Estate planning is the process in which a person plans the transfer of their estate they pass away. This can include property, money or investments. Wills are a common way a person establishes their wishes for how their estate will be distributed and taken care of after their death (Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, 2020). Power of attorney, life insurance, trusts and living wills can also be important aspects of an estate plan.
Estate planning is important because it can help ensure your wishes are understood. The distribution of your assets and life insurance payout can also make sure your family is financially supported in the event of your passing. Still, many Canadians do not have a signed will. Even among those who have an estate plan, many people don’t revisit or revise it, even as their needs change.
Planning for your family’s future is not only important – it’s an extension of the love and care you provide them. It can also put your mind at ease knowing your family is taken care of, no matter what. In our Women and Financial Wellness blog series, we’re providing tips, tools and strategies for planning a more secure future for you and your family. Here are four tips to make estate planning easier.
1. Include Anticipated Estate Planning Costs In Your Budget
Creating an estate plan on your own can be difficult. For example, there are a number of “Do It Yourself” will kits on the market, but The Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick suggests finding a lawyer who can guarantee your will is properly drafted. An improperly drafted will can end up costing your estate more money and can cause unintended confusion among your beneficiaries. For more information on how a lawyer can help and how to find one, check out this article on “Legal Advice When Making Your Will” from GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.
2. Communicate With Your loved Ones
Drafting a proper will can help your family avoid confusion over the distribution of your estate. Still, it’s a good idea to discuss your plan with your executor and your beneficiaries. Walking them through your estate plan can help you explain your intentions so everyone understands your wishes and there are no surprises.
For more tips on how to talk with your loved ones about life insurance and other estate planning matters, check out our article on Starting the Conversation: 3 Tips for Talking to Your Family About Life Insurance.
3. Find a Executor You Trust
Many people choose an executor with whom they have a close personal relationship. However, as Jean Blacklock, author of The 50 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes says, in the video below, an executor is an important and sometimes challenging role. She suggests choosing someone you trust, who is good at making tough choices and a great task manager.
Watch with video interview with The Globe & Mail’s Rob Carrick and author Jean Blacklock on the important role of your executor.
You may also wish to compensate your executor. Experts suggest discussing fees with your executor up front so that they understand their responsibilities and your intentions for compensation.
4. Review Your Estate Plan Every Few Years
As your life changes, your needs and wishes will likely change too. As we discussed in our article on When You’ve Got Big News, It’s Time to Revisit Your Policy, each new life stage may mean changes to your estate plan. So with each new life event – such as a new job, marriage, the birth of a child, a big move – review your estate plan. This includes your will, your life insurance plan, and your living will.
Did you know that Teachers Life offers rebate programs for members who complete a personal will or a power of attorney for the first time? And because estate planning is best when done as a family, if your spouse or partner does one with you, they may be eligible for their own rebate. Check out our Member Benefits page to learn more.
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At Teachers Life, we know that women balance many roles in and outside the classroom. This blog is a part of a new Teachers Life series on “Women & Financial Wellness”. Follow us on Twitter, be a part of our Community on Facebook, and now follow us on Instagram.