Resolution Estate Plan - 4 Key Elements
Peter Katevatis - Dec 28, 2021
Now is your opportunity to complete your resolution. Here are 4 key elements that all estate plans need
There are several truths that we cannot avoid: Death, Taxes, and the Canucks will never win the Stanley Cup. Let’s focus on the most morbid of that list… our inevitable demise, and how it relates to your assets.
Canadians spend a literal lifetime earning money, saving, investing, to increase their standard of living. Upon retirement, the goal is to draw down on these assets to do all the wonderful things you want to do. Quite often there are substantial assets that exceed your needs and will be available to assist your loved ones. Whether these assets are from home prices rising or a successful business venture the idea is the same, preserve as many assets for your beneficiaries as possible.
There are 4 basic elements that all estate plans need.
- Power of Attorney
The Power of Attorney (PoA) is an important legal document that will allow a chosen individual to make financial or healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them for yourself. A financial power of attorney will focus on your bank accounts, investment accounts and real estate. A medical power of attorney will make healthcare decisions in the event that you become incapacitated.
- Living Will/Advanced Directive
Living Will or Advanced Directive is similar to a PoA but gives the caregivers some specific directions if you are unable to communicate. This document allows you to specify certain medical or lifestyle decisions should become unable to convey your wishes. It is useful to provide guidance to caregivers such as instructions for pain relief and palliative care, life-prolonging preferences, artificial life-support and do-not-resuscitate orders.
A will is a cornerstone of any estate plan and outlines the distributions of your assets in accordance with your personal wishes. If you have minor children, the will should also appoint a guardian. Without a will, you will be considered to die “intestate” which then distributes your assets based on your local provincial rules. One important consideration is the named executor to oversee the administration and carry out the instructions of the will. The duties can be significant so it is important that the executor is willing to take on the role. There are several 3rd party institutions available that can fill this void if you do not have a good candidate. A properly designed will can help minimize the often-disastrous tax effect when assets are deemed sold upon death. This commonly occurs with secondary real estate assets and private businesses.
- Testamentary Trust
If your estate is substantial you might want to consider a testamentary trust to provide some asset protection. This can provide a detailed distribution plan to beneficiaries so that a lump sum is not available all at once. Other benefits to these trusts include protecting assets from creditors, deferring capital gains, and safeguarding assets from changes in family matrimony.
A successful New Year’s Resolution is one that you can attack & finish quickly. Finishing your estate plan in swift fashion will give you a wonderful sense of peace and accomplishment. You always wanted to do it… NOW IS YOUR CHANCE! Don’t let your lifelong growth in assets become a dusty piece of exercise equipment sitting in the corner.
We have several professionals that can help walk you through this process. Do not hesitate to reach out for a referral to tick this resolution off your To-Do list.