By Yusuf Osman, MBA
When thinking about how to handle your estate planning, figuring out where to start can sometimes feel overwhelming. Many times people avoid organizing their estate altogether because of how daunting it can seem. This is an unfortunate decision to make. If your assets and resources are left for the government to sort out, much of it will be completely wasted in the process. It can be far easier than it seems to put your plan in place and protect and manage your estate far beyond your years. Here are some simple starting points to keep in mind as you get the ball rolling for your estate plan.
Should You Trust It?
At the risk of oversimplifying, I’m going to casually suggest that there are only two viable avenues to choose from when it comes to estate planning. Either you choose to create a living trust, or you set up a last will and testament.
Option number one is to create a living trust. A revocable living trust is a way for you to distribute your assets while you are still alive, and to also retain some control of the assets for use until you are deceased. For example, you can designate a certain asset from your portfolio to be liquified, surrender it to the trust, with a directive in the trust to give a percentage to your favorite charity every year for the next number of years. At the same time, you can have a clause within the trust that permits you to utilize some of those funds as needed, if you find yourself in need of them. In fact, at any time while you are still alive, you can revoke the whole thing and do something different. This is a gross oversimplification, but it gives you the basic idea. You are in absolute control of the rules of distribution while you are alive, but once you die, the rules that you had in place are binding indefinitely. Trusts do have one extreme downside, and that is in the area of taxation. The trade-off for the control you maintain through a living trust is that the government will be taking all of its pound of flesh.
Assets transferred in or out of a trust are treated as sold property and taxed accordingly. Further, monies gained through distribution out of a living trust are subject to the highest marginal tax rate in the area of residence.
Your Will Be Done
Alternatively, instead of using a living trust, you can establish a last will and testament. A will is a fairly simple document that allows an appointed person (an executor) to have the legal authority to divide your assets precisely as you dictate. You may want to give certain assets to charity, some to children or relatives, or maybe some provisions for your favourite cat, Roxanne.
The will lays out these terms in detail and usually has broad language to include any assets that aren’t specifically named or are accidentally overlooked. The executor will then follow the dictates of the will, and distribute the estate according to your wishes. Here’s a list of reasons why you might want to use a will:
Wills are relatively easy to create. Depending on the complexity of your estate, there are boilerplate wills that you could easily put together yourself online! However, it’s probably a good idea to utilize the services of a lawyer, just to make sure you don’t overlook important details. This is especially true the more complex your estate has become.
Wills are relatively affordable. Creating a will can run anywhere between a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the complexity.
Wills are directions for after you are dead. If you want to retain all of your assets until you have breathed your last, then using this avenue allows you to do just that.
Simply put, a little forethought and planning will allow you to set things in order the way you would like through a will, without sacrificing too much of your legacy to taxation.
Ultimately, establishing an estate plan doesn’t have to be so complicated that you just throw your hands up and surrender. But if you want to make sure your last wishes are honoured regarding your estate, it’s wise to have help getting things in order. The best way to do that is not just to do what you are told, but rather to get educated on your options so you are empowered to make the best decisions. I have been working with my clients to help plan estates for many years, and education is at the very heart of my philosophy of financial advising. I would be honoured to help educate you too. To get your estate planning started, contact me today at (613) 230-5895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yusuf Osman is a Senior Investment Advisor at Argosy Securities Inc., an independent full-service financial advisory firm dedicated to helping clients create financial freedom, security, and peace of mind. With over 30 years of experience in the finance industry, Yusuf is committed to educating, engaging, and inspiring as many people as possible to take control of their finances. He spends his days developing a thorough understanding of his client’s lives, concerns, and dreams to help them build a financial plan that keeps pace with changes in both the markets and their lives. Yusuf graduated from the University of Ottawa with a bachelor’s degree in Science and earned an MBA in Finance from Queen’s University. To learn more about Yusuf and his Dynamic Wealth Program for Women, go to https://www.argosy-osman.com/women or connect with him on LinkedIn.
This Estate Planning material shall not be construed as a solicitation or an offer / tax advice. Before making any investment decision, contact your investment advisor to discuss your investment needs.
The information contained in this report has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable. However, its accuracy or completeness is not guaranteed, and Argosy Securities assumes no responsibility or liability. Argosy, its directors, officers and other employees may hold positions in the securities mentioned herein.