Estate planning is a process. It involves people—your family, partners, other individuals and in many cases charitable organizations of your choice. It also involves your assets including all the various forms of ownership and title that those assets may take. As you plan your estate, you will have to consider:
- How your assets will be managed for your benefit if you are unable to do so?
- When certain assets would be transferred to others, either during your lifetime, at your death, or sometime after your death?
- To whom those assets will pass? Should there be an equal distribution or an equitable distribution?
- Are there any charities that you wish to benefit in your estate?
- What are the income tax liabilities in my estate and what can I do to minimize this expense?
For many entrepreneurs the strategies required may include buy-sell agreements if there are multiple shareholders, family trusts during your lifetime and a will which may also include one or more trusts after your passing to hold assets for your heirs. If you have assets in multiple provinces or countries you may require multiple wills or trusts. If you live in British Columbia you will need to consider the implications of the Wills Variations Act. Some of our more philanthropic clients have chosen to establish their own private foundations.
Estate planning also addresses your welfare and puts plans into place to take care of your own personal and health care if you are no longer able to care for yourself. Estate planning is a dynamic process. Just as people, assets and laws change, it will be necessary to adjust your estate plan every so often to reflect those changes. We will be with you every step of the way to ensure your plan is current and up-to-date.