Protecting your Loved Ones
In times of crises, we are all reminded that life is precious and that it is important to protect our families and others who are close to us. However, one of the most overlooked aspects in wealth management is estate planning. Many individuals may postpone estate planning because of the emotional aspects involved or to avoid addressing difficult decisions.
It is important that your Will is up to date and particularly important to ensure you have a power of attorney in place to manage investments in the case of incapacity. Lack of an updated Will or power of attorney could not only result in unnecessary expenses, but increase the anxiety experienced by family members who may have to deal with legal issues during a time of stress.
Estate planning is an integral part of wealth management and is as important as a sound investment strategy in providing financial security. In thinking about your overall financial plan, consider the following:
You should have a valid Will in place to ensure that you decide how your property will be distributed after your death. If you don’t have a Will, your province of residence has rules to determine who is entitled to your property. There will also be significant additional costs and delays in administering your estate.
Your Will should plan for both the expected and the unexpected. You should have a plan that contemplates your spouse and children surviving you, but have you planned for the event that, for example, one of your children dies leaving a young grandchild to provide for?
Review your Will every five years to ensure that it is still suitable. More frequent reviews might be required if your circumstances suddenly change – such as a death or birth of a child. Note that marriage may result in revocation of your Will. Appoint an executor who is trustworthy, knowledgeable and can spend the time required to properly administer your estate.
Consider appointing a trust company to act as executor or co-executor if suitable persons are not available. You should inform your executor of your wishes and ensure they can easily access your original Will – don’t keep the original in a safety deposit box if you are the only person who has access to it!
It is best to use a lawyer who specializes in estate planning to prepare your Will, particularly if your estate is large or complex. Speak with your lawyer to identify planning opportunities that can help you save tax for your estate and your beneficiaries and add to their financial security.
Consider whether you need or should purchase more life insurance to provide additional financial security for your family.
What does "Estate Preservation” mean to you? For many of us, estate preservation means being able to pass along our hard-earned assets intact to our children and grandchildren. For many people, assets might include a family property that has been passed down through the generations. It can also mean ensuring your family’s financial security in times of crisis.
Everybody has an estate. Substantial or modest the issues to consider are essentially the same.
How will you preserve your assets from taxes and unnecessary probate?
Fair vs. Equal – How do you want to divide up your assets among your heirs? You may have a child involved in the family business and one who is not. What strategies are available to equalize your estate?
Do you have a current will?
Do you have a financial power of attorney and a living care power of attorney?
How can you minimize capital gains taxes – during and after your lifetime?
Will your estate be distributed according to your wishes?
Estates are more than just money. They are memories and hopes for the future. Get started today by giving some consideration to the questions posed above. Many more may come to mind. Deciding how you would like your estate to be handled requires careful planning and discussion with the people involved – your family and advisors.
I welcome the opportunity to help you use sound financial and estate planning strategies for the preservation of your estate.
E-mail Werner Hohn or call 519-624-8939 toll free 800-265-6148