What is Estate Planning?
Estate Planning is simply taking steps now to ensure your affairs are in order for when you’re gone. Another benefit is that with some planning, you can also make your last days on Earth much easier and peaceful.
The death of a loved one is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can face. Whether death is sudden or the result of a long illness, the feeling of loss can seem overwhelming. Many of us know people who died and left their loved ones in financial chaos. You may know others where the courts split their money up in ways they would not have wanted. The sad reality is that much of the suffering (beyond your death) can be reduced if you plan your affairs in advance. Nobody knows when their time is up. Also, if you should later suffer a terminal illness, by having taken care of things in advance, it is one less thing to worry about and all your energy can all be focused on getting through the treatments. You are the best person to organize your financial and end of life. Why let your loved ones anguish over this so that they don’t feel guilty in not having honored you properly.
Putting your affairs in order includes the following:
- –making sure your spouse and other family members has enough money to live comfortably should you suddenly die (if the loss of your income leaves your family financially devastated, you might need life insurance to reduce this devastation; such insurance can normally only be purchased well in advance while you are still healthy);
- –legally designating people you trust with authority for making personal care and financial decisions on your behalf;
- – designating guardians for your minor children;
- –registering your organ donation intentions so that when you are no longer alive, you organs can be used to save lives or help dramatically improve the lives of those who are suffering;
- –passing your estate to your intended beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes – this includes making sure you have a properly structured Will, deciding whether living or Will Trusts should be used, and reviewing your beneficiary designations of RRSPs/RRIFs/TFSAs, pension plans and life insurance, and reviewing the legal ownership of property;
- –ensuring that cash for living needs of survivors and for your last expenses will be available without excessive delay;
- –managing the fees of your assets that would occur at death (probate fees, legal fees, transfer taxes);
- –managing taxes on your death and future taxes on income producing assets for loved ones;
- –managing U.S. Estate and Gift Tax exposure where you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. Green Card Holder, or if you own U.S. assets and managing inheritance and transfer taxes on any foreign assets;
- –succession planning surrounding the family business and maximizing the after-tax value to your beneficiaries (eg. through the use of life insurance);
- –choosing an appropriate Executor and Trustee (as well as alternates) to manage your estate and helping giving them the guidance needed in their carrying out their duties (Will Letter of Instruction)
- – helping your loved ones in their grieving by writing letter(s) to them (the family love letter);
- –protecting the family wealth from future claims of creditors (including those of future spouses);
- –ensuring that loved ones with disability benefits don’t lose them in the event they receive an inheritance; and
- –protecting beneficiaries from their excessive spending or mismanagement of their legacy.
The Next Step
Now that you have an understanding of what is estate planning, it’s time to begin your planning by completing our, “End of Life Checklist”. Once completed, contact me. I will then help you in fine tuning and implementing your estate plans. This service, as well as other financial planning advice and service, is provided at no extra cost to clients of Lycos Asset Management Inc. that I service. To become a client, please call me at 604-288-2083 or email me at Steve@lycosasset.com
Written by Steve Nyvik, BBA, MBA ,CIM, CFP, R.F.P.
Financial Planner and Portfolio Manager, Lycos Asset Management Inc.