But to understand the scope of estate planning, you have to go beyond the labels and keep in mind the underlying objectives of the process.
to create an estate
to conserve your assets
guidance in making appropriate plans for the distribution of your assets to yourself as income during your lifetime or to your spouse, children, descendants after your death
Initially, you’ll have to describe how the estate assets and/or the income derived there from are to pass to your beneficiaries. To meet these intentions, the basic item in every estate plan is the will.
Often, a valid will (that you review periodically) is all that is required for purposes of estate planning. Or, you may want a plan that will help you split your income to reduce taxes. In more complex cases, the plan will accomplish an estate freeze to minimize the income tax payable on certain types of property which may be deemed to be disposed of immediately before death.
Naturally, one of your key concerns in arranging your estate plan will be reducing both federal and provincial taxes. Your Certified Financial Planner can describe some of your alternatives before you decide.
Make it flexible
Flexibility is a key ingredient in any estate plan. The plan should be adjustable in the event of either a change in the law or in family circumstances. For instance, what will happen in the event of the birth of an additional child, premature death of an intended beneficiary or a divorce?
The desire for flexibility will often call for the implementation of a simple plan at least in the initial stages, with room for amendment to more complex arrangements as the need arises.
Seek professional advice
I can help you develop and review your estate plan. Of course, my role in such a setting is to be part of a team of professionals that will include your lawyer and accountant. By using such resources, you’ll be in a position to implement the most appropriate estate plan to meet your needs.