While planning for unexpected illness and death is not top of mind for many of us, the importance of estate planning can not be overstated. To provide protection both in your lifetime and on death, three estate planning documents are required: a Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive.
Still, estate planning can get complicated. The first step, then, is to educate yourself. (Reading this article is a great start!) This includes understanding each of the three estate planning documents and the legal terminology and considerations that go into each one. As a starting point, learn more about the basics of estate planning and the steps you need to take to start developing your own estate plan. When you’re ready, reach out to your ATB Wealth Advisor for additional resources. With an understanding of estate planning as a foundation, you will be better positioned to make educated decisions.
The next and most important step in estate planning is implementation. In other words, having estate planning documents in place. As with many things in the digital age, there are various do-it-yourself online tools available to assist with this.
However, for many reasons, such online tools may not be recommended. Rather in most situations, seeking legal advice and retaining a lawyer to prepare professionally drafted estate planning documents is advisable. Personal legal advice provides peace of mind that your estate plan will accurately reflect your wishes and your personal circumstances. Further, it ensures your estate plan is prepared with not only knowledge of the law but also with a practical understanding of how it may play out in the event of illness and death. This minimizes the cost of estate administration and the risk of litigation or conflict.
While not an exhaustive list, the following are some examples of situations and circumstances that require legal advice and a professionally drafted estate plan and would not be suitable for online planning tools:
- Complex family circumstances including but not limited to separation, divorce, second marriage, children with disabilities, estranged family members, family conflict or tension
- Minor or dependent beneficiaries
- Setting up testamentary trusts to protect beneficiaries for a wide range of reasons
- Assets in other jurisdictions or planning in multiple jurisdictions
- US or dual citizenship
- Executor, trustee, attorney and/or beneficiaries resident in other jurisdictions
- Ownership of a business including farming
- Specific wishes for beneficiaries, real estate, personal property etc.
Finally, once your estate plan is in place it is always a good idea to review it every few years, or sooner if your life circumstances change. This will provide a lifetime of protection for both you and your loved ones.
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The information provided in this article is a simplified general summary and is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional advice. Professional legal and tax advice should always be obtained as each individual’s situation is different. This information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, is made as to their accuracy or completeness. This information is subject to change and ATB Securities Inc. (Member Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and Canadian Investor Protection Fund), ATB Investment Management Inc. and ATB Insurance Advisors Inc. reserves the right to change the information without prior notice, and does not undertake to provide updated information should a change occur. ATB Financial, ATB Investment Management Inc., ATB Securities Inc. and ATB Insurance Advisors Inc. do not accept any liability whatsoever for any losses arising from the use of this document or its contents.