Estate Planning

Organizing Your Estate

Estate planning is something every family should have, regardless of your family size or income levels. Everyone should have some type of estate plan in place to ensure financial matters are resolved quickly and expediently, and so family and loved ones lose as little as possible to taxation.

The Importance of a Will

The most important part of estate planning is ensuring that you have a valid and up-to-date will. If you pass without a will, the government will distribute your estate in accordance with provincial law. Only a will can ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

The best and safest way to create a will is to work with an expert. Your will should be updated periodically through consultation with your professional advisor, especially as you acquire new assets. You should also update your will if you have a new child. You should also be aware that if you marry, your existing will becomes invalid.

How to Distribute Your Estate

Distributing your estate is more complicated than simply dividing things among your heirs. You'll need to determine all of your assets including: pensions, investments, stocks, bonds, real estate and personal property. You'll also need to note which assets you own jointly, as well as who the beneficiaries are for your RRSPs and insurance policies.

Once this is done, decide on your goals. You'll obviously want to maximize the value of your assets and protect them from taxation as much as possible. You'll also want to make sure you have enough liquid assets to handle your liabilities so your heirs won't have to sell off physical or investment assets.

Gifting assets before your death and establishing trusts are two good ways to help protect your assets from taxation. However, keep in mind that both strategies can be complicated by the individual tax circumstances of your survivors.

At CUA, we understand that no one looks forward to planning their estate. We also know how important it is to you and your family that it's done right. At CUA Wealth Management Services, we can help you map out an estate plan that works for you.

Establishing a Power of Attorney

Another important component of a financial plan is the establishment of an enduring power of attorney. While powers of attorney have traditionally been used to authorize an individual to act on someone’s behalf in financial matters for reasons of convenience, Canadians have begun to establish them for other considerations. Many people set up powers of attorney that only go into effect if they become incapacitated due to a medical condition. This allow the attorney, who is usually a family member, to make financial and medical decisions on behalf of a loved one in accordance with established wishes. 

 

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