Living in the moment is a great mindset, but planning for the future is equally important when it comes to your estate and end-of-life decisions. This quick start guide will help you understand what’s needed to ensure your loved ones are protected and your legacy is intact, so you can rest easy and get back to enjoying the present.
An estate is everything you own (or owe): both your assets and your debts, at the time of your passing. In Canada we do not have estate taxes, but most provinces charge fees to process (or in legal terms “probate”) your will. These fees are based on the value of your assets.
If you pass without a will, the government simply distributes your estate according to provincial law. Having a will ensures that your wishes are clearly documented and honoured.
A will is the most important document in estate planning. It ensures everything you want done with your estate happens the way in which you want it to. In your will you’ll name executors (people who carry out the instructions outlined in your will) and beneficiaries (people who will receive parts of your estate).
Estate planning will help you make the right choices for your life’s work, and should be part of your financial planning: ensuring your beneficiaries are taken care of when you pass, that financial affairs are resolved quickly, and lose as little as possible to taxation.
You’ll want to review and amend your will as large life changes happen, whether it’s the purchase of a business, another property, or the birth of a child.
There are also tools and investment vehicles you can use to bypass probate tax and ensure your funds go directly to your beneficiaries, to support the organizations you care most about, such as charities, hospital foundations, environmental funds, etc. That’s where a dedicated advisor comes in. You’ll want to ensure proper planning and designation is in place.
End-of-life planning can be daunting, no matter what your age. By ensuring you have a plan in place, you’ll feel confident that your assets, your loved ones and your priorities are reflected and protected, and your legacy can live on in whatever way feels right for you.
We help our members customize plans that fit their lives, as well as help identify key areas where they might need additional professional advice. We have a network of experts, and can refer you to an experienced estate and trust lawyer to prepare your legal documents (like your will) for you.
These articles are made available to you as tools for independent use and are not intended to provide investment advice. We cannot and do not guarantee their applicability or accuracy. All examples are hypothetical and are for illustrative purposes only. Please visit your branch to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals for all personal finance issues.