Even when someone dies, his or her debts must be paid. Those payments come from the person's estate. It's only after those debts have been taken care of and other expenses like funeral costs, taxes, legal fees and probate fees, if any, have been met that beneficiaries receive what they have been bequeathed. There are some prudent steps individuals can use to minimize those payments when estate planning.
The first and foremost way for individuals to ensure their heirs receive all they possibly can from their estates is to leave a will that's valid. Those who die intestate, or without a will, are leaving who gets what to chance since the government will step in to handle their affairs. Those who have assets like RRSPs, life insurance policies and other such accounts should make sure to name beneficiaries for them. Doing so will ensure the money goes directly to those the benefactor intends, and they will bypass the estate administration process. That money is not a part of probate fees when beneficiaries are named.
The fees associated with probate, which is a process that proves to the court that the executor named in the will is, in fact, that person, can also be reduced by joint property ownership. These assets will go to the surviving joint owner. There may be extenuating circumstances if the property is owned with someone other than a spouse. A lawyer would be able to explain the legalities.
Pre-planning a funeral may not save a lot of money in estate planning, but it will remove the burden from family members who are grieving. Permanent insurance policies also save in estate planning. A lawyer in Canada will be able to advise his or her clients who are planning their estates on how to ensure their beneficiaries receive as much as possible.
Source: getsmarteraboutmoney.ca, "Reducing your estate costs", Accessed on Dec. 30, 2017