Estate Planning

Estate planning for the young at heart

For many people, the notion of estate planning is not very exciting. But take a closer look at the subject and you’ll see that it’s actually about keeping as much as possible of your wealth for your loved-ones. Whether you’re starting out in a new career, raising a young family, saving for a child’s education or looking forward to an imminent retirement, it’s never too late to think about estate planning. In fact, it’s empowering, liberating and keeps you young.

Estate Planning

First step: The importance of an estate plan

One of the biggest reasons why you should have an estate plan is so that your heirs and/or beneficiaries can avoid paying a large tax bill. This bill comes after your death when your property, investments and any other assets are sold. This federal, provincial and capital gains tax bill could potentially take a large bite out of your net value. One way to legally avoid paying it is by transferring your assets to your spouse. What this will mean is that a larger bill may need to be paid by your heirs and/or beneficiaries. With the right advice and planning, your heirs and/or beneficiaries can be spared a large tax bill.

Second step: Taking a snap-shot of your financial situation

It’s important to know how much you have. In other words, what are your assets and liabilities so that you can plan on how to pay them off or distribute them to your family and friends. The ultimate goal is to protect your assets.

Third step: Create a will and a living will

A will and a living will are different but equally important parts of your estate plan. Your will outlines how you would like your assets to be divided. The living will defines your medical instructions for your doctor and family in case you’re unable to speak for yourself. These wills can easily be completed with help from a lawyer or notary. Fill-in-the-blank will and living will templates are also available at most business supply stores or off the internet.

Fourth step: Select a power of attorney and an executor

Your power of attorney and executor are two essential people in your estate plan. The person with power of attorney will have the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf per your living will. When you die, your executor will be legally responsible for ensuring that your estate is settled as defined by your will. It’s important that you choose wisely and keep your loved ones informed of your choices.

Fifth step: Consult your financial advisor and other experts

It’s very important to obtain as much information as possible so that your estate plan is solid and legal. Make sure that you seek advice from a financial advisor and a lawyer to ensure that your estate well organized, detailed and complete.

Plan ahead, not only for you … but for them too!

Drawing up a will is one of the most important steps in estate planning.
If you already have a will, it will surely need revising based on your new situation as an entrepreneur. Ensuring your wishes is respected regarding the continuity of your business for example.
If you don’t have a will, make this a priority.
An insurance policy on the life of the partners could, in the case of death, be used to buy back the deceased partner’s shares in the business.
The benefit payment could be used to cover your estate taxes, including the eventual capital gain on the shares of your business. Life insurance can help create some cash flow so your estate will not have to sell your company in a “fire sale” to pay these taxes.
Inter-vivo trusts and testamentary trusts are, when needed, very effective examples that are simple to set up and will have substantial tax benefits. Among other things, they facilitate the intergenerational transfer and survival of your business.
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