Tag Archives: Estates and Wills

Your estate and family money

Your estate and family moneyPrepare your family for what’s coming. The first time that your family finds out how much money they’re getting should not really be at the time that your will is read. It Should not be a surprise, you should be able to plan for this transition so that taxes are minimized and expenses associated with your state are well managed and maintained during the transition. Manage your estate and family money.

Give them some practice managing money

You may want to give them a little bit of practice managing money. If they have not already had this kind of situation to deal with. All children should have already savings set up for retirement. Your estate will just add to the retirement. In the event that they are not very good at managing money, you may want to give them a chance. Providing them with say $10,000 to give them a feel for what it’s like to have some money. Some will blow it spending the money on frivolous things, and then wonder what you’re going to do.

It can be a good lesson to find out what it’s like to have received some money. They may spend it and then realize that it’s gone. When you provide practice money for them you may want to also include some guidelines for how they should manage this money. Another approach is to help your children out when they most need it. For example if they need help paying off a loan, paying down the mortgage. Or paying for a car this might be a good time to provide them with these funds. You will get some of the benefit but seeing how much they appreciate the money that you’re helping them with.

Your estate and family money

Put your trust in a trustee

If you have a large estate, or feel that you need someone independently managing your estate, you may want to employ a trustee. Yes it will cost you some money which the estate will pay for. But you will have the satisfaction and confidence of knowing that your estate is well-managed> It will be managed along the guidelines that you provided.

Attach some guidelines with your estate

By all means provide some guidelines with your estate. Which either your children must follow or your trustees must implement. If your children are under 21 you may require an estate trustee to manage the estate. Provide the appropriate guidelines of how you want your estate managed. On the other hand if you may want to wait until your children are older and more mature. Let’s say 35 years, you can place your money in a trust. Arrange to have it managed by a trustee again according to the guidelines that you provide.

Why you Need to Have a Will

Why you Need to Have a WillWe have had a will ever since we were married which has been over 35 years. It was just the smart thing to do. We wanted to make sure that our kids and significant other were looked after in case something happened. However every once and awhile we run into someone our age who does not have a will. Why you Need to Have a Will? We are amazed that they have not done something about this major issue. Perhaps they just have not thought things through. Or they have this silly emotion that it puts you one step closer to the grave. You would be surprised at how many people actually think this.

Why you Need to Have a Will

If you are a responsible adult, then it is time to step up and do the right thing for your family. If you need to make some tough decisions, then make them, but get on with it. Here are some of the reasons why you should not delay this one more day!

  • Your kids
  • Your home
  • Saving for retirement
  • Purchasing insurance
  • Business ownership
  • End of life decisions

Having a will is only a part of estate planning. We will focus on this element on this blog, but please give some thought on how you want your estate dealt with in preparation for the time when you can no longer make decisions.

Many of us think of estate planning as something only seniors must do. The truth is, it’s essential for every adult with a spouse, child or business, regardless of age, to have solid plans in place. People in their 20s and 30s are in high gear. They may marry, start a family and buy a home. Some may start or buy a business. It’s all about getting started in life and nobody wants to think about taking their foot off the accelerator.

Having a will can provide some protection for the important people in your life  and assets that you have.

Children

If a young couple is killed in an accident, their young children must be raised by someone else. If the parents haven’t made wills, they have lost the opportunity to choose the new guardians of their children, and to have the children raised together in one family with someone they know. Most parents, confronted with the choice, would rather not have extended family members dispute guardianship in court. And certainly not many would want to risk the children becoming wards of the government.

Using a will, the parents can also make provision for money to flow from their estates to the guardians of the children to help pay for raising the children. This could be vitally important if two or three children are left behind to join a different family that already has two or three children of its own.

Buying a home

Even young people without children should plan ahead for a premature death that leaves one of them widowed. As mentioned, a will is essential – but estate planning doesn’t stop there. Some assets are not governed by a will, namely jointly held assets and assets with designated beneficiaries. It’s important that everything works together.

One of the largest purchases a young couple will make is a family home. They must understand the legal effect of a jointly owned home as opposed to a home held as tenants-in-common. An incorrect title can have a devastating effect if it causes a widowed person to lose his or her home as well.

Joint tenancy, which is by far the most common way that couples own their property, provides a right of survivorship to one owner when the other passes away. It keeps the house out of the estate; probate is not required for its transfer to the surviving owner. Tenancy-in-common doesn’t provide a right of survivorship. The half of a house owned by a deceased tenant-in-common falls into the deceased’s estate, where it’s subject to creditors, claims and delays.

Saving for retirement

Couples often start contributing to RRSPs when they’re young and they need to understand the legal, tax and financial effects of naming a beneficiary. They also need to consider who will be named as the beneficiary of life insurance policies. Leaving insurance proceeds directly to a spouse will have quite a different effect than leaving them to an estate, depending on what else is going on in that estate.

Because assets of a deceased are deemed to have been sold immediately before death, any tax that has been deferred becomes payable. RRSPs are funded with pre-tax dollars, so on the death of the owner, the deemed sale triggers the payment of taxes on the RRSP. The payment of this tax can be avoided on the death of the RRSP owner if he or she names a spouse as the beneficiary. When a spouse is named, the payment of tax is deferred again – until the spouse dies or takes the money out. This also protects the spouse in the sense that the RRSP doesn’t fall into the deceased’s estate so it is safe from claims, creditors or litigation.

Buying life insurance

Leaving a life insurance policy to a spouse directly also keeps the insurance proceeds out of the estate, ensuring that there are funds in the spouse’s hands no matter what is going on in the estate. This is better for the spouse. On the other hand, there are excellent reasons to name the estate as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. The main benefit is that it provides cash in the estate that can be used for paying tax or paying debts (such as paying off the mortgage on the couple’s home).

Life insurance can also be used to provide money that can be distributed to one of the children. For example, the deceased was leaving his or her major asset – a business or farm- to one child. They didn’t have enough assets to give a similar amount to another child. Another use of life insurance is to create funds for holding a property such as a cottage in trust. So it’s very individualized depending on what the person is planning to do, and based on what assets already exist.

Life insurance is much cheaper at this age than it is when people are older. Young people should consider the various ways that life insurance can be used to their advantage. It can replace income. Life insurance can pay out a mortgage, leaving the widowed spouse with clear title to the home. It can provide funds to leave in trust for the children. It can provide cash flow to be used to pay taxes and expenses. Young couples should ensure that they are neither under-insured nor over-insured.

Starting a business

Finally, young people who are tying up a great deal of time, effort and capital in a business must plan right from the start to protect their families. If the business is incorporated and there are other shareholders, there should be a buy-sell agreement put into place that clearly states what happens to the shares of a deceased shareholder. Often the agreement provides that the other shareholders will buy back the shares. In a fledgling company (and often in more established ones, for that matter), this probably means that a life insurance policy owned by the company will be taken out on the shareholder’s life.

Living Wills

You might be incapacitated by an accident, stroke or some other complication. Who do you want to make the decisions about your care and medical treatment? How far should they take the treatment in terms of trying to save your life? These are all questions that you do not want to leave up to just anyone. It should be someone you trust and not a court appointed bureaucrat!