Leaving a legacy through your estate is a process that benefits you, your loved ones and causes that are important to you. Without an estate plan your legacy can needlessly cause emotional and financial stress to a surviving spouse, children or parents, family business, other beneficiaries, your favourite charity and others.
The primary focus of estate planning is to transfer your wealth in a simple and tax-efficient manner, and in accordance with your desires. An effective estate plan can minimize tax after death, as well as increase benefits to your surviving family members over the long term. Estate planning also provides some powerful tax and financial benefits that can be realized during your lifetime as well.
Generally the three primary documents for your estate plan are a professionally drafted Will, an Enduring Power of Attorney, and Health Care Directive (Living Will/Power of Attorney for personal care). Your Will is the cornerstone of the estate plan and it will bring together other aspects of your integrated Life Aligned® financial plans.
The activities we undertake during the estate planning process will depend in part where you are in your estate lifecycle.
Stage 1 – Creating the Estate: For younger clients, estate planning considerations include managing income and expenses and making wise investments now, to increase wealth and therefore the value of your estate. At this stage it is important that spouses and young dependents are cared for in the event of death. Long-term planning is carefully balanced with the shorter-term objective of providing for and protecting family now.
Stage 2 – Preserving and Conserving the Estate: Clients in mid-life want to manage their assets to ensure continued growth to generate income while also protecting those assets from investment and business risks, including inflation, and potential health issues.
Stage 3 – Transferring the Estate: Later in life, estate planning concerns tend to revolve around how and when to dispose of assets in order to maximize your legacy and minimize tax. Different situations will determine whether it is most effective to make dispositions through your Will, or through gifts or sales of assets prior to death. At this stage, we will also ensure your estate has the necessary cash available to meet the expenses and tax obligations that occur as a result of the transfer of assets after death.
Through the Fraser & Partners estate planning and review process we work with you to keep your Will current and congruent with your overall estate and financial plans. We will also help you to establish an Inter Vivos Trust or education savings plan, reorganize property ownership, make charitable contributions, adjust insurance coverage to provide for dependents or business partners, restructure investment portfolios, effect an estate freeze, guide the preparation of powers of attorney, and much more.