Financial Planner Perspective on Estate Planning
Estate planning is a broad topic, and from the financial planning perspective, there are many considerations. Here are a few suggestions to be mindful of. Best of luck with your ongoing planning.
Clarify your wishes
Have open, ongoing conversations with your financial planner about the wishes for your lifestyle, and wealth. This will help clarify your objectives before any plans get implemented. If you want to, as an example, leave money to a charity when you pass away, a financial advisor may be able to recommend ways to implement this wish while also reducing your taxes. These are ongoing conversations with your financial planner because your wishes may change, and/or situations in your heirs’ life may change that impact the implementation of the estate plan.
Consider having beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries on the investment accounts when appropriate. This allows investments to bypass the estate, therefore skipping probate fees. The money can move into the hands of the heirs faster. As an example, an RRSP account of $500,000 skipping probate will save $7,500. If you want your RRSP/RRIF (Including Locked-In and Spousal types of these accounts) to transfer to your spouse when you pass away, then list your spouse as the beneficiary and the money will skip probate and not get added to the final estate tax return as income. This saves fees and tax expenses. The account is now in your spouse’s name and can continue to be invested in the tax-deferred account.
Your beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries may change over time, which is why we like to include this information on one of our client documents that we see multiple times a year. To redraw our attention to this, and ensure the plan still makes sense.
Are the heirs prepared to inherit: Be mindful of heirs’ ages and how much wealth may potentially land in their hands at one time. There are ways to plan for this, such as trusts and education for the next generation.
Blended families: Blended families likely have additional planning considerations for estate planning. Such as what to do with the principal residence when one person passes away if some of that asset would ideally one day move to the decease’s children, but the living partner is to remain in the home. How to transition wealth to your children while still protecting your partner and their children. Potentially many considerations and many options to plan the best way to implement your wishes.
Gifting assets before you pass: If you are gifting assets in advance of passing away, then you should consider first how this affects your lifestyle. A cash flow projection can forecast the impact of gifting money. In our practice, we want to make sure that you can still preserve your desired lifestyle and know how much you can comfortably gift to help your loved ones and see them enjoy their inheritance early. Perhaps you want to gift assets to your adult children at different times, but still want to maintain equality, an advisor can discuss the time value of money considerations. For example, gifting $20,000 now for one child and in a few years around the same for another. Well, perhaps that is okay in your opinion. If your intent is a larger lump sum now and the Will is to make the amounts equal, then perhaps you want to consider the fact that $20,000 now is not the same as $20,000 in 20 years.
Evolving landscape and open dialogue with your advisors: Many considerations go into implementing an estate plan. It evolves and changes over time, and open honest communication with a trusted financial planner who focuses and has the expertise in this area is key for helping you identify when to reach out to the lawyer.
Trusted contact person
To honour my word count promised for this article, but not to miss a very important item, please watch this video to learn more about the important value, and in my opinion, the necessity for everyone to have a designated trusted contact person: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7OIe4poXTE
Have a team to help
There are other considerations for business owners, people with young families, and people with disabled children, to name a few. Everyone’s circumstances will vary. It is important to be aware, and then have the best team on your side.
Good luck, and do your loved ones a favour, ensure you have a well-structured estate plan now.
Jennifer Watson MBA, CFP®, CIM®
Wealth Manager | Watson Investments
Portfolio Manager | Watson Securities & Aligned Capital Partners Inc.
(905) 842 – 2100 ext. 103
Please contact Jennifer with any questions or inquires. You can schedule a free virtual consultation directly from the home page of our website: www.watsoninvestments.com. We are happy to answer any questions you have and see if we are a fit to work together.
Jennifer Watson provides wealth management services through Watson Investments (Peter Watson Investments Ltd.). Jennifer Watson is registered with Aligned Capital Partners Inc. (ACPI) to provide investment advice. Investment products are provided by ACPI. ACPI is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. The opinions expressed are those of the author only, and not necessarily those of ACPI.
Be sure to read about Smart Ways to Spend that Tax Refund
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This material is for general information and educational purposes only. Information is based on data gathered from what we believe are reliable sources. It is not guaranteed as to accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions.