While nobody wants to spend too long thinking about their death, knowing that your family will be protected after your passing is one of the most rewarding and reassuring things you'll ever do. Estate planning is an essential feature and a responsibility you cannot overlook.
Contacting a dedicated lawyer like Mergen Law will lead you to success. Before you do, it's essential to understand how they can support you throughout the estate planning process. Here's everything you need to know.
Why hire a lawyer to help with estate planning?
Estate planning is a task that you could potentially handle yourself. However, working with a professional lawyer is the best route in every scenario. The only potential drawback is that you have to pay for the service. In truth, the small fee gets quickly vindicated when you consider how long it would take you to complete and file the correct documents. So, even from a financial perspective, it is the most logical solution.
Further benefits can be gained from hiring an estate planning lawyer include, but are not limited to;
- All documents will be legally compliant with complex probate laws, ensuring that your estate can be managed as you intended.
- Experienced professionals implement tailored approaches that break through the limitations of DIY templates, meaning your estate plans will reflect your wishes.
- Lawyers help you view the whole picture to ensure that you consider issues like taxes and know exactly what can get distributed to loved ones.
- A professional estate planning lawyer can help you cover issues like determining your personal representative.
- The lawyer will help you update documents following major life events, such as the birth or death of a beneficiary or significant changes to your financial status.
Ultimately, a lawyer will put a watertight estate plan in place, which removes much stress for the family following your death. When added to the peace of mind, you'll immediately gain from knowing that the management and distribution of your assets are under control and that hiring a professional will deliver the best results.
What does an estate planning lawyer do?
Many people assume that estate planning is solely about writing a will. However, effective plans cover much more. While 55% of Canadians have an up-to-date will, only 40% have a power of attorney confirmed. Millions more are missing out on other vital factors of their estate plan.
Hiring a lawyer ensures you'll gain a comprehensive approach covering every aspect to build a solid action plan. The key features are detailed below:
Decide beneficiaries, power of attorney, and trustees
When planning how your estate will get distributed following your death, one of the most critical steps is ensuring that all intended beneficiaries get included. Your estate planning lawyer will help you create a list of every person and charity organization to ensure that nobody gets missed out. It can be updated easily should births or deaths occur during your lifetime.
It is not possible to leave assets directly to a minor. Under Canadian law, you can leave up to $100,000 in bequest. At the same time, a trust can be established to manage assets until they reach adulthood. A lawyer can help establish the trust, name the trustees, and name the guardian of a minor's inheritance.
Confirming the personal representative (power of attorney) who will manage the estate following your death or incapacitation is another critical step.
Confirm the settlement of your financial obligations
Before the beneficiaries receive inheritance payments or the transfer of assets, any outstanding personal financial matters must be concluded. This includes, but is not limited to, paying any tax on earnings made since your last tax return and earnings made by assets between your death and the date of transfer.
It is also necessary to clear debts like loans and overdrafts. Suppose your life insurance package hasn't covered this issue. In that case, it might be advisable to set aside the funds to cover the cost of the funeral. A lawyer can factor this into your estate planning documents, utilizing the correct wording to save the executor of your state from potential headaches.
Writing the will
The will is a document that plays a central role in estate planning. However, many people do not realize that there are limitations. For example, it cannot supersede the beneficiaries of a life insurance policy. Meanwhile, the will should factor in terms of a prenup agreement that may have been formed earlier in your life.
Working with a lawyer ensures that the will is legally compliant, enforceable, and formed within the context of other documents that may already exist. Overlooking this factor, as many people take estate planning into their own hands, can create many complications after you pass. Sadly, this will cause a delay for your beneficiaries while the costs of executing the will are likely to rise too.
Furthermore, a lawyer can incorporate your life insurance policy to ensure that death taxes and expenses get paid. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) income tax on assets can be paid without leading to the sale of the assets.
Minimizing tax payments for beneficiaries
A dedicated estate planning lawyer won't only work for you, but they keep the best interest of your beneficiaries in mind too. Consequently, the legal procedures may also include setting up trust accounts to reduce the estate taxes that they will face.
It is also beneficial to make annual gifts to your listed charities and non-profit organizations that you have listed. These donations can be another way to reduce the taxable estate.
Finalize your wishes
Building a plan is one thing, but finalizing it is crucial to ensuring that your wishes get upheld. The confirmed estate plan works with life insurance policies and retirement funding. Other issues covered include:
- Palliative care needs.
- The ages at which you want children to receive their assets.
- Any backups or substitutes that may be required.
Of course, a dedicated lawyer will be ready to update your will over the years as required. So, it is a service that provides immediate benefits and support for the rest of your life and the long-term future of all beneficiaries.
The result is an estate plan supported by official documents that remove any ambiguity or reason for individuals to contest the decisions. As such, the executor of your will should encounter a far less complicated situation.
Start estate planning today.
Even if you are still relatively young and healthy, it is never too early to plan for after you die. When hiring an estate planning lawyer, only the best solution will do.
We at Mergen Law provide fully tailored services for simple or complex estate planning requirements. In addition to delivering the highest standards and full compliance with Canadian laws, our services get underpinned by transparent communication at every procedure stage. Get in touch to arrange a free consultation to find out more now.