As a business owner, or as an employee who has been working hard all their lives to build wealth for your family, there comes a time when you need to start thinking about how you might pass along those financial assets to your loved ones upon your passing. But, where should you start, what do you include and how often should you review this plan? These are very common questions and Darryl Smith of Synergy Life Financial is here to help guide you through the process every step the way. The first step in creating a good estate plan for yourself is to determine your net worth. You need to start with this in order to see just how much your net worth is before planning your estate.
Where Do You Begin?
1. Calculating all your assets
That means adding up your bank and investment accounts, personal property such as jewelry, antiques, collectibles (art, coins), vehicles, boats, RRSPs, and any real estate. From there you subtract all your liabilities like unpaid taxes, credit card debt, car payments, and any other personal loans and mortgages. While there are no longer any inheritance taxes in Canada, your personal and business owned assets will be considered sold and taxes will be due upon your passing. This is why special planning considerations must be laid out in order to minimize the amount of tax that must be paid.
If you’re a business owner, your unique succession plan may involve additional considerations in order to reduce delaying the transfer of shares to either a family member or if the business is to be sold. If you’d like assistance in understanding your true net worth, give Darryl Smith a call at 705-434-0562.
2. Determine the financial needs of you and your family.
If you have significant retirements assets, and/or are expecting a large inheritance, you need an estate plan. This ensures that your property can be managed by someone of your choosing for 2 reasons; one, in case you are no longer able to work due to injury or illness, and two, to ensure everything goes where and how you want it to go.
This is a very important step in building your plan especially if you own one or more businesses. To learn more about how being a business owner changes your estate plan, give Darryl Smith a call at 705-434-0562. He’ll lead you step-by-step, to ensure you’ve got your bases covered and nothing has been overlooked.
3. Hire a qualified estate lawyer
Estate planning is complicated enough without trying to do it alone. In addition to your financial advisor, you’ll want to ensure your lawyer has experience in estate law so your legal documents reflect your wishes and avoid any potential delays or legal issues.
4. Decide whether you need a Living Trust in addition to a Will
A Living Trust is a legal entity created to hold ownership of your assets. It covers three phases of your life: your lifetime, possible incapacitation, and what happens after your death. Working with both your financial advisor and your estate lawyer will help you determine if you need to go beyond a simple Will
and include a Living Trust which has more options that you will need to take a deeper look at should you decide it’s the right estate solution for you.
5. Make a contingency plan
Planning in case of a mental disability is an important part of any estate plan, however, it is often overlooked. Without a good contingency plan in place, your assets may end up in a court-supervised guardianship and in turn, your loved ones could lose control of you and your property. Working with a qualified estate lawyer with years of experience will allow you the comfort of knowing that you’re prepared and have a solid plan in place, should you suffer an injury or illness that results in mental disability.
6. Choose your executor(s) wisely
You need to decide who should be in charge of carrying out your wishes. Selecting the right person(s) to manage your estate is crucial so your wishes can be handled properly and not left for the courts to decide. It is a big responsibility and it is important you ask your family member or friend if they would be willing to be an executor before including them in your legal documents. It’s also important to ensure you include a second person in your documents in case the primary executor can’t or won’t be able to execute their duties.
7. Review your plan on a regular basis
Life changes year by year and sometimes five years feels like a blink of an eye. Because of the ups and downs and unexpected surprises both happy and sad along the way is why it’s important to review your estate plan annually. Updating your plan regularly, every few years or as often as you and your financial advisor determine appropriate will help ensure it aligns with your assets and will suit your family when the time comes. As we all know, life can change quickly so it’s important to keep your plan current so that the right people will be in charge of the right things. Trust Darryl Smith to give you industry-leading, compassionate advice to help you plan for your future. Whether it’s time for a review or you’re looking for a second opinion Darryl is always ready to help you navigate your financial options.