Developing an estate plan involves more than just a will and planning for income taxes at death. It is important to take an inventory of your personal assets and affairs before you prepare your will.
The Estate Planning Team
Depending on the complexity of your estate, you may need to engage a number of professionals to help you plan your estate. In addition to a lawyer, you may also require the services of an accountant, financial advisor, insurance specialist, or a trust company.
Gather Your Information
Before taking the first steps in estate planning, it is important to take stock of your situation. Without knowing exactly where you stand it is difficult to know what you plan should look like. The information you need to gather will be unique in every situation. As a general guideline, you should have the following information:
- Personal details about you, your spouse, your children, and other dependents you have.
- Marriages and deaths (yours and your children)
- Your health condition
- A general idea of how you want your assets distributed
- Information on your investments, including bank accounts, GICs, brokerage accounts, RRSPs and RRIFs
- Other property you own such as business assets and real estate including a cottage or vacation home.
- Details of your employment and benefits
- Details of any insurance policies you have
- Details of your debts including your mortgage and personal loans
Remember that it is important to disclose everything in the estate planning process. Failing to do so can cost you or have some unintended consequences when you die. The professional on your team are there to help and not judge: They will identify opportunities and develop strategies to help you achieve your goals!
Making sure you have your affairs in order can be challenging. A professional accountant and financial planner can help you inventory your assets, understand how you want your estate to be handled and recommend opportunities to save taxes, reduce fees and ease the administration of your estate. If you are looking for assistance with creating your estate plan, please contact me for more information.