Estate Planning Basics
If you are like me, you've worked hard most of your adult life trying to accumulate wealth and making sure your loved ones have everything that they need. You've made good financial choices. You've bought a condo, index funds, individual stocks, and started your own business.
Now that you're approaching middle age, have you thought about what would happen to that wealth if something were to happen to you? You should consider some basic estate planning activities:
Write up a personal balance sheet
If something were to happen to you, would your loved ones know where to find all of the stuff that you own? Likely not.
Take the time to list out everything that you own and owe. Don't forget those bank accounts you opened up a long time ago and rarely use, or your employer sponsored registered plans, and any old shares you own from exercising former employer's options.
Store your personal balance sheet in a safe place or with a trusted advisor. Let your family know where to find it in case of an emergency.
Update your beneficiaries
If you have any investment accounts or life insurance polices (many people do through their employer), take the time to update your beneficiaries. This is especially important if you've recently experienced significant life events. Last thing you want is your ex getting your retirement savings after a bad breakup. Also, by naming beneficiaries to these accounts, the assets will pass outside of your estate directly to your loved ones, saving probate fees around 1.4%.
Consider a will
In BC, if you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to BC law. This can get quite complicated and expensive. Consider talking with a lawyer to write up a will to ensure your assets are distributed per your wishes. If your situation is fairly straight forward, you may be able to write up your own will. Follow the instructions at: