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Balancing costs and benefits in estate administration

There are quite a few potential costs associated with distributing assets and liabilities after death. Some of these are avoidable, some are not; but, in most cases, the decision about whether to assume certain investments in estate administration comes down to the overall benefits for the beneficiaries and the long-term gains. For example, investing in fixing up a home before selling it, or in hiring an experienced Ontario estate administration lawyer, are worthwhile costs to assume during this time.

When a person passes away, his or her assets typically become part of the estate. The exception to this is jointly held assets; so, for example, if two people are on the deed to a home with right of survivorship, the other would automatically assume full ownership without contending with the estate. The estate will assume the costs of anything involved with managing estate administration before beneficiaries are given their share of assets.

A funeral is often the first situation where the estate pays for a service. Funerals, on average, cost between $2,000 and $20,000 in Canada. However, a simple cremation alone can be as low as $1,000. Once funeral costs are covered, other cost considerations come up. This can include estate settlement professionals, like lawyers, financial accountants and appraisal experts.

Costs can be higher for an estate when plans are not written down in a valid will. In these cases, intestacy rules are applied to determine beneficiaries, and the costs of tracking down family and carrying through the legal process involved can be draining to an estate. One of the best ways to avoid costs and holdups in estate administration is to work with an Ontario lawyer to validate a clear plan, and to update these documents frequently.

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