There is nothing more personal than ensuring your future Estate is well-managed according to your wishes. Depending on the complexity of the Estate, to properly arrange your affairs you will likely need to work with several trusted professionals. Estate planning will allow you to make arrangements that meet your goals and provide sound guidance for your loved ones so that they don’t have to think about it while they will be navigating an emotional time.
The primary advisers that you will want on your team are as follows:
- Your Accountant/CPA: a CPA can help review your assets and determine whether any tax planning opportunities may be available to you, based on your personal situation. They can suggest strategies to minimize tax upon death as well as potentially after death, and identify areas for optimization based on your assets and beneficiaries.
- Your Financial Advisor: consulting with your financial advisor allows you to proactively manage your assets so they last your lifetime and beyond, for your surviving family members. If your intention is to give charitably, you may want to explore the possibility of gifting investments.
- Your Insurance Professional: life insurance should be adequate to create sufficient capital to replace your income and to fund the tax payable on death, thereby preserving the capital for your family. An insurance professional will often have products that are good investments which can supplement your portfolio in a tax efficient manner. If your intention is to give charitably, you may want to explore the possibility of gifting life insurance policies.
- Your Notary or Attorney: an attorney or notary will help you draft your will to reflect your wishes for the distribution of your assets among family members, charitable organizations, and others as you so desire. If you are a resident of Quebec, we recommend that your will be prepared by a Quebec notary, rather than an attorney. This avoids the need to have the will approved by the court, and helps shorten delays. Having a properly drafted will is an important step in avoiding lengthy delays with settling your affairs. One of the key items when drafting your will is naming your executor(s). Your executor(s) will be entrusted with the management of your Estate. An attorney or notary can also prepare a mandate, which can be helpful in cases of illness or incapacity.
When circumstances in your life change it is important to revisit your will and estate planning with your professional advisors, to determine whether any adjustments are required. For instance, marriages, divorces, new children or grandchildren, or the acquisition or disposition of significant investments are all opportunities to gauge whether a re-evaluation is required. Adjustments, or codicils, as they are often referred to, can easily be added to a will, to reflect any changes you may want to make as time goes on.
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If you have any questions about how to properly arrange your affairs, please do not hesitate to consult one of our Estates and Trusts specialists.