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Why it pays to invest in will and estate planning

Home // Wills and Estates Law // Estate Planning

Let’s start with some basic assumptions on wills, estates and trusts:

Alberta will & estates law lawyers for estate planning, will preparation, will and testament, probate lawyer legal services

Which of these family members should get wills and estates planning first? The younger couple on the left with two children or the older couple with a significant estate? Answer: both.

  • You care about what happens to your assets following your death
  • You want your entire estate to go to your beneficiaries as quickly as possible
  • You want to maximize the value of your estate by minimizing taxes and legal fees
  • You need to know more about key elements of estate planning, such as probate
  • You accept that all of the above cannot be achieved with the help of an expert in Estate Planning

Key steps in the will and estate planning process

Step #1 – What are you worth? You might be surprised by the number of people who don’t really know how much they are worth. "We lead such busy lives that it’s easy to miscalculate the value of an asset or forget about it entirely,” says Will & Estate lawyer Andrew Geisterfer. The review and documentation of assets needs to include not only financial savings and real estate, but also retirement savings and business assets.

Step #2 – Think about the children: If you have children, you need to think about who will care for them following your death. Then you need to speak with the guardian to ensure they are prepared to take on the life altering responsibility of taking care of a child. "If you need just one reason to have an estate plan, this is it,” Andrew says.

Step #3 – Asset Protection: Any review of your assets needs to include an assessment of what will happen to those assets following your death. If some or all of those assets will be drained away by taxes and legal fees, it makes sense to take steps that will minimize those costs. You may also want to take steps to shield your estate from creditors and legal actions. "Proper planning is a must to maximize the value of your estate,” Andrew says.

Step #4 – Who will be the Beneficiaries: Remove all doubt about your intentions by documenting who gets what.

Step #5 – Create Living Wills: You never know when an accident or illness will leave you incapacitated. That’s why it is so important to designate who will take care of your healthcare and financial affairs until you get better. This is known legally as a Living Will or Power of Attorney. You can have one for healthcare and another for financial matters. Make sure each designate is aware of your intentions and is willing to accept this important responsibility.

Step #6 – Regular Reviews: It’s important to review your Estate Plan at regular intervals to ensure that it still makes sense. Changes may be necessary because your personal relationships have changed. You may also need to make alterations to take into account changes in your financial circumstances.

Legal Scenario

Leaking basement

"I moved into my new home in early January and at that time there appeared to be no issues with my basement. However, when the usual spring thaw came in April I noticed that my basement was leaking. What should I do?"

What Would Andrew Recommend?

This scenario highlights the importance of having a property inspection done before you sign a deal. A property inspector is trained to see thing you don’t see. For example, in the winter, when everything is frozen, you are not going to see any water accumulation in your basement and you may therefore assume it is dry. A trained and experience home inspector will look for stains on a wall or other indicators that there was a leak during the summer months. It’s even better if you also have the sellers expressly warrant that the property has never been subject to flooding and they are not aware of any flooding issues with the home. That way you have a legal recourse if it turns out that they were not being honest.

Meet Andrew Geisterfer Edmonton Real Estate Lawyer

Andrew Geisterfer

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