In 2015, my beloved grandmother, Masza, passed away. Although Masza died owning relatively few assets, and even though her Last Will and Testament outlined a reasonably simple plan for the gifting of those assets, her estate nevertheless took over three years to settle.
After years of research into the inefficiencies in the estate administration process, Estateably was created by myself and my cousin, Alex, to aid with the process of administering a Will in the most efficient manner possible.
Yet today, according to an Angus Reid survey, over half of Canadians don't have a Will, and of those that do, just 35% have one that is up to date. Moreover, survey respondents cited various reasons for not proactively executing a Will: some indicated they felt too young to think about estate planning; others said they didn't have enough assets to consider a plan.
When Canadians die without a Will (dying intestate), their estates are distributed according to the intestacy laws of the province in which they last resided. The process can add significant delays to an already inexpedient process. Still, more importantly, assets may end up being distributed by someone whom the deceased would not approve, and in a manner and proportion that they would otherwise not intend.
A Last Will and Testament is an essential part of any estate plan. Still, to be fully comprehensive, other components may include establishing trusts, naming another person to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated (Continuing Power of Attorney for Property), naming a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf (Power of Attorney for Personal Care), creating a living will for end-of-life decisions, and designating beneficiaries for assets that permit transfers to occur outside of the probate process.
Benefits of Estate Planning
Having a comprehensive plan (like an Aging & End-of-Life Plan as offered by Viive Planning) in place offers many benefits.
- Your family's security
- Looking out for your family has always been important for you. But what happens when you're no longer there, either in mind or body?
- Your family's peace of mind
- By creating a plan for your assets, you can avoid court battles and family feuds. By sharing your intentions, both in your Will and verbally to your family & loved ones, everyone in the family can feel like a part of your aging and end-of-life planning process. It becomes a family affair. They feel like a part of your family legacy.
- Reduce expenses
- Wealth transfer comes with costs, of which taxes usually represent the most significant burden. For example, Canadians are deemed to have disposed of their assets at the time of death, thereby triggering capital gains tax. By helping to establish a comprehensive plan while alive and making use of several available post-mortem planning strategies, a qualified estate practitioner can help minimize the burden these expenses will have on your estate and leave more in your beneficiaries' hands.
- Alleviate emotional burden
- Planning a funeral is difficult when you are in the grieving process. Your family will be overwhelmed with emotion and under pressure to make big decisions. You can ease the burden by outlying your final wishes in your estate plan.
"In moments of heightened emotions, such as during a life-limiting illness, or at the passing of a loved one, predictability, clarity, and having a plan are essential to help each family member understand, accept, and realize their loved one's wishes," ----Mallory McGrath
Creating an estate plan should be done carefully and considerately. Do yourself and your loved ones a favour and start your journey to a well-planned life and death by working with a lawyer, financial advisor, accountant or even our friends at Viive Planning, to ensure that your life and wishes are carried out the way you choose.