Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Where there's a will, there's a way

Many Canadians will sit down and put together a will - and believe that means they're prepared in the event of the unforeseen, such as a serious illness or death. Or, they may have joint bank accounts with their spouse or partner, and believe this is everything they need to do to pass their assets to their partner. However, we often fail to remember that there are many pieces required to protect your hard-earned savings and ensure your loved ones are taken care of.

"What gives people peace of mind is knowing that their wealth is properly managed, preserved and transitioned," says Reg Swamy, Vice President, The Trust Businesses, TD Waterhouse Private Client Group. "The best way to feel this relief is to stop procrastinating and tackle the process today."

When sitting down to create - or update - your will, here are some important points to keep in mind:

• Keep it current: It's important to not only have a will - but ensure it's updated regularly (as family dynamics change, your wishes, etc.).

• Consider your legacy: Remember, a will isn't just for dictating who should inherit your assets or care for your children. Other things to think about are making contributions to charity or donating organs, as well as specifying funeral arrangements.

• Really consider your options: Take the time to carefully consider who should be the executor of your will and ensure you update it if there are any changes, such as the executor moves out of the country, or becomes ill.

• Talk about it: Have an open and honest discussion with your family and loved ones - talk about your wishes and what's most important to you now, and in the future.

"Professional advisors help families navigate the complex and emotional world of will, estate and trust planning," says Swamy. "They can help explain your choices and ensure that the documents you sign reflect your wishes, are legally valid and provide for alternate decision makers."

Whether you choose to write a will alone or with the help of a professional, begin researching and planning today. Ask yourself the tough questions, so that should the worst happen, your family and children suffer far less with a tangible and concrete outline of your wishes.

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