Expert Lawyers at Reasonable Rates
Estate Planning and Wealth Management
HS Law is located in Port Moody and serves the Tri Cites area including Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, New Westminster and Maple Ridge. Our law firm provides reasonable rates on Wills, planning an estate, estate management and estate litigation. HS Law offers strategic advice on wills, tax planning, health care decision solutions, trusts, bequests and many other areas to protect and increase your estate.
Professional planning for estates can help you retain more of your assets, while ensuring your wishes and instructions are carried out for your family, and providing an enduring legacy for your family. Estate plans can reduce the taxes and expenses of an estate, while speeding up the transition of estate assets to your beneficiaries. It is wise to have your estate plan prepared with the assistance of estate professionals such as an HS Law estate lawyer who is a legal expert in all the intricacies of planning and administering an estate.
Basics for Creating and Planning an Estate
There are some basic steps that are required when planning an estate. These steps are necessary for elements of your estate plan, such as tax minimization and taking care of your family and loved ones. It is prudent, and will save you a lot of time and grief, if you have an estate lawyer available to bounce ideas off of and provide you with the pros and cons of the options in relation to your estate.
The first step in an estate plan is preparing a list of your assets and liabilities. An asset summary should identify the ownership structure of these assets, as well as any beneficiary designations. Assets you may want to include are:
- Home and other properties
- RRSP, RRIF or TFSA and non-registered investments
- Bank accounts
- Face value of annuities and insurance policies
- Personal property (cars, jewelry, art, etc.)
- Pension assets
- Any Trust interests
- Current value of any business you own and corporate structure
- Digital assets, frequent flyer points, software, etc.
Liabilities you may want to include are:
- Debt related to investments
- Credit cards
- Lines of Credit
- Personal obligations – support payments, alimony, etc.
Be sure to also include the details and location of the following (if applicable) in your estate list:
- Signed original Will(s) and power of attorney
- Marriage contracts
- Divorce decrees -separation agreements
- Birth and marriage certificates
- Insurance policies
- Real estate deeds
- Safety deposit boxes and keys
- Pre-planned funeral arrangements
- Trust documents
- Assets in storage
This list will be invaluable to your surviving heirs, executor, administrators, trustee and-or advisors in the settlement and distribution of your estate.
The second step is to define the goals of your estate plan. What are the personal and financial goals for your estate plan? What special circumstances need to be addressed? Are there any special conditions you want followed? Here are some issues, circumstances, or points to consider that may alter your will or estate:
Who are the beneficiaries of your estate?
Beneficiaries can be classified as primary or secondary depending upon the intended order of distribution. A primary distribution of your estate usually includes a small number of heirs such as your spouse and children. A secondary distribution usually includes other heirs to your estate. You should also consider what happens if a beneficiary predeceases you.
How long are you intending to provide support for your heirs?
You may wish to provide support for an heir’s lifetime or a shorter duration. One option is to create a Trust where you can define the terms and conditions. If you are providing support for any minor children, it may be wise to consider naming a trustee to hold and manage their estate assets on their behalf.
Do you have significant assets that need to be addressed?
If you have assets of significant value and complexity, plans should be made to determine how these assets will be distributed and maintained. Assets such as a family business have additional planning needs and it may be advisable to consider a business succession plan.
How important is it to minimize income tax and probate taxes?
An estate plan can minimize, or defer taxes during your life and upon death. While reducing estate tax liability is important, there are other factors to consider. Some of these factors are the ability to control your wealth during your lifetime, the ability to control the disposition of property in accordance with your wishes and structuring your financial and business affairs to ensure proper distribution of your estate. For example: high net worth clients can deal with tax and rollovers of companies to transfer now, but defer tax to later.
Are you leaving any portion of your estate to charities?
There are methods of passing assets to charities before or at death. This can provide you with tax savings today.
What impact will the estate plan have on your family?
Things can become emotionally charged when it comes to families and an estate. It may be prudent to discuss your estate plan with your executor and beneficiaries so they understand your intentions. There are also more complex structures available such as a living trust or testamentary trust.
Do you want your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance immediately or at some future date?
When beneficiaries will receive their inheritance can have an effect on planning your estate. Do you want them to receive their inheritance immediately or staggered over a number of years. This often depends on maturity and whether the beneficiary is responsible with money.
There are obviously other factors that can affect the planning of your estate. An HS estate lawyer can provide you with professional advice on the points listed above and many other factors that may be applicable to planning your estate.
Implementing an Estate Plan
At HS Law, we are experts in all aspects of planning an estate and managing wealth. We can guide you through the process and help you create an estate plan strategy that meets your objectives. When applicable, we can also provide professional management services to administer your estate.
It should also be kept in mind that you should review your estate plan frequently, or yearly, as new developments such as new tax legislation and laws can have a major impact on your estate strategy.
Estate Planning Consultation
There are other factors that affect an estate plan but are beyond the scope of a web page. If you have questions and-or are ready to start planning your estate, give us a call. You can also schedule a no obligation consultation on estate planning and estate plans.