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Estate planning basics in Canada

While experts recommend that everyone undertake thorough estate planning, it is especially important for Ontario residents with children, substantial assets or a business. Proper estate planning ensures not only that someone's wishes will be carried out upon their death, but it also makes life easier for the executor and their heirs.

A will sets forth how someone wants their property to be distributed upon their death, and it also names an executor, the person tasked with carrying out what is stated in the will. It is recommended that people ensure their will is clear in an effort to make things easier for their executor as well as set aside an insurance policy to pay for costs incurred during this process.

To make things easier for one's beneficiaries, considering tax-efficient assets, such as registered retirement savings plans and tax-free savings accounts, which may allow people to bypass probate as well as benefit from certain tax advantages, would be wise. There are also specific tools that are used by estate planners, such as permanent life insurance, that allow the beneficiary to avoid probate as well as taxation of assets.

It is important that the estate plan someone has includes all appropriate documents and that those documents are current and comply with related laws. Marriage, births and divorce may change someone's estate planning needs as well as beneficiary designations, and a will and estate planning lawyer may be able to assist someone in ensuring that their plan is accurate and complete. A lawyer may also be able to help an individual set up plans that reduce taxation and avoid legal complications and possible delays following their death.

Source: The Huffington Post Canada, "Estate Planning Will Give Your Loved Ones Peace of Mind", Andrew Sheppard , August 06, 2014

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