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Reviewing beneficiary designations can ease estate administration

Many Canadians mistakenly believe that writing a will is a "set it and forget it" exercise. This could not be further from the proof. Regular review, improvements and clarifications are important to in Ontario estate planning. Making some of these updates could save executors from an estate administration challenge down the line.

One of the first things that should be regularly reviewed is beneficiary designations. If one's net worth increases, or an account structure is altered, instructions may need to be adjusted. Should payments be based on account amounts, percentage of overall wealth, or direct amounts? This is something that can be discussed with a lawyer depending on the organization of one's wealth.

Life insurance is another thing to consider. Even in retirement, a surviving spouse may need life insurance payments to make up for pension income that terminates upon death. Life insurance can also help with tax management in transitioning money or assets, depending on the policy at hand. Those who look to make moves to avoid probate, be it life insurance, trusts, or signing over property titles, should ensure the move is legally sound before following through.

Other things can chance over time. Marital status, the birth or death of family members, advance loans to beneficiaries and changes in the value of investments can all have an impact on plans. It is therefore important to regularly review one's estate planning documents with an Ontario lawyer. A regularly updated and verified estate plan will be the easiest to manage in estate administration. Those dealing with outdated or questionable wills and documents should seek legal counsel to understand their next steps.

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