You're not alone if the prospect of talking with your heirs about estate planning makes you uncomfortable. In fact, earlier this year a poll by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce showed that nearly 50 per cent of Canadians have not broached the topic of inheritance with their heirs, yet more than half of Canadians expect to leave assets to heirs upon death.
As families in Ontario begin gathering for the warmth and good cheer of the holidays, now may be an opportune time to calmly discuss your estate plan and perhaps get some helpful input from family members.
With that in mind, consider the following issues that you may want to address with your loved ones:
- Planning for incapacity. Have you assigned powers of attorney for property and personal care? Would any of your family members perform these duties especially well?
- Business succession planning. Have you considered maximizing business assets by setting up a family trust or implementing an estate freeze? What is the best way to balance the needs of all stakeholders, including family members?
- Clarifying your plan for who gets what. Do you have loved ones who are particularly suited to receive certain items of property? Can you explain why in case your loved ones ask?
- Naming an estate trustee (executor). Would you prefer someone other than your spouse to handle the distribution of your estate?
For obvious reasons, the tendency to postpone discussing end-of-life wishes is understandable, but the truth is that an estate plan that does not account for your family's unique needs could have multiple negative consequences, including conflict between loved ones and depletion of estate assets.
At Hagel Lawfirm, we understand how difficult these decisions can be, but taking the right steps now can provide peace of mind, as well as long-term benefits for you and your family.
For more on these issues, please see our overview of inheritance planning.