Planning your financial estate through a will

Handling of financial assets are often a major issue and a potential cause of stress for families after a loved one passes.

In my last article (Estate Planning 101), the first of a two-part series on estate planning, I shared some tips on how you can get started on structuring your estate. I covered how to establish joint tenancy, naming beneficiaries, and ensuring you have life insurance. I also discussed why it’s important that we structure our estate and not assume we are too young, or not rich enough.

In my second installment on this topic, I want to focus on how you can plan your financial estate using a will.

Since questions related to the handling of financial assets are often a major issue and a potential cause of stress for families after a loved one passes, my goal is to provide a quick overview of the process and considerations for addressing this through a will.

Consult with a lawyer or notary

A will is a complex legal document in which you lay out exactly what you want done with any assets you own when you die – property, money, investments and personal belongings. To get started on your will, book an appointment to meet with a lawyer or notary to discuss your estate and wishes. As there are rules that must be followed for the will to be valid, it is recommended that you seek expert assistance from a professional who is well qualified in this area. Taking the time to ensure your will is done right will save your loved ones from unneeded financial headaches later.

Choose an executor you trust

You will need to name an executor in your will. This is an individual who will be responsible, by law, for distributing your assets. In other words, the executor has the legal authority to deal with your estate. Your executor could be a family member, close friend or lawyer, depending on how complicated the distribution of your estate might be. The executor makes an assessment of the estate, pays debts and distributes remaining assets among beneficiaries, as determined by the will.

Appoint a guardian

In addition to determining how you want your assets distributed, it’s important to choose a guardian if you have young children. Selecting a guardian provides assurance that should you and your partner pass away, the financial needs of your children under the age of 19 will be looked after by someone you trust. Discuss your choice of a guardian with your lawyer or notary when working on your will.

Review and update your will as needed

You will need to update your will whenever your financial or personal situation changes. These changes might include the birth of a child or the purchase of new property such as a house. It’s a good rule of thumb to review your will every three to five years to make sure it reflects your current financial assets and your wishes.

Compile a list of important documents

In addition to your will, put together a list of bank accounts you hold, as well as a record of all your investment and insurance policies and keep it in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box in your financial institution. This will go a long way in helping your executor locate important financial documents quickly.

Store it safely

You will need to provide your executors with information on where your will is stored and how to access it. So, once your will has been correctly signed and witnessed, have it stored – along with your list of important documents – in a secure place. Consider renting a safety deposit box from your financial institution for this purpose. Given the critical importance of your will in determining financial decisions after death, you want to make sure that it’s protected from fire, flood, damage, or loss.

This is perhaps one of the more difficult topics I have addressed in my column. Taking the step to put together a will can be a challenging one because it can force us to confront our own mortality. But we can’t avoid it as it’s a necessary part of planning your finances. If you haven’t yet done so, I hope that this article provides you with the needed background to take that step and book an appointment with your lawyer or notary.

Kathy McGarrigle is chief operating officer for Coast Capital Savings.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Guildford’s Winter Festival raises nearly $7K for Surrey Memorial Hospital

Funds raised through two weekends of skate rentals, on-site donations

Woman in Fraser Health region confirmed as sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Court awards Surrey Costco shopping cart collector $583K after car pins him

Kurtis Ryan Burdeniuk, 22, was retrieving carts when driver backed into him in the parking lot, pinning him

Royal Canadian circus coming back to Cloverdale

June dates for rebranded circus in year of expansion into U.S.

Committee that replaced Surrey’s Public Safety Committee seven months ago has never met

Surrey mayor dissolved safety committee in July 2019, replaced it with Interim Police Transition Advisory Committee

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, calls for end to blockades

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

Woman missing out of downtown Maple Ridge

Police seek public’s help locating Atefeh Jadidian

Petition seeks to remove local police department from Lindsay Buziak murder case

American woman starts online petition in hopes of helping Buziak family

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

‘Chain reaction pile up’ closes southbound traffic on Coquihalla Highway

Black Press Media has reached out to RCMP, paramedics for details

Exploding enrolment prompts opening of second TWU campus in Richmond

Langley’s faith-based Trinity Western University opens a second campus in Richmond

Fraser Valley seniors’ home residents go without meds for a night due to staff shortage

Residents speak out about staff shortages that are leading to serious safety concerns

Most Read