When it comes to estate planning, many think of a will — however, a will is just one part of the process. In fact, there are many aspects of an estate plan you need to remember.
First is understanding what an estate plan is. An estate plan is responsible for administering your property when you’re gone, including any assets or liabilities you owned. Without one, the government will be responsible for managing your property, meaning your wishes aren’t considered, your property isn’t evenly dispersed, or the government keeps that property if a beneficiary can’t be found.
Check-Out Plan can also be a powerful part of your estate plan. This type of platform provides direction and information on the many other areas of life and in much more detail. Each jurisdiction has its own rules relating to which documents are legally enforceable. However, adding your CheckOutPlan to your estate plan is one way to ensure your wishes are carried out.
Now that you know the importance of estate planning, here are the things to remember when setting up your estate plan:
1. Set up a will
The first thing you need to do is to set up a last will and testament. This document outlines your wishes and how you want your property distributed among your loved ones. If you’re a parent, you need to name a guardian for your children. Similarly, if you have pets, this is where you’ll outline their care and who is to take ownership of them.
2. Choose your executor wisely
An executor is responsible for carrying out your last wishes and overseeing the closing of your estate. Make sure you choose an executor who has your best interest at heart, understands the importance of the role, and is reliable and organized.
3. Who is your power of attorney?
A power of attorney (POA) is someone who’ll have the ability to make financial decisions on your behalf should you become ill or injured. Without one, your family may have to go to court just for the ability to pay your bills.
4. Do you need insurance?
Insurance is your safety net! If you have a family to care for, consider what would happen if you were suddenly gone. Your spouse would be responsible for mortgage payments, car payments, bills, and the cost of daily living expenses.
5. How can you reduce taxes or probate?
There are ways to reduce the tax and probate on your estate, depending on your specific province or state. Legally verifying your will is a process known as probate and involves a fee. A good way to minimize probate is to structure your estate in a particular way. For example, filing beneficiary forms on bank accounts means your funds can skip the probate process.
6. Do you need to set up a trust?
A trust is an excellent idea. By holding property in a living trust, you could help your family to skip probate court altogether. It’s also a good idea for those who have young children and would like them to receive their inheritance when they’re older and more financially mature. You can even set up a trust for your pet, which will allow you to transfer ownership and set up financial compensation for your pet’s ongoing care and expenses.
7. Is your business protected?
With many sole proprietorship businesses, having a succession plan in place is a vital part of estate planning. Who will your business go to when you’re gone? If you have business partners, what’s your buyout plan?
8. What happens if you become ill — aka a “living will“?
A “living will” is unlike a last will and testament, it outlines your wishes in specific medical situations where you’re unable to make decisions. It also describes long-term care and medical procedures. Although a “living will” is not a legally binding document in Canada, it does act as a means to communicate your wishes to your loved ones.
9. Plan for the funeral expenses
Part of end-of-life planning and estate planning should involve planning for the celebration of your life. You can set up an account to cover the costs of your funeral to take that stress off of your family and friends.
10. Review, update, & store documents
Your life is going to change. The estate planning you completed ten, or even five, years ago will not cover all of your assets. You may have grandchildren, re-marry, or have a new pet to consider. Part of proper estate planning is periodically reviewing your plan to make sure it’s accurate and up to date.
Store your documents somewhere easily accessible for your power of attorney and family. Check-Out Plan provides a digital service for you to outline your end-of-life plan, involve your loved ones in the process, and indicate where all necessary accounts and paperwork can be found. Many people put off estate planning because it’s a hard subject to face. At Check-Out Plan, we’re re-imagining end-of-life planning. We want you to be able to get your loved ones involved, smoothly go through the stages of planning, and keep all of your preparation in one clear and concise place for reference. Start your plan today with a free trial.