The beginning of the New Year is always a great time to implement new resolutions. What better way to start the year than to give serious thought to your estate planning goals? Estate planning involves both protecting the property you own now and planning for your succession.
While Statistics Canada’s 2006 Census shows that the average age of Canadian seniors is increasing and that one in seven Canadians is a senior citizen, we believe estate planning should not be confined to seniors only. Estate planning is a relevant consideration for adults of every age, especially young adults who are just starting their own families.
A comprehensive estate plan which includes a Will is essential for three reasons:
- In your Will, you can name the persons (beneficiaries) who you want your property and personal possessions to go to and those you do not. You can also set out the proporton in which your named beneficiaries will inherit. Most importantly, you can name a guardian for your minor-aged children.
- In your Will, you can set up a testamentary trust for a named beneficiary, depending on your purpose. Different types of trusts include a spousal trust, a trust for a minor, a special needs trust, etc.
Pursuant to your wishes, the trust would instruct a trustee (whom you would name) to invest the designated trust property and/or to pay the proceeds of the investment to the beneficiary of the trust. This way you can ensure that a beneficiary will receive his/her inheritance over an extended period of time as opposed to receiving it in a lump sum.
- In your Will, you have the benefit of choosing your executor, a person whom you are onfident will manage your financial affairs, pay your debts, ensure your beneficiaries inherit pursuant to your Will, and will make sensible investments on your estate’s behalf.
Dying without a Will can have adverse consequences for your family and loved ones, who may have to deal with financial and legal hurdles, as a result. Taking the time to meet with a lawyer for estate planning and preparing a Will is one of the most cost effective legal services a lawyer can provide and will likely bring you peace of mind whatever stage of life you are in.
Author: Sonal Modi, © Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP 2011