Estate planning doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience. Mindfully planning what happens to your property and other assets after your death can empower your loved ones and have your intentions heard.
Key Terms About Estate Planning
You should understand several terms before delving into the world of estate planning. A firm grasp of the language surrounding wills and estates leaves you with a solid base to begin more in-depth discussions on the topic.
- Power of Attorney: a legal document you can use to pass along authority to manage your financial affairs on your behalf should you become unable to do so on your own
- Will: a legal document declaring a person’s wishes regarding the distribution of their property after their death
- Assets: a resource with value; an asset could be real estate, cash, stock portfolios, or material possessions
- Liabilities: debts that need to be paid; liabilities could include mortgage or loan payments that your estate will pay upon your death
- Beneficiaries: people or institutions that receive a portion of your estate after liabilities and taxes are paid
- Executor: the person responsible for carrying out a person’s wishes as laid out in their will
After understanding these essential terms about estate planning, you’re ready to start checking off your list and creating a plan.
Questions to Consider
Planning your estate should begin with asking yourself a few critical questions. The answers to these questions will help you start shaping how you want your will to look and where you want your assets distributed.
What Assets Do You Currently Have?
Make a list of your current assets. Start by going through your home and possessions. When you think of an item, what do you want to happen to it once you’ve passed? These physical items may include your home itself, as well as:
After you’ve made a list of your physical possessions start going through your non-physical assets. These assets may include bank accounts, investment portfolios, retirement savings plans, and insurance policies like life, home, and auto.
Your assets, both physical and non-physical, will need to be described in your will in detail. You should gather all the account numbers associated with your financial accounts to ensure easy access and distribution when required.
What Liabilities Do You Currently Have?
Part of estate planning is laying out a course of action, allowing debts to be paid swiftly so your executor can pass the remaining assets to your beneficiaries. Liabilities include any obligations that need to be paid from your estate, including:
- Auto loans
- Open credit cards
Your will executor will be responsible for paying these debts from your estate. After these debts have been paid, your executor will deliver the remaining assets in your estate to your beneficiaries.
An executor can be a loved one or trusted individual; however, many people choose to appoint a lawyer, accountant, or financial advisor as an executor since they are generally considered to be impartial.
Who Are Your Beneficiaries?
Choosing your beneficiaries goes hand in hand with planning what you want to be done with your estate upon your death. Beneficiaries can often be individuals such as friends and family members. In other cases, some people choose an institution like their alma mater, a hospital foundation, or another charity as a beneficiary.
Writing Your Will
The complexity of your estate determines the scope of your will. If you have numerous assets and liabilities, your will needs to be finely detailed to ensure you’ve given clear instructions about where your estate will be distributed.
In most cases, seeking professional advice is advisable to help create your will. Professionals like lawyers and accountants can help you sift through the various legal responsibilities associated with estate planning.
Financial Planning & Your Estate
Planning what happens when you die can be a daunting task. The thought of what happens to your assets and loved ones when you aren’t around is inherently emotional.
But planning your estate can benefit your family during their grieving process, especially when you include instructions about funeral planning and estate taxes that take the weight off your loved ones’ shoulders. Estate planning begins with sound financial planning. Get in touch with the team at Qopia Financial to learn more and get started today.
Qopia Investments is a trade name of Aligned Capital Partners Inc. (ACPI). ACPI is regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (www.iiroc.ca) and a Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (www.cipf.ca). Qopia Investments is registered to advise in securities and mutual Funds to clients residing in Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Colombia. This publication is for informational purposes only and shall not be construed to constitute any form of investment advice. The views expressed are those of the author and may not necessarily be those of ACPI. Opinions expressed are as of the date of this publication and are subject to change without notice and information has been compiled from sources believed to be reliable. This publication has been prepared for general circulation and without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. You should not act or rely on the information without seeking the advice of the appropriate professional.
Investment products are provided by ACPI and include, but are not limited to, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. Non-securities related business includes, without limitation, fee-based financial planning services; estate and tax planning; tax return preparation services; advising in or selling any type of insurance product; any type of mortgage service. Accordingly, ACPI is not providing and does not supervise any of the above noted activities and you should not rely on ACPI for any review of any non-securities services provided by
Investment products are provided by ACPI and include, but are not limited to, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. Non-securities related business includes, without limitation, fee-based financial planning services; estate and tax planning; tax return preparation services; advising in or selling any type of insurance product; any type of mortgage service. Accordingly, ACPI is not providing and does not supervise any of the above noted activities and you should not rely on ACPI for any review of any non-securities services provided by Qopia Financial.
Any investment products and services referred to herein are only available to investors in certain jurisdictions where they may be legally offered and to certain investors who are qualified according to the laws of the applicable jurisdiction. The information contained does not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any product or service. Past performance is not indicative of future performance, future returns are not guaranteed, and a loss of principal may occur. Content may not be reproduced or copied by any means without the prior consent of the author and ACPI.Disclosure of commissions in mutual funds in accordance with NI 81-102 (15):“Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutualfund investments. Please read the prospectus before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, theirvalues change frequently, and past performance may not be repeated”.
Managing Director of Qopia Financial / Investment Advisor of Aligned Capital Partners Inc.
Since 2012, I have been helping Canadian families with their financial planning needs, with solutions ranging from personal and corporate life insurance and living benefits to estate preservation tools. As a registered investment advisor with Aligned Capital Partners Inc., I am able to provide investment strategies that are tailored to each individual’s needs. I have earned the distinguished Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Canada’s premier wealth transfer and estate planning designation as well as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation which is the gold standard in the financial planning industry.