Wills and Estate Information session

November 20, 2014
Angie Bilodeau


In addition, we discussed:


What does estate planning mean?
  • More than just a will....team approach...lawyer, financial planner, and accountant. We need to plan before death to make sure what you want to happen actually happens. Look at whole big picture.
  • The day you die, you are deemed to have disposed of everything. Lots of stuff to think about when you are planning for death. Sometimes may need a life insurance policy to fund a final tax bill.
  • Getting a will kit doesn't look at whole picture.
  • Individuals...look at assets and liabilities, companies....look at corporate structure, and family trust.
  • Estate plan... 4 docs....will, POA (during lifetime...only valid while you're alive) personal care directive(used to be called living will)....who makes medical decisions if you can't, guardianship appointment for minor children.
  • You can say anything you want in your will...it is your last chance to say what you have to say.
  • Certain things you can and can not do in wills.

Do I really need a will?

  • Most people don't understand that it's not a matter of what you have, it's the mess you leave afterwards.
  • When there is no will, lawyers and investigators make a lot of $$$
  • In NS if you die without a will....Intestate Succession Act says how your Estate will be divided.
  • It can create havoc in family relationships.
  • Estate - a trust and your executor holds them in trust for the beneficiaries.
  • Things to consider for will
  • Need an executor....someone that you trust...should have an alternate executor as well. If anything goes wrong, an executor can be held personally responsible. There is an insurance policy you can purchase for the executor to protect them. Could be a trust company....they do it all, but they charge a lot.
  • Specific gifts in the will
  • Insurance policies to cover children
  • Family cottage. Usually a lot of taxes owing. A lot of planning needs to be done around this one.
  • Limitations of a will ... Testator Family Maintenance Act....judge can rewrite your will after .... Will can be challenged. If you want to leave someone out of the will get it in writing....this will help if they try to challenge it.
  • What revokes your will? Marriage. Not divorce. Divorce...new legislation, if divorce is finalized, and clauses that mention ex spouse is nullified.
  • Separation does not nullify your will.
  • Every two to five years you should mentally think about your will.

Q. Can you attach a hand written directive to a will giving certain items to people?
A. Yes, but can be tricky.
Will kits. Can't deal with several issues. Better than nothing, but be careful that you aren't leaving a bigger mess.

Power of Attorney...valid as soon as you sign it. Can do anything except sign a new will or change beneficiaries on investments. Very important to have. Keep it in a safe place. If you don't totally trust the POA, keep in vault at a lawyer and only let them have it if you're incompetent.
 
Personal care directive. Used to be called living will. All decisions ... Who picks the home I go in...everything that has to do with you. Recommend having discussions with the person who has this.

Probate. What is it? You send the original will to probate court, and executor swears that it is last will and testament. Probate court stamps it. Banks etc want probate so they can ensure they have last will and testament.

What pulls you in to probate?

  • Property. If you own in your name alone. Investments in your name alone with no beneficiary designation. Life insurance if it pays out to an Estate, but not if it pays to a person, bank accounts with a significant amount of money (every bank is different). Whole probate process takes quite awhile.

Disclaimer:  The comments expressed here are the opinions of Angele Bilodeau of Crowe Dillon Robinson and may not represent the views of IPC Investment Corporation