Lifestyles

D. Smith: Don’t put off assembling an estate plan

An estate plan is an essential part of planning for the future.

Estate planning involves the transfer of someone’s assets (e.g. property, money) when they die, as well as other personal assets.

What is the right age to start on an estate plan?

As soon as you start to accumulate assets or when you start to have children, you should have an estate plan.

During our lifetime, planning is part of our routine. We plan for holidays and family gatherings. We plan on things to do when we are not working. We plan on making consumer purchases such as for vehicles and major appliances. So what about planning in regards to estate planning for you and your family?

Almost 50 per cent of the adult population who should don’t make estate planning a priority.

That means nothing has been done to protect you and your family against the many negative aspects of having no estate plan.

Estate planning should be considered as one of the best planning strategies during our lifetime. Making a will is an important part of planning for your family’s future.

If you die without a will, your property will be divided according to B.C. law, and the costs to administer your estate will increase.

You will be giving up the right to appoint the guardian of your choice for any children in your care.

A will is a legal enforceable declaration of how you want your property to be distributed after death.

A will provides directions on minor children including who will be the guardian of your most treasured possession, your children.

You will also declare who you want to be the executor or executrix of your will and this is the person who will administer your estate.

You will name the person to be the guardian of your minor children.

You can choose a trusted family member or trusted friend or you can choose a professional to administer your will and will be charged a professional fee for these services.

Ask about the costs associated with professional administration—to determine if there is a fixed cost or a cost based on the total assets administered.

If you die without a will—this is referred to as dying intestate, the province will administer your estate. The province will decide who is in charge of your accumulation of assets and apply intestate guidelines of how your assets will be divided.

You do not have a say in this intestate process because you are no longer alive and you missed the opportunity to make a

Will when you were alive. The government provides the guidelines and the extra legal and accounting costs will come out of your estate value.

Organizing your financial affairs means taking care of your affairs before you are gone.

If you think it is difficult to get started on your estate plan now, it will be increasingly difficult and more expensive for someone else to do your estate plan for you after you are gone. The reality is we can’t live forever and we cannot determine what day will be our last day of life.

You have worked all your life and accumulated assets. Ensure your heirs will get the most out of the assets you have accumulated.

The biggest challenge may be to get started. Then step by step you will achieve your goal of organizing your affairs.

During your lifetime you can gift personal or monetary assets to family, friends or to a charity.

You can take advantage of naming beneficiaries on insurance investments and GICs outside of your will to bypass probate and avoid a long and costly delay of probate.

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