Estate planning is about ensuring that your assets are distributed in the way you wish and minimizing the burden on your loved ones after you pass away.
One of the most important aspects of estate planning is making sure that you have valid and up-to-date documents, which includes will(s) and powers of attorney.1 If you die without a will (intestate), your assets will be distributed according to your province’s intestacy rules, which could be very different from what you intended. For instance, your intended beneficiaries or charities may be left out while unintended beneficiaries may be included.
Critical legal documents
To get started with creating your estate plan, you will need to assemble relevant legal documents:
- A will is crucial for estate planning. It states who will be entrusted with administering your estate/ongoing trusts and how the assets will be distributed upon death.
- A power of attorney is advised in all provinces except Quebec (in Quebec, it’s advised to have a mandate2). You need a power of attorney for financial affairs and a personal directive for personal care if you become incapacitated.
- In Quebec, a mandate provides for the management of your financial affairs as well as personal care, including healthcare decisions.
Benefits of an estate plan
A proper estate plan will:
- arrange your affairs in an orderly manner to minimize the burden on your family
- ensure your assets pass to the heirs of your choice
- facilitate efficient administration of your estate
- reduce income tax payable after your death and adequately fund its payment
- provide for management of property for beneficiaries who lack the skill or ability to do it themselves
- appoint a trustee to manage funds or property for minors
- provide for guardianship of minor children
How to get started
- Get organized. Use this checklist to gather the information you will need and think about how you wish to distribute your estate.
- Discuss the roles of executor,3 trustee and guardians with the selected individuals. Contact a lawyer* (a notary in Quebec) to begin the process of drafting your legal documents. MD Financial Management can help you enlist a qualified lawyer or notary.
*MD Financial Management maintains a list of qualified lawyers and notaries in most major centres who specialize in wills and estates. This list is available upon request. Any lawyer or notary is retained directly by the client. MD does not guarantee the quality of their services and the client is responsible for associated fees. Contact your MD Advisor for assistance.
While estate planning may not be an easy topic to think about and the process, itself, can be complicated, you will gain peace of mind knowing that your estate will be settled according to your wishes and with as little stress as possible on your loved ones. Talk to your MD Advisor to get started, and refer to our FAQ to learn more about specific issues related to estate planning.
Learn more about MD's estate and trust offering or contact an MD Advisor to find out how we can help.