Planning Ahead to Avoid Conflict
Family conflicts on the death of a loved one are all too common. Conflict costs money (often costs are paid out of the deceased estate, diminishing its value), time and hard feelings. A great many of these conflicts can be avoided by planning ahead and taking professional advice to ensure an orderly transition of assets to the intended beneficiaries.
It is not just conflict that can be avoided or minimised, with the appropriate professional advice taxes due on the transfer of assets can be avoided or reduced. While the drafting of a will is a good first step, it usually is only the first step for a complete estate plan. There are many misconceptions around estate planning which may deter individuals from taking that initial step or seeking professional advice. These may include:
Myth: I am young. It is too early for me to be considering an estate plan.
Reality: While we may have a reasonable expectation of a long and healthy existence, life happens – as do accidents, illness, and premature death.
Myth: My assets are not valuable enough to warrant seeing a professional.
Reality: Estate planning is more than just wealth. Who would make decisions for you should you lose the capacity to do so? Most of us are fortunate enough to accumulate assets during our lifetime. There is no minimum limit required to give forethought to who you would like to leave your assets to and to leave clear instructions to ensure this happens.
Myth: I cannot make a will and plan my estate without discussing some really awkward topics I would prefer to avoid.
Reality: This reality check has more to do with the empathy and professionalism showed by our lawyers. Asking difficult questions to make the plan that you want, to protect those you love, is what we do – well. One typical example arising from a blended family situation – how do you ensure your assets go to your children, from a previous marriage, and not to the children of your new spouse? It is not that you do not trust your new spouse to do the right thing, on your death, and look after your children, but you want certainty for your children. If fact you have a moral (and depending on age, a legal) obligation to look after your children on your death. Your may be concerned that raising these issues may suggest a lack of trust in your spouse. We approach this issue from an objective, legal perspective noting that you need to make provision before your death for your biological children because once you have passed (and the assets have transferred to you spouse, for example) your children no longer have the ability to challenge that step parent’s will. What if your spouse remarries to someone who brings their own children into the equation? How do you ensure assets, originally your own, do not end up with the new spouse’s children?
Myth: I am too busy.
Reality: Yes, life is busy, but consider the consequences should you unexpectedly die either intestate (without a will) or leaving an old will which is very outdated and does not reflect your current living situation?
Myth: My life is too complicated, I’ll deal with it tomorrow.
Reality: With the assistance of one of our estate planning professionals, we are able to take the most complex situations (such as family trusts, blended families, foreign property, non-Canadian nationals etc) and establish a plan that fits your goals. Once you have had the initial consultation, our lawyers will carry the project to a conclusion when you sign off on your plan. We will also advise you to reconsider your plan as your life circumstances change and at regular periodic intervals.
If you wish to schedule a preliminary telephone call please contact Miriam Pallmann on 250 869 1172 or complex the in take form to request an initial free consultation.