Estate Planning Checklist

Estate Planning Checklist


To ensure that your wishes are met, estate planning provides a roadmap for how your money and property will be distributed after you die. It is important that you understand what is required in order to properly plan for your estate inCanada. Why? Well, your estate can be taxed up to 46% after you are deceased. With proper estate planning, you can potentially reduce your estate’s tax liability to zero. Here is an estate planning checklist to help you get started.


1) Make a List of Your Key Assets

The first part of your estate planning is to get organized and list all of your assets. This is going to include your personal assets, your investments, your business assets and everything else that will be considered in your estate. You will also want to include any insurance policies and personal effects in your safety deposit boxes.


2) Make a List of Your Liabilities

Now you will also want to make a list of all of your liabilities. This will include all monies that you will owe from your mortgages, outstanding personal and business loans as well as any other debts from credit cards or other obligations.


3) Name Beneficiaries

After you have listed your assets and liabilities, you will want to get started naming your beneficiaries. You may not only want to include your spouse but may also want to include your adult and minor children as well as anyone that you want to benefit from your estate. Be sure to name beneficiaries to your life insurance policies, as well as your investments, including your RRSPs and any other registered vehicles.

When listing your beneficiaries, you should also consider some other factors that could affect your estate. For instance, consider the breakdown of a marriage from your adult children and how to protect your adult children’s assets from their spouse. Also, make considerations for beneficiaries who may exercise poor financial judgement.

If you own pets, then you will want to make special considerations for their care and ownership in your will.


4) Make Sure You Have the Right Insurance  

Be sure that you have the right insurance for your estate. This can include insurance that covers income replacement, estate preservation, estate equalization and leaving a legacy. Also consider if you are paying for your insurance personally or if you are using lower taxed corporate or Holdco dollars.


5) Get Help From a Qualified Professional

You will want to make sure that you get help from a qualified professional in estate planning. This will allow the estate planning professional to better handle all personal and business aspects of your estate. Also, you will want to consider if your executor, trustee or beneficiaries need to get professional help from specific advisors.


6) Determine Your Family’s Income Needs

Be sure to determine if your estate will have enough income to cover expenses after your death. Will the estate have enough liquid assets to handle obligations, personal debt, and allow for savings for education after death? Also, consider if you want your estate to provide benefits beyond the next generation.


7) Consider Tax Efficient Charitable Contributions Upon Your Death

One of the best ways to preserve your estate is to plan for tax efficient charitable contributions after your death. You should consider a charitable remainder trust, private foundations, donor-advised funds and a charitable gift of securities.


8) Make Special Arrangements for Minor Children or Infirmed Beneficiaries

If you have minor children, then you will want to make special arrangements for their benefits until they reach a responsible age or until they meet special milestones such as attaining a certain level of education. Also, consider if you want your spouse and your children to remain in the family home.

If you have any beneficiaries who are disabled or infirmed, then you will want to make sure that their care is detailed in your will. That includes protecting their social assistance or government support on a long-term basis.


9) Understand How Your Assets Are Owned

You should understand how your assets are owned through your business. For instance, if you hold an asset with joint right of survivorship, the survivor will inherit it as opposed to those assets being distributed in your will.


10) Make Arrangements for Your Business

You should also have a plan for the sale or the control of your business in case you die or become disabled. For instance, is there a buy-sell agreement set up? Are there any shareholder agreements in place to affect the wind-up and sale of your business? Also, see if there is an insurance policy that can handle business liquidity.


11) Make Special Arrangements for Foreign Citizenship or Tax Liabilities

Do you or your spouse have dual citizenship? Will you have to contend with U.S. estate tax issues? Do you have any plans to move out of Canada in the future? Also, consider if you have the liquidity to handle any foreign tax. Finally, consider if your estate has a plan to handle any double taxation.


The Four Factors to Consider in the Planning of Your Estate

As your plan for your estate, you will want to consider the four major factors that will guide your estate planning:


●     The complexity of your estate - This includes the amount of your assets and liabilities as well as your business, beneficiaries and any foreign involvement with your estate.

●     Your stage in life - Do you have dependents? Do you have elderly relatives who depend on you? Are you retired or nearing retirement? Are you in declining health?

●     Your personal goals - Do you want your partner to maintain the same standard of living after your death? Do you want to leave behind a specific legacy? Do you want to have a foundation?

●     Who you trust to handle your estate - This includes finding the right executor for your estate as well as naming someone to handle your affairs if you happen to become incapacitated while you are alive.


Getting the Right Help for Your Estate Planning

Make sure that you get the right help for your estate planning. The earlier that you start, the better prepared you will be to handle all aspects of your estate. Contact Silver Cedar Wealth Management and we can help you reach your estate planning goals.


Investments are provided through Worldsource Securities Inc. Access to insurance products and services can be facilitated upon request.


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