All About Estate Planning and Wills

lawyer in Edmonton

All About Estate Planning and Wills

You have worked hard for all that you have and it is important to make the investment in a proper Estate plan to ensure your Estate is preserved for your beneficiaries and distributed according to your wishes. You need advice about the best way to achieve your Estate planning goals in the most tax efficient and most cost effective manner possible. You might have children who require Guardians and it is important to be in control of that decision. You might have loved ones who you would like benefit under your Will that cannot manage their assets on their own because they might be minors, live with disabilities, or they might not be wise with money. You might wish to ensure your Estate benefits your own descendants if you are concerned about one of their spouses. You might wish to gift differently to beneficiaries who are recipients of AISH payments. You might have special considerations relating to a blended family. Wills & Estate Lawyers at Prowse Chowne can guide you through the process to ensure you reach your Estate planning goals.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is a strategic legal and financial measure, which dictates how your estate, businesses, and trusts are to be handled after your passing. Estate planning not only allows you to secure your loved ones but also helps reduce the Income Tax payable by your Estate. A typical Estate plan includes a Will, an Enduring Power of Attorney, and a Personal Directive, although an Estate plan can include Trust documents and Life Insurance declarations if required. All of these documents are important tools which can help you reach your Estate planning goals.

Planning for the distribution of your assets is imperative, but it can be very complicated. These complexities can stem from your family structure, your asset holdings, or the choices you make during your planning process. During our Estate planning process, we ask questions about your family structure, your assets and your debts to ensure we are able to best advise you of the implications of your proposed plans. We work with you to ensure your Estate plan reaches your goals while preserving your wealth to the maximum extent possible. We develop a customized strategy considering Tax, Estate and Trust laws but also keeping practical solutions in mind, which will optimize the benefit to your intended heirs after you are gone and minimize the effects of serious cognitive disability resulting from accident or illness.

Legal Will

Your will is merely one segment of a comprehensive, well-rounded estate plan but it tends to be the primary interest of people who are initiating the Estate planning process. A comprehensive and clearly drafted Will does eliminate confusion relating to an Estate and can reduce family friction during the Probate and distribution process. Our estate planning professionals can ensure your wishes are legally documented with clarity and are carried out in the manner you personally intended.

Personal Directive

When a family member loses mental capacity due to an accident or illness it is devastating for the family. It is even more traumatic if this happens and you have not named someone to look after your personal and medical needs. A Personal Directive is known in some jurisdictions as a “Living Will”. This document ensures that the person you have selected is able to quickly and easily become your advocate and decision maker regarding all medical and personal decisions, to ensure your wishes are respected throughout the remainder of your life, including end of life decision making.

Enduring Power of Attorney

The Enduring Power of Attorney allows the person of your choosing to take authority over your assets if you become incapacitated. This allows the person you have named to use your assets to take care of you and your family using your assets quickly and easily. This ensures your assets will be preserved to the maximum extent possible as well as ensuring that you and your family remain as comfortable as possible; without delay or interruption. This can be a significant comfort to your loved ones if this situation arises.

Tax Minimization

The last thing you want is to see your loved ones deprived of financial resources, and that’s a valid concern. While Canada does not have legislated Estate tax, and Alberta only has minimal Estate taxes upon filing for Probate, Income tax can be a very large concern in Estate planning. There are concerns relating to remaining RRSP funds or RRIF funds potentially being considered income in the last year of life as well as death being a trigger for Capital Gains tax in certain circumstances. We will help you to determine whether your assets could be held in different ways during your lifetime to minimize this tax or we could help you create gifting strategies which can also minimize this tax.

Protection of Assets

Your passing can render your assets vulnerable to external forces such as creditor issues arising at death, prolonged disputes between heirs, and even a divorce that an heir has suffered. If your Estate is vulnerable to any of these risks, we can advise you of that risk and we can help you to avoid or minimize it to the maximum extent possible. We want you to continue to enjoy your life without constantly having to worry about what might happen to your loved ones and to your Estate after you are gone.

Changes to the Existing Will

There are times when financial and familial situation can lead to you bringing about changes in your will.

  • A divorce or the termination of an adult-interdependent relationship should ideally bring changes to your will
  • The birth or adoption of children or grandchildren can lead you to make certain adjustments to your will
  • Similarly, the death of a predefined beneficiary will lead to specific changes to your will
  • Any changes to your financial condition can also result in you need to make certain adjustments
  • You will be required name an alternate executor in the event of the demise of the original executor

Any changes you intend to make to your existing will has long-standing repercussions. Our legal experts will remain objective in their assessment of your financial or legal position, and advise these changes accordingly.

The time after your death will be a difficult period for your family, and ensuing financial and legal complications are not going to help. To proactively safeguard their future you can rely on our Wills services.