An aging North American population has created a growing need for individuals to plan and think about the transfer of assets to their family and loved ones. Estate Planning is a very important pillar of managing your overall wealth as it arranges for the administration of a person’s estate before and after death while minimizing taxation as efficiently as possible. A well thought out estate plan ensures that your family is cared for and your money goes where you want it to.
Here are 5 simple steps to creating an estate plan:
- Outline your intentions – An estate plan is very personal. It depends on the complexity of your estate and your overall intentions. Start by outlining your objectives and thinking about how you would like your estate to get administered if you were to pass away today. Determine who you would like to leave your assets to and how much you would like to leave behind. Think about who you would like to manage your finances or make healthcare choices on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
- Consider your options – Once your intentions are outlined, examine your options around how best to achieve them. Think about whether or not your beneficiaries can manage the estate on their own. If you own a family business, ensure that a succession plan is considered. Don’t get bogged down on the details of how to implement the plan as this can cause ‘analysis paralysis’ and prevent you from moving forward. Leave the implementation details to your team of professionals.
- Meet with your professionals – Make sure that your investment adviser, accountant, and lawyer clearly understand your intentions. They will be able to provide you with solutions to achieve your estate objectives, such as: whether a trust should be considered, transferring assets tax efficiently, and ensuring a succession plan ties into the estate plan. Work with your professionals to put the best plan in place that reflects your personal wishes.
- Create a Will and Power of Attorney – Passing away without a Will results in your assets being distributed according to provincial legislation. Your intentions may not be followed and it will likely result in additional time and legal fees for your loved ones. After you have spoken with your team of professionals, create a Will that will ensure your estate plan is followed. Taking great care in appointing capable representatives, powers of attorney, executors, guardians and trustees for your estate.
- Review regularly and talk with your family – Developing your estate plan can be difficult because it requires facing your own mortality. However, once your estate plan is complete, it is best practice to review your Will and POA every two to five years to ensure that your intentions are still being addressed. In addition, talk openly about it with family members to ensure that they understand the principles that guided your decisions. If they understand why you’ve created the plan you have, there is a lower potential for hurt, harm and misunderstandings surrounding your estate after you’re gone.
Cattelan Private Wealth Counsel Team