You will have worked hard all your life to accrue assets for yourself and your family, and one aspect of good estate planning is all about protecting those assets.

When someone passes away, and before the distribution of the estate, there are a number of estate costs. These include estate administration tax (probate fees) and other taxes. In addition, if you pass away with any outstanding debts, whether they be to an individual, a bank or even the Canada Revenue Office, the payment of these debts will need to come out of your estate. And these debts are prior to the distribution of your estate.

There are ways that you can protect your assets from unnecessary fees and taxes. A most basic way is to have a valid and current will, which may avoid costly legal disputes. Another is to ensure all your life insurance policies and registered plans (such as RRSPs, RIFs, TFSAs, LIFAs, etc.) have a designated named beneficiary. This means that the assets will pass directly to that individual, and will not form part of your estate. You may also consider ensuring that any property you have is jointly own with another person (such as your spouse), so that it does not form part of your estate.

Asset protection can be complication, so if you need advise then contact our Estate Law Group.