Taking the First Steps

An estate plan tells others how to handle your affairs and finances after you die. It tells them how to distribute your assets at death, including money, property and other possessions. It will help to ensure your estate is divided according to your wishes, rather than the government’s wishes. And, it can help to minimize taxes, so more of your estate is left for your heirs. An estate plan also offers benefits during your lifetime. It can help you accumulate savings for retirement and take advantage of tax savings opportunities. It can also help you maintain your lifestyle if you become ill or disabled for a lengthy period. An estate plan should be part of your ongoing financial planning.

Setting your priorities

The first step is to decide on goals for your lifetime as well as what you want to do with your estate when you die.

You may want to:

What you decide will help you and your financial security advisor develop your estate plan.

Taking an inventory of your estate

The next step is to identify everything that forms part of your estate - savings, insurance policies, your home, cottage or other real estate, pension plans, RRSPs and non-registered investments.

Many people underestimate what they have. Your Edmond Financial Group financial security advisor can help you identify your assets, record where they are located and obtain their current value.

This record will give you and those handling your estate a better picture of your net worth. Once you’ve gathered this information, you’ll find it easy to review and update every two or three years, and after significant life events, such as marriage or the birth of a child.

Keeping your important papers together

You may already have all your important papers stored together in a safe, easily accessible place. If not, be sure to include your:

It’s up to you to help prepare family members for your death. That includes making sure they know where to find your personal records. This will prevent delays in carrying out your wishes.

It’s not easy to talk about your final wishes - funeral and burial arrangements, and the distribution of your estate to your heirs. But to avoid surprises and ensure your wishes are carried out, let your spouse or family know how you want your estate distributed, let them know where your will is located and introduce them to your professional advisors.

It’s a good idea to keep some assets that are easily cashable. This ensures cash is available to pay bills and burial expenses so your heirs won’t be forced to sell assets to pay off debts.