Estate Planning

Steps for estate planning

 

To simplify your estate planning, you should follow four simple steps:

Step 1: Get organized

PlanFind the documents that show what your assets and liabilities are. If you have all the pertinent information on hand, it will be easier for a financial expert or lawyer to understand your financial situation. Next, outline what you want to do with the assets you will leave behind.

Also decide who will be the executor of your will. This person will be in charge of arranging your funeral, settling your final bills, filing your final tax return and making sure that the provisions of your will are carried out as you wished.

 

Step 2: Meet with a financial expert

If you have substantial assets, it pays to spend time with an accountant who specializes in estate planning. One of the goals of any good estate plan is to minimize taxes.

 

Step 3: See a lawyer

In most cases, drawing up a will requires a small investment in time and a few hundred dollars in legal fees. In addition to a will, a lawyer can write up what’s usually known as a “continuing” or “enduring” power of attorney. (In Quebec, it’s known as a mandate.) This allows the person you designate to act on your behalf if you should become mentally incapacitated. Ideally, you should have two powers of attorney – one for your property and one for your personal care.

Your power of attorney for property allows the person you designate to have access to your bank accounts if you become unable to function. Your power of attorney for personal care allows the person you designate to make decisions about the care you will receive if you’re too ill or confused to make decisions for yourself.

 

Step 4: Update your plans

Family situations change — children are born, relatives die, marriages begin and end, property fluctuates in value. You should review your will at least every three years and ensure that it’s up to date.

 

 

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