In my last article I discussed the issue of preserving family wealth. In this month’s article I will outline additional considerations that should be addressed in order to enhance the protection of family wealth and at the same time allow for a seamless transition of assets from one generation to the next. The purpose of this review is to provide a general check list of considerations that warrant attention in order to assist those who are left behind and to ensure your assets are dealt with in the manner you intend. Individual circumstances will vary but hopefully the points covered will provoke both thought and action. The fact of the matter is obvious-we all must face our mortality…..are you prepared?
- Hopefully you already have one-if not do so immediately. If so, is it up to date? Changes occur over the years-marriages-divorces-births and deaths in your family could impact an old will. Also changes in law as it relates to estates may require updating your will.
- Does your executor have the expertise to administer your will and does he\she have the time to serve in that capacity? As well it is important to discuss the contents of the will with the executor while you are alive and inform him where the true copy of the will is located.
- It is important to maintain a list of all bank accounts, investments, pensions and other personal assets of value. This inventory should be provided to the executor and updated periodically.
- Ensure that beneficiary designations are current on life insurance policies, RRSP and RRIF accounts and other investments.
- It may be beneficial to consider transferring certain assets to intended beneficiaries prior to passing as there may be both Tax advantages and administrative benefits in doing so. Consult with your professional advisors in this regard.
- One should have a competent power of attorney for finances in place in the event that you are unable to manage your own affairs due to sickness or injury.
- Consider the impact of long term care on your financial resources-this cost could be substantial if one requires 24\7 care. Many insurers now provide insurance coverage for this care.
- Discuss final arrangements with both your family and executor. It may be prudent to pre-arrange and or prepay some of these costs.
There are many other points that can be discussed and every ones situation will vary. The important message here is that having an estate plan will help protect your assets and ease the administration of the estate for your family.