It was American Thanksgiving last week for our friends in the United States. As we get together to give thanks with our friends and families, we realize how we all help one another. When it comes to estate planning, we all need help. I’ll explain how a team approach can help protect your family.
If you are starting or revising your estate plans, who are you going to call for help? Should you start with your financial advisor, accountant or lawyer? That depends but, usually, you start with someone you trust.
Here are some players you will want on your estate planning team.
1. Tax advisors
Do you have substantial taxable assets, such as a business, rental properties, or investments? If there is a business involved, you must consult with accountants. This can help minimize the tax paid when a death occurs. Estate planning can avoid problems for the people you leave behind.
You will need to preview your estate tax liability for your business, cottage and registered investment plans. Do you know that someone must pay your income taxes on certain assets after your death? Even worse, the Canadian income tax rules treat certain assets as income. Your RSP or RIF can lose about 50% of its value due to taxes. Your last tax bill could be your biggest.
2. Financial advisors will assist you in planning and investment advice. This will ensure that loved ones benefit from your money. You want advisors to check that your registered plans are designated to reduce taxes.
3. Life insurance professionals may assist you, especially in obtaining additional coverage to support a young family. Insurance can provide your estate with liquidity. Will you have money to cover expenses that may arise in your estate?
It is important to have the right beneficiary on your life insurance. Make sure your will does not contradict the policy’s named beneficiary.
4. Trust officers and the individuals employed with banks or trust companies can help you administer your estate. They can also explain how to create trusts to protect your inheritance for minors or spendthrifts. They will help you understand the financial benefits of their estate services.
5. Estate lawyers can act as captains of your estate planning team. Lawyers can
- provide independent and objective advice on various options that other team members have offered you.
- prepare your basic estate planning documents, including a will and powers of attorney.
- review shareholder, separation or marriage contracts as these affect your estate.
Who needs to be on your estate planning team? It depends.
You don’t have to assemble a team before your situation requires one. Most people start their estate plan with a lawyer. You can usually get a referral from an advisor.
Estate Planning Dangers on The Web
You also want to educate yourself about key estate planning topics. This blog has seven keys to estate planning success that can help.
Be careful, however, when you do your research. No one regulates internet websites. Many websites contain information that is out of date or wrong.
American estate planning sites do not apply to Canadians. American tax, estate and gift laws are completely different. In my law office, I am still surprised by people asking about gift taxes. They ask who pays them when they give a cash gift to grandchildren. There are no gift taxes in Canada.
See my related blog post, my article and my free ebook:
- Why Executors Need Lawyers (blog post)
- Choosing Your Executor (article)
About Edward Olkovich
Edward Olkovich (BA, LLB, TEP, C.S.) is a nationally recognized author and estate expert. He is a Toronto estate lawyer and Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts. Edward has practiced law since 1978 and is the author of seven books. Visit his website, mrwills.com, for more free valuable information.
© Edward Olkovich 2012