Unfortunately, the vast majority of Canadians ignore issues relating to their own death, with tragic consequences. There are three reasons why estate planning was a major component of our past financial planning business:
#3 - Without proper estate planning, a great deal of money and value is lost to the government in Ottawa and Victoria in taxes, and to probate, estate administration, legal and accounting fees. This is commonly called Estate Erosion or Estate Shrinkage. This is unnecessary.
#2 - Without proper estate planning, grieving survivors and heirs are left to deal with 'the mess', sometimes not knowing what the deceased owned, where it is, or what needs to be done. This is often easily avoidable.
#1 - Without proper estate planning, and clear communication, grieving survivors and heirs do what 'they' think is right, and when the dust settles. All too often family relationships are destroyed forever. This is tragic.
Estate planning is often uncomfortable. However, the discomfort is not an excuse to ignore estate issues. We all know people who have siblings who haven't spoken to each other for decades because of an estate dispute. Don't let this happen in your family! Quite frankly, nothing matters more. Do not procrastinate on this. Start getting your affairs in order.
As a former Certified Financial Planner, Cheri dealt with hundreds of client families over the years. She has gone through the process of helping surviving family members whose deceased relatives have planned well, and other families who have not planned well. Every family situation is unique. Every estate plan is different.
It is difficult to do proper estate planning yourself. The tendency is to concentrate too heavily on the avoidance of probate fees and/or taxes. Often probate is a rather small portion of estate costs, while the tax laws are constantly changing. Your estate plan needs to be effective and flexible.
Canada does not have an 'estate tax' per se, but there are 'estate taxes'. A simple review of 'what will happen if...' is the best, easiest place to start.
Here are some of the areas which may affect you and your family...
Your personal Estate Plan
Have you thought through what you want to happen? Have you spoken with a professional to ensure that what you want to happen, will? Further, a professional will often know of contingencies you may not have thought of.
Your Estate Plan as it relates to your minor/adult children
Have you communicated your wishes to your adult children directly? If you have minor children, have you been clear in your communication with your named guardians?
Your parents' Estate Plan
Do you know what, if anything, is expected of you as part of their Estate Plan? If you are a caregiver now, or expect to be, do you know where all the pertinent documents are located?
You are in the thick of it now.
If you are in the midst of administering an Estate or acting as Executor/Executrix, there are many useful, local businesses and agencies which can assist you.
If you do not have the necessary documents and Estate Plan in place, and you don't have a lawyer, we will be happy to recommend one to you.