Estate planning is a bit of a ghoulish topic to some. Few people want to think too much about their eventual demise or about the arguments that might erupt among greedy relatives fighting over their “fair share”.
And yet, the better you plan for the future the more likely your wishes are going to be carried
out the way you want. And despite the worst-case scenario of heirs fighting it out in court over
your hard earned assets, a carefully considered and up-to-date estate plan is one of the most
caring gifts you can leave those you care most about.
Now did you know Estate Planning is one of many services Ukrainian Credit Union is able to offer
our members? Through our partnership with Concentra Trust we offer services both for you as well as
for the executors and beneficiaries of your estate. We recommend working with a professional estate
However, knowing ahead of time what an estate plan entails will help you make informed,
carefully considered decisions about the things that matter most to you – your family and friends;
your own care should you become unable to care for yourself; and the ownership, management and
distribution of assets during your lifetime and upon your death.
This article is the first of a three-
part series that will look at the basics of estate planning from the perspective of what you need
to think about when planning for your eventual passing.
When should I start thinking about an Estate Plan?
It’s never too early to start planning. You’re not just preparing for some distant point in the
future. Just by going through the estate planning process you are going to get valuable insight
into what your current financial situation is like and what you need to do to achieve your goals.
It eliminates uncertainties and helps you maximize the value of your estate. Here’s a look at some
of the steps involved in estate planning:
- review and document your current financial situation
- define your personal and financial goals
- identify options and make informed choices that will allow you to achieve your desired outcomes
- put your plan into action
- review your plan and periodically make adjustments
These steps are what we should all be doing anyway as part of keeping our finances in order.
Where do I start?
A complete estate plan ensures that you can provide for those you care
about, even if you’re no longer there.
To ensure that you have a complete plan, you need to figure out your assets (what you own and what
it is all worth) and your liabilities (what you owe). You also need to figure out if any of your
assets or liabilities are held jointly with someone else, like your spouse or a business partner.
Your assets might include some or all of the following:
- Real estate – your home, rental properties, a cottage
- Registered investments (RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs, RESPs)
- Bank accounts
- Investments – mutual funds, stocks, bonds, GICs, term deposits
- Insurance policies
- Assets of any businesses you own (wholely or in partnership with others)
- Personal property – including everything from cars and boats to artwork to even sentimental items you want to leave to a specific heir
Liabilities on the other hand include:
- Mortgage(s) on real property
- Personal loans (car loan, RRSP loan etc.)
- Amounts owing on credit cards and lines-of-credit
- Personal obligations (e.g. alimony, child support, debts owed to friends or family members)
- •Outstanding property or personal taxes
Now that you have inventoried your assets and liabilities, you should also make a list of various
important documents that will be useful to the executors of your will. You should also keep a
record of where all these documents are kept, whether in a safe deposit box at Ukrainian Credit
Union Limited, under your mattress or in a safe at your lawyer’s office. Such documents
- Original Wil
- Power(s) of Attorney
- Living Will or Advanced Medical Directive
- Marriage Certificate(s)
- Pre-nuptial or co-habitation contacts
- Birth/Adoption records
- Insurance policies
- Real estate deeds
- Details of pre-planned or pre- paid funeral arrangements.
The job of your executor(s) will be much easier if they know exactly where to go to find all of
this. There are some legal deadlines that executors have to meet and the less time they spend
running around looking for key documentation, the more time they have to focus on carrying out your
will the way you intended.
So now that we have covered the basics of what you will need to draw up your estate plan, in the
next article, we will talk about what to do with all of this information. To learn more, please
feel free to call call me.
Anna Procio, Estate and Administration Officer Ukrainian Credit Union Limited