Is Estate Planning the Elephant in the Room for Canadian Families?

Recent studies show that most Canadians are uncomfortable with discussing their finances, wills and estate planning with their parents, families, and even professionals:

  • 47% of Canadians have never brought up the subject of inheritance with the people they want to leave money to
  • 79% have not consulted a financial advisor about the tax implications of wealth left behind

Source: BNN.ca

What You Need to Know About Estate Planning

The importance of wills and estate planning cannot be understated and there are several essential reasons why Canadians need to get over their awkwardness and discuss estate planning with their families and with a professional Estate Planner.

For instance, do you know how to:

  • Allocate different types of assets to different people, depending on their relation to you?
  • Use Tax Free Savings Accounts as a tax shelter?
  • Appropriately use Trusts to avoid awkwardness and distrust among siblings?
  • Use Charitable Giving to enjoy tax benefits?

Once a professional estate planner has helped you with your estate planning and you are comfortable with your finalized will, it is equally as important to discuss these matters with family members and anyone else included in your will.

Talking about estate planning openly gives you an opportunity to explain to your heirs the reasons for why your will is set up the way it is, which can help prevent family legal disputes after your passing. You can also help your heirs understand the value of your inheritance in hopes they will be fiscally responsible with the inheritance they receive.

Estate Planning Tips

Here are a few simple tips on how to talk about estate planning with your loved ones and heirs:

  • Talk often about smaller, less important matters so that everyone will become more comfortable with the topic.
  • Choose the right setting for your personal family dynamics, whether it is an impromptu casual setting or a formal discussion facilitated by your estate planner.
  • Communicate the contents of your will and estate plan in a group setting, with everyone present, stating your reasoning behind the way you have set up your will.
  • Use your own judgement in discerning how much information you should disclose to your heirs, depending on their maturity level and stage of life.
  • If you have a spouse, make sure you are on the same page, and you are both involved in the conversation.
  • Anticipate questions you think your children or heirs may have, and be prepared with well thought out answers.
  • Dream big and discuss your intended legacy with your heirs. While you can’t dictate what your children or heirs will do with the inheritance you have left them after you pass, you can work to instill common goals when it comes to spending, saving, and giving, in order to pass on a legacy through generations to come.
  • Be sure to ask the heir(s) how they feel and to air any concerns they may have. Give them a chance to be heard, even if you do not intend to change your will.
  • Make it clear that your will may be an ongoing discussion because a lot can change, especially if you are still young and healthy.

Still Have Questions About Wills and Estate Planning?

If you still feel you have unanswered questions about will preparation and estate planning and you need assistance please call our Edmonton office at 1-780-437-5070 to speak with one of our Executive Benefit Strategies advisors or use our online contact form to request a free Consultation.

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