estate planning

Is Probate Right for Your Estate ?

Estate planning can be an overwhelming process. Whether it is your own estate or you are the executor for someone else, the checklist can seem never-ending. A financial adviser can help make sure your checklist is complete before you start checking the boxes.

One of those items on the checklist is probate, the legal process that confirms the executor's role. A will authorizes the executor to act on behalf of an estate, but an executor may seek confirmation of their authority from a court through a letter of probate.

Estate Planning Saves You Money !

With the New Year fast approaching, consider giving some thought to how you want to distribute your assets, household goods and other gifts to your heirs as you contemplate your other New Years' Resolutions. This, including tax planning, is what lawyers refer to as Estate Planning.

Estate Planning can be a simple or complex matter depending upon your specific situation and the needs of your heirs. So why bother to worry about having Wills, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills or Medical Directives updated to reflect your hopes, wishes and personal values?

What if I Can't Look After My Affairs?

Clarke owned a small business that employed three other people besides him. He had sole signing authority on his business bank account, and personally had a joint mortgage on his home with his wife, Lois. His car was registered in his name only. Clarke was generous with gifts on special occasions and holidays for his children and his wife, and supported several charities on a regular basis.

Added Costs of Caring for Elderly Parents

Statistics Canada reported in 2007 that most eldercare (75%) was provided by those between 45 and 64 years of age. These Canadians, often called the sandwich generation, are increasingly finding themselves spending their own savings to care for their elderly parents, while giving money to their kids for university and trying to save for themselves.

A 2012 BMO survey confirmed that 7 out of 10 caregivers were providing some sort of financial assistance to parents or aging relatives, and half of these caregivers reported they had to adjust their own retirement plans as a result.

Wealth Transfer Tips

Wealth transfer can be a complex process for most families but especially wealthy ones. The range of issues involved can include family values, objectives and relationships; business continuity; investment strategy and insurance, taxes and ownership structures, amongst others. At the same time questions of control, responsibility and timing are raised.

Choose Wisely

Almost everyone agrees that it's a good idea to have a will. However, it is estimated that about half of Canadians do not have one, and it is likely that many wills are out of date, perhaps even invalid.

Not having a will can make the sorting out of your estate unnecessarily expensive, complicated and time consuming. When having your will prepared, one of the most important decisions you will make is who you would like as executor.

How NOT to Plan your Estate

Your death will create problems. There will be three types - emotional, legal and financial. You can do certain things now, while you're alive, to reduce or increase these problems and make your heirs either love you or hate you.

EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS

You can increase the emotional upset after your death by leaving your affairs in a mess. Hide your will, or better still, don't make one. Have a number of secret bank accounts and investments.

Yes, Virginia, there are death taxes in Canada

Ottawa dropped Estate Taxes about forty years ago. All the provinces did away with Succession Duties by 1985. We thought that was the end of taxes arising at death. We were wrong.

Ask yourself these questions:

The Inheritance Twist

There are many Baby Boomers who are anticipating hitting the jackpot via inheritances in the coming years as a solution to their own financial planning needs. We have heard many media reports about the tidal wave of money expected to move between the generations over the next 15 years or so estimated to be upwards of $1-trillion.

An HSBC report released last September found that 39% of working people are banking on some type of inheritance with a median value of about $77,000. While some 57% of fully retired people expect to leave some sort of inheritance.

Advice to a Future Widow

Most wives outlive their husbands. Women live longer than men the same age and tend to marry men who are older than they are. So, if you're a wife, it is more likely you will become a widow than your husband becoming a widower.

Knowing this, how can you prepare for it?

First of all, when widowhood strikes, don't do anything drastic. Do not sell the house or car. Don't decide to move to another town. You have just suffered a very traumatic experience and your system needs time to adjust to it. Take your time.

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