Estate planning: to optimize the transfer of your assets

Would you like your assets to be distributed to benefit your loved ones when you die? Financial professionals can help.

1. Act immediately

There are things we prefer not to talk about, but one day we have to deal with them. Estate planning is one of them. And according to Jean-Maurice Vézina, a financial planner, this should be done relatively early, once you have accumulated a certain amount of assets. And don’t worry: what you decide afterwards can be changed later. “Estate planning is a living thing,” says the professional. When there are new elements, they can be edited. »

2. Consult qualified professionals

To get the best possible advice, it is advisable to consult different types of professionals, either a financial planner – who will guide you and help you choose the best option based on your family and financial situation – a tax specialist – who will allow you to take into account the tax implications when choosing – and a notary , who will prepare the necessary legal documents during the trip and take care of drafting your will after the estate planning is complete. Together, they can ensure that your interests are well protected.

3. Get a listening ear and feedback

Have you thought about what you want and are you ready to begin the estate planning process? The financial services advisor you meet with will first want to hear from you, get to know you and have an idea of ​​both your needs and your intentions. Then, as Mr. Vézina does, he might rephrase what you told him while explaining the implications of what you’re suggesting. “My clients often realize that what they had planned is not the best for them,” she says. This is where the search for a solution begins.

4. Make a real estate appraisal

In order to give you adequate advice, the financial planner you consult will quickly need a balance sheet, that is, an up-to-date list of everything you own (either you or your spouse) as well as your debts. Investments, loans, real estate, vehicles, jewelry, artwork, business… nothing should be forgotten. Because once the property appraisal is complete, it will play a vital role in every decision you make.

5. Consider your specific situation

Figuring out who to leave each of your assets to may not be easy. Because there may be several challenges to overcome. Consider, for example, the case of a reconstituted family – that is, a family in which the children (or some of them) are not the children (natural or adopted) of both spouses. If the surviving spouse inherits, this will somehow result in the disinheritance of the children. Conversely, if the heirs are children, the surviving spouse is at risk of having nothing left. Not to mention that part of the inheritance will then be taxed, while it would not be if it were left to the spouse. Many families face such heartbreaking decisions. Difficult dilemmas can also arise when you have to protect a disabled or lost child, when you own a business, or when you don’t have a family.

6. Choose the best solution

The professionals you will be dealing with will take the time to carefully study your situation to suggest the best solution for you. For example, in the case of a blended family, life insurance taken out in the name of the children could offset the inheritance left to the spouse. And creating a trust could help protect an incompetent or minor child.

If your family or financial situation is quite complex, the process leading to the best decisions will undoubtedly require several meetings. Mr. Vézina, who heads a blended family and owns businesses, mentions that when he reviewed his estate planning, he worked on it for six months.

7. Bring your family into the mix

There is no obligation to act alone or in pairs (if you are a couple). When his clients have children, Mr. Vézina suggests that at least one of them attends the meeting. But all children can be present. However, in this case, the professional warns his clients. “I tell them that the balance sheet will be on the table and that the children accompanying them will learn all about their financial situation,” she says. Some people like it, others don’t. In any case, their decision will be respected. » Just as the decisions you make in your estate planning need to be respected.

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