Estate planning series – The basics

January 4, 2016

It's never too early to put your estate in order, and it's one of the best things you can do for those who matter. 

While nobody likes thinking about it, planning for a future after you’ve passed away is an important process to go through for your family’s sake. It is essential if you don’t want your loved ones to face financial or legal distress after you’re gone. But that’s exactly what could happen if you don’t make the effort beforehand to put your estate in order.

But there’s good news. It may be easier than you think to get your affairs in order so that the people and/or organizations you care about most will benefit from the estate you have created over your lifetime.

First, the benefits

We’ve all heard that estate planning is important. But why is it so important? First, by clearly defining your priorities and wishes, estate planning helps ensure your money goes where you want it to go. Second, estate planning can help ensure that the money you leave behind will take care of all the expenses you and your loved ones need it to cover (like a child’s education, an outstanding mortgage, etc.).

Where there are potential financial shortfalls, the estate planning process will help you devise ways to cover those costs as well. This may include important strategies you may not have considered – like taking out life, disability or critical illness insurance to help cover your financial needs during an extended illness, as well as things like your funeral expenses.

Another key benefit of having an estate plan is that it can help you maximize the amount of money you leave behind. Whether it’s for your family, friends, or a charity you care deeply about, estate planning can reduce the tax you pay on your savings beforehand, as well as the tax your loved ones pay upon the transfer of property.

Second, getting started

The first step to estate planning is to speak with your financial advisor. They can help you find ways to maximize what you leave behind and ensure your money and other assets go where you designate them. Your advisor can also bring in legal and tax experts, as required, to ensure your estate plan is set up to meet all of your needs – and the needs of those you care about most. Some documents you, your advisor and your estate planning experts will work through may include your will, durable power of attorney, testamentary or living trusts, and a health care proxy. You and your advisor should also set up regular reviews of your estate plan to ensure it continues to reflect your wishes going forward, while still making use of potential tax-reduction strategies.

Ask your financial advisor today about how to get started with estate planning, or visit AGF.com.

The contents of this Web site are provided for informational and educational purposes, and are not intended to provide specific individual advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax. Please consult with your own professional advisor on your particular circumstances.

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