your life insurance policies are located?
  • Where you duplicate tax returns are located?
  • Where the house or cottage deed is located?
  • Where your valuables and legal documents are located?
  • Where the key to your safety deposit box is kept?
  • Where your safety deposit box is located

Planning takes a little time, however, the time spent will give you and your family peace of mind.

Colleen Bradley, President, Planned Giving Solutions Inc.