Let’s face it… estate planning is no one’s favourite topic. It takes time and thoughtful consideration, and there are costs associated with implementing an estate plan. However, this process is a critical part of protecting one’s life savings and assets and of paramount importance to people, especially as they age.
In this two-part blog series on estate planning we will discuss some of the pertinent aspects of estate planning, including:
- Creating an Estate Plan
- The Importance of Wills
- Gifting assets before death
- Life Insurance
- Taxes at Death
Creating an Estate Plan
Over the course of a lifetime, most people amass a certain amount of wealth and assets, some more than others. Whether or not you consider your estate to be sizeable, it is yours, and you will no doubt want to ensure that in the event of your death, it is given to the people you choose. Many people find it helpful to break the process of creating an estate plan into manageable steps, beginning with taking inventory of your assets and liabilities, through to implementing and regularly reviewing your estate plan.
Visit this either one of these two pages for a thorough step by step guide to help you create your estate plan:
The Importance of a Will
Your Will is central to your estate plan. It is a legal document that will ensure that your estate is properly distributed upon your death, and specifically, that your exact wishes are carried out. It will also name the person you choose (your executor) to carry out your wishes when you die. Wills are not binding while you are living, and can be revised by you at any time, as long as you are competent and in charge of your personal affairs. Visit this page two learn the six most important things to consider when making a will:
Gifting Assets While Living
By all accounts, transferring assets to those you love or to a charity while you are still living, can offer some notable benefits. Here are some merits of making this choice:
1) It allows you to carry out your estate wishes yourself
2) It allows you to witness the benefits of sharing your assets
3) It may prove helpful to family members or loved ones
4) If you are gifting cash, there are huge tax savings
Conversely, there are some drawbacks to doling out your estate prior to death. It can cause tension among your loved ones – which can be stressful for you; it can have negative implications to your lifestyle; it can cause you to feel anxious or less secure; and if your gift is an income-producing asset such as stocks or bonds, transferring to a loved one could trigger a tax implication for you. There are other things to consider like who should be included in your gifts, e.g., spouses, grandchildren, significant friends, and how you wish to have them managed.
If you are leaning toward the idea of ‘giving while living’, consider these professional views on the subject:
To read about Life Insurance and Taxes at Death, tune into our next blog – Estate Planning: Part Two coming soon.