Estate Planning for Canadians
Many of us don't want to think about dying, but the reality is that we will. Making a will is perhaps the most important thing we can do, but estate planning is about much more than that. In her MoneySense article "Estate planning: What you need to know", Romana King discusses the importance of having a plan that will protect you, your family and your wealth, now and in the years to come. Here are just a few things she recommends you do:
- Make a will. Although it isn't legally required to have a will, it's a good way to make your wishes known. If you die without a will, the government will decide who your beneficiaries are and how your assets will be divided up. It is best to have a will prepared by a lawyer or at the very least have them look over a will that you have prepared yourself.
- Find a responsible person to act as your executor. This can be a difficult task. You can ask more than one person to act as your executor, but they should have your best interests at heart. Once this is done put your will in an easy-to-find place and let the executor(s) know where it can be found.
- Appoint a Power of Attorney for Property. If you should become incapacitated due to illness or injury, who will make financial decisions for you? This document allows you to choose a trusted person to deal with your property should you be unable to do so yourself.
- Find a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. This is the person you name who can make decisions about your health care, housing and other aspects of your personal life should you become incapable of making personal decisions due to mental incapacity such as illness or senility and is effective as long as it was made when you were mentally sound.
In order to keep everything up-to-date an estate plan needs to be reviewed from time to time especially if there are major life events such as a death, divorce or debilitating disease. Check out these books for more information about wills and estate planning: