If you die without a will, each province has rules that will decide who in your family gets what from your estate. Your assets may end up being distributed to those beneficiaries you want excluded from your estate and not to those you want included. Preparing a valid will lets you and your family rather than the courts decide who will look after your estate.
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a written document naming a person to manage your financial affairs while you are still alive or when you become mentally incompetent.
A POA for personal care, also called a living will, is a written document outlining what forms of medical treatment you do or do not wish to receive, should you become incapacitated, and who will make those decisions on your behalf. Living wills may not be binding in your province and should be discussed as to how it may apply.
Probate fees must be paid out of the estate to the provincial court for issuing letter probate. Many strategies exist to help avoid or reduce probate fees.
A Trust is a legal arrangement whereby an owner transfers property or assets to a trustee who may be an individual or a financial institution. The trustee manages the assets or property for a beneficiary who may receive income, assets or property from the trust. The primary purpose of a trust is to allow you to transfer ownership of assets to your beneficiaries while maintaining control over the assets.
An estate freeze involves fixing the value of shares or other assets at a point in time and passing future profit or growth to your children. It may be an effective way to reduce income taxes at death and ensure that more of your assets pass to your beneficiaries.
There are many strategies that allow Canadians to customize charitable giving. The government of Canada encourages charitable giving by granting a tax credit at the top marginal tax rate for donations in excess of $200. Talk to us about gifts in kind, donating shares, gifts of RRSPs and RRIFs, wealth replacement insurance, gifts of life insurance policies and charitable trusts and annuities as part of your charitable giving estate planning.
Although estate taxes and inheritance taxes do not exist in Canada, many people still face a large tax bill when they die. Speak to your us about Life Insurance and Estate Tax preservation planning.
¹The opinions and analysis contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used for the development or implementation of an estate planning strategy. Consult with a financial adviser and lawyer before acting on any of the above. Strategies that involves the use of insurance and related products and services are offered by licensed representatives operating through First Life.