Estate Planning 101

Estate Planning 101 – Part 1

There are three key documents to a complete estate plan – a Last Will and Testament, an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Representation Agreement. In this three part series, we will look at the importance of each of these documents and any new changes to the way these documents are utilized. This month we look at:

The Importance of a Will

Do you have:
  • Property?
  • Bank accounts?
  • Retirement savings?
  • Investments?
  • A spouse?
  • Children?

If you answered yes to any of these, you need a Will! There are important reasons to have an up-to-date Will.

You Control the Process – your wishes are important! Speaking frankly, a Will determines who gets what when you die. If you do not have a Will, you are dying “intestate”. The government decides how to distribute your assets, not you.

The Opportunity May Pass – an unexpected event such as a car crash may leave you mentally incapacitated or dead, leaving you no opportunity to plan the distribution of your assets. There is no time like the present to get your affairs in order – for your own peace of mind.

Protect Your Family – setting out your directions in a Will can save your grieving family members trouble, time and expense.

A Will:

  • Provides direction and guidance
  • Sets out Executors and Trustees
  • Prevents delay in the distribution of your assets
  • Provides for the guardianship of minors
  • Provides for payment of debts and fulfillment of outstanding duties
  • Prevents the risk of disputes among your family members
  • Eliminates the risk of a complex intestate application process

Provide for Special Needs – you may have a disabled child who will require a greater share of your assets for their future care. Intestate rules do not contemplate these types of considerations.

Non-Traditional Family Members – stepchildren and close family friends are not included in intestacy rules. Without a Will, these people will not be considered in the distribution of your assets.

Your Values – you may leave behind a legacy in your Will through a charitable bequest to an organization or group that reflects your values.

Stay Current – your Will should reflect your current circumstances. You may inadvertently be leaving assets to an ex-spouse, the heirs of deceased beneficiaries or distant relatives.

Whenever your situation changes (marriages, divorces, deaths) you should review your Will with a lawyer to determine what effects those changes will have on the distribution of your estate.

If you would like advice regarding the preparation or amendment of your Will or for more information regarding Will or Estate matters please contact Chahal Priddle LLP to set up an appointment today.