GETTING STARTED ON YOUR ESTATE PLAN
Depending on the complexity of your estate, you may require the services of a lawyer, a financial advisor, an accountant, an insurance agent or a trust officer. Developing a complete estate will require much more than a Will. Depending on your personal situation, you may wish to consider a combination of the following:
WILL – the core document in your estate plan that identifies an executor, distributes your assets and names a guardian for your minor children.
TRUST – is established to take care of assets you don’t want transferred immediately after your death or to manage investments for beneficiaries who are incapable of doing so themselves.
LIFE INSURANCE – can help ensure that your heirs receive the maximum inheritance out of your estate as estate assets may be depleted by funeral expenses or final taxes.
POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR PROPERTY – allows a trusted family member or friend to make financial decisions for you should you become incapacitated, but only while you’re alive.
SUBSTITUTE DECISION MAKING FOR HEALTH AND PERSONAL CARE – sets out your preferences for and allows a trusted family member or friend to make health and personal care decisions if you’re unable to express them yourself. This may touch on continuing life support and similar important decisions.
ORGAN DONOR CARDS – is an official statement of whether you would like your organs to be donated to someone who would benefit from a transplant. You will also need to discuss this with your family as doctors may need their consent as well.
FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS – helps decide how you would like to be remembered as well as the disposition of your remains.
BUSINESS SUCCESSION PLAN – decides what will happen with a business you own in part or whole. There are complex rules regarding selling a business or passing it to heirs.
TAX PLANNING – in Canada there are no “estate taxes” – taxes owed on the entire value of an estate. However, your estate may be subject to probate or income taxes. These are paid out of your estate, reducing the amount paid to your heirs. Probate cost and income taxes should be taken into account when planning your estate.