You've taken the important step of creating a last will and testament, so now you can put the matter behind you for good. Right? Not necessarily.
While for many people family is the most important thing in life, it can be difficult sometimes to idealize family dynamics. Every family is different, and when life is shaken by the loss of a loved one, sometimes family members experience bitter conflict for a number of reasons.
It's an issue that we occasionally revisit because of its increasing importance in modern estate planning. We're talking about planning your digital legacy.
It is increasingly common for adult children to become caregivers for their elderly parents. But what if it becomes known that the adult child caregiver is actually taking advantage of the parent by misappropriating estate assets?
Creating a will is an essential part of estate planning, and not taking this basic step can prove extremely costly for the estate -- not only in terms of unnecessary loss of assets, but also in terms of heart-rending family conflict. Additionally, when a person dies intestate -- that is, without a will -- provincial laws determine who will be estate executor and how estate assets and debts will be distributed, and this manner of distribution is often not in the best interests of the family.
In addition to the grief of losing a loved one, problems with the deceased's will can add costly conflict to an already difficult time. In many cases, litigating the dispute drains the inheritance in question, and that has been the case for two sisters whose father died in Ontario.
In estate planning, the will is generally assumed to be the foundational document in which you are free to say how your assets should be distributed. And for the most part, that is true.
According to Statistics Canada, the average net worth of Canadian families has risen significantly in the last two decades. Between 1999 and 2012, average wealth increased by 73 per cent -- from $319,800 to $554,100. Much of this wealth is held by baby boomers, and it is estimated that, in the next four decades in North America, more than $30 trillion in assets will be passed from boomers to their heirs.
If you have an adult child with an incapacitating disability, then you undoubtedly want to plan your estate so that it provides for your child's needs when you are unable to do so yourself. There are numerous ways to do this, and it is important to choose the strategy that best meets your family's needs.
Creating a will is an essential part of any comprehensive estate plan, but too often disputes over estate assets -- along with the resulting heartache among family members -- are due to mistakes in the will or failure to update it when major life events occur.