Avoid problems! Answer these questions today!

If you have not set out your wishes on subjects such as the following, confusion and even bitterness among family and business associates can result –

  • Who will be the executor of your will? This person will administer payments of any debts to the estate and distribute the balance according to your wishes. It is wise to choose someone who is willing, is younger than yourself, is efficient, and preferably lives in the same province; in the case of a complex estate, you may choose to name a corporate trustee;
  • Who will be the guardian of any children or other dependents for whom you are responsible? (Note: according to law, children born outside a marriage are still considered “children” unless they have been adopted, while step-children may not be);
  • What would happen if you and your spouse died at the same time?
  • Which assets are to be included in the estate? In addition to more obvious assets, these may include such personal items as jewellery, antiques and works of art, as well as items with sentimental value;
  • Which assets are to be excluded from the estate – such as jointly-held assets and property subject to buy-sell agreements?
  • What would happen if your children required special schooling?
  • How will your spouse be affected by the will? This includes consideration of the rights of common-law spouses;
  • Who are the beneficiaries to be – and what will happens if they predecease you?
  • What specific financial gifts do you wish to leave to individuals and/or charitable organizations?
  • Who, if anyone, is to be excluded from benefiting from the estate?
  • Will your beneficiaries receive their portions of the estate immediately following your death, or at some point in the future? In order to distribute an estate at some point in the future rather than immediately following death, testators may choose to establish a life estate (interests in a home may be left to a cherished friend, for example, and then pass to a relative upon the death of the friend) or a trust (particularly useful when beneficiaries are children, mental incompetents, high rollers, etc).
  • How can you maximize your tax advantages? Such methods as estate freezes and spousal trusts can save you and your family substantial amounts of money – amounts that far exceed the professional fees required to establish the estate. Similar savings may be effected through the creation of holding companies and other tax-planning techniques in small business corporations.
  • What are the goods and services tax (GST) consequences of your current estate plans?

The members of the Estate Planning Council of Edmonton can help you answer these and many other important questions affecting your estate!