Estate Planning 101: A Checklist For Canadians

Estate planning is one method to ensure the fair distribution of your assets. This approach entails making a will and creating a trust that:
Estate Planning 101: A Checklist For Canadians

Have you ever thought about how all your assets will be distributed after your passing? The money and properties you worked hard for are something you want to be handled properly so that your loved ones will not have to worry about it in the future. That's why it's important to put your affairs in order as soon as possible.  

Estate planning is one method to ensure the fair distribution of your assets. This approach entails making a will and creating a trust that:

  • Determines how your assets will be distributed after your death;
  • Designates a guardian for your minor children;
  • Appoints someone you trust to manage your finances and property if you become incapacitated; and
  • Minimizes estate taxes and probate fees.

The Advantages of Estate Planning

Estate planning safeguards your wishes and ensures they are carried out so that your loved ones are taken care of after your passing. However, many people put off this process because they find it daunting or think they do not have enough assets to warrant estate planning. Still, estate planning is highly beneficial.

Here are some advantages of estate planning:

1. Avoidance of Probate

When someone you love dies, it's difficult to know what to do next. One of the initial things you may have to do is deal with their estate. This can be stressful, especially if you're unfamiliar with the probate process.

Probate is the legal process of distributing a person's assets after death. The court will oversee the distribution of assets, which can be a long and costly process. If you're the executor of someone's inheritance, it's important to understand what you need to do to administer it properly.

However, you can transfer your investments to your beneficiaries without going through probate if you have a trust plan. This way, your loved ones can receive their inheritance much quicker and with less hassle. 

2. Avoidance of Conservatorship

Incapacity occurs when people cannot take care of themselves or their finances. This can happen because of illness, injury, or old age. If there's no plan, the court may appoint a conservator to decide on the person's behalf.

Estate planning can help avoid this situation because it allows you to appoint a successor trustee to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated. This way, you have more control over who oversees your assets.

3. Protection of Assets

Planning how your loved ones will inherit your assets is important, especially if you have minor children. If you die without a will or trust, the court will determine how your assets will be distributed. This can lead to your assets being distributed in a way you may not have intended. 

A trust can help to protect your assets and ensure that they are distributed according to your wishes. For example, you can set up a trust so that your assets are held in trust for your children until they reach a certain age. This way, you can be sure they will use your support for their education or other expenses. 

Estate Planning Checklist

Now that you know the importance of estate planning, it's time to lie out all the requirements for your trust plan. The main legal documents for this process include:

  • A living will, also known as Power of Attorney
  • A will that outlines instructions for handling your money
  • Medical care, should you become disabled because of illness or accident. This also safeguards your possessions while you are still alive.

After you have decided that you need to start estate planning, there are a few key factors you must consider before getting started. This process can be daunting at first, but it will be much easier if you take the time to view all the factors involved.

1. Estate Complexity

With estate planning, your state's laws may significantly affect what you can and can't do. Depending on the scope and value of your assets, you may need to consider additional factors that will make your estate planning more difficult.

For example, if you have a complex estate, you may need to consider factors such as state taxes, probate costs, and estate administration expenses. This can make estate planning a more complex and time-consuming process.

2. Your Family Situation

The next thing you will want to consider is your family situation. This includes the number of people in your family, your relationship with them, and the distribution of your estate. You will also want to consider your children's ages and whether or not you wish to include them in your estate planning. 

3. Personal Goals

Are you creating an estate plan because you're afraid of what happens after your passing? Or are you more interested in protecting your legacy? You may want to consider your personal goals when creating your estate plan. These could include leaving your family with a certain amount of money, ensuring your children are taken care of, or leaving your beneficiary a specific amount.

4. Executors

Your circumstances and needs depend on the best person to rely on for financial advice. However, there are a few key factors to consider when choosing someone to trust with your finances. 

First, you want to ensure that the person you trust is qualified to give financial advice. This means they should have experience and knowledge in personal finance. They should also be able to explain their recommendations in a way you can understand.

Aside from that, you want to make sure that the person you're trusting is someone who has your best interests at heart. This person should be inclined to help you reach your financial goals. They should also be someone you feel you can rely on in the future.

Final Thoughts

Estate planning is a vital process for all Canadians, regardless of their age or wealth. By understanding their options and making informed decisions, Canadians can ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes.

There are several critical considerations to remember when estate planning, including choosing the right executor, making a will, and considering life insurance. With the tips in this article, Canadians can make estate planning easier and ensure their wishes are fulfilled.

If you're an estate professional, Estateably is a software you can trust for your estate planning needs in Ontario. We provide modern estate lawyer software in Canada so our clients can have peace of mind knowing their planning is done right. Book a demo with us today!

Edward Khidirov
Edward Khidirov is the Lead Legal Researcher at Estateably. He is currently a J.D./B.C.L. candidate at McGill University Faculty of Law. Edward holds a Joint Honors B.A. in History and Political Science from McGill University Faculty of Arts.
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