Help your parents secure their legacy

Is it time to have the talk with your parents?

Do you remember when your parents sat you down for the talk? Back then, it likely included some anxious moments and uncomfortable feelings.

It could be time to think about another talk, but this time you’d be initiating a conversation your parents may have Talk to Parents About Legacy & Fiancesbeen avoiding – about how they want their final wishes carried out.

It’s time to have the talk

Here are a few suggestions when it comes to discussing their legacy:

1. Take advantage of the time you have. You’re on the right track by helping your parents think about this now as opposed to reacting in the moment. Taking the time now helps your parents put the right plans in place to protect what matters most to them.

2. Get organized and help ensure your parents’ wishes are maintained. Help your parents understand the value of getting organized early on so their wishes are understood and carried out according to plan.

You’re on the right track by starting to think about this now, as opposed to reacting in the moment.

3. Ensure they choose someone as their power of attorney. Encourage your parents not to wait too long to select their power of attorney. A lot of important decisions may end up in this person’s hands, and the more time they have to understand your parents’ preferences, the better.

Things to consider

Figuring out your parents’ wishes can take time. When you’re having the talk, it’s important to keep in mind how you can work with a financial security advisor to help protect their estate. Some things to think about when developing a plan are how to help:

  • Protect your parents’ investments from market downturns.
  • Avoid unnecessary legal, estate administration fees.
  • Ensure their money goes directly to the people and/or cause(s) they have chosen.

Work with a financial security advisor to include an Estate Protection policy on their financial security plan. It combines potential growth with protection for the beneficiaries of the policy to help make sure the estate is secured.

What should we talk about?

Start with the basics and learn about:

  • Your parents’ sources of income
  • Any mortgage balance outstanding and types of insurance they have
  • Their medical history
  • The name of and contact information for their advisor (if they don’t have one, ask about how they’ve been making financial decisions)
  • Whether they have a documented will, living will and power of attorney
  • How they would like their money allocated (i.e., to family, friends, charity or a combination of these)

While you’re helping your parents develop a plan, encourage them to provide their banking information to their power of attorney.

I can help your parents ensure their wishes are carried out. Whether you’re having the talk for the first time or revisiting the subject, you can feel a sense of relief and security knowing you’re helping them carry out their final wishes.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

You spend a lifetime growing your estate so you can leave a lasting legacy to your loved ones. It’s important to complete a will that details what this legacy will look like.

Dying without a will means others will be making key financial decisions about your property that may not represent your wishes. This can also result in increased costs and the time it will take to divide your assets. A better solution is to create a will – the legal document that outlines the assets your loved ones will receive. Although this can be a complicated process, working with professionals (such as lawyers or notaries in Quebec accountants or financial advisors) can help to lower your estate’s taxes and outline exactly how you would like to divide your assets.

Why hire a professional?

Do-it-yourself will kits may seem like a bargain, but the risks can outweigh the benefits. Issues that seem minor, such as the wrong choice of wording, or a failure to adhere to exact legal processes, can derail the best-laid plans. And, the slightest error can result in legal challenges.

Hiring an experienced lawyer or notary for your estate planning doesn’t have to cost a lot and is a worthwhile investment in your estate’s legacy.* You can ask a trusted lawyer, friend or financial advisor for a referral, or you can contact a provincial law society – most have a referral service, which also provides a free 30-minute consultation to help you choose the right lawyer or notary for your situation. These professionals have the expertise to create a will that helps assure your wishes are carried out in a way that can reduce taxes at death and beyond to help support future generations. A financial security advisor can assist you in choosing products to help you reach your financial goals while living and help ensure the loved ones you choose receive these assets after death.

* Fees will vary based on the complexity of estate settlement.

Making a will doesn’t have to be scary or expensive.

Making it easier for your loved ones

Here are some simple steps to help make the probate (estate administration) process (where applicable) less stressful:

  • Create an itemized list of your assets and debts.
  • Create a will that details who will receive your assets, along with other instructions about how you’d Estate Planning & Willslike your estate to be divided.
  • Choose your executor (liquidator in Quebec) and make sure they know where the original copy of your will is located, as well as other important documents (such as a list of your financial accounts, any deeds and any benefits for those who are eligible), along with instructions about who to contact to access them.
  • Consider purchasing a life insurance policy that can give your executor access to cash to pay for end-of-life expenses, such as a funeral or hiring a lawyer or notary.
  • Update your will if your financial or personal situation changes.

Things to consider before making your will

  • A will may not include joint assets such as bank accounts or a house. If joint assets are held with someone other than your spouse, ask your lawyer about a suitable way for you to transfer ownership.
  • Life insurance and registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) assets are typically not included in a will since they have a named beneficiary other than the estate (this process is different in Quebec if the RRSP is not issued by an insurer). Also, by naming a beneficiary, the death benefit proceeds are paid directly to the beneficiary and do not pass through the estate.
  • Executors can hire lawyers and other experts as needed and bill the estate directly. Executors may also charge fees for their services. The executors are also responsible for paying outstanding debts and expenses, such as real estate commissions on sold properties, so it is important to choose one you trust – typically a family member or close friend.
  • Courts may charge probate fees, if any, determined by province, to confirm the will and its executor. You can work with a tax and/or legal advisor to lower the value of the estate and its taxes by transferring ownership of an asset, adding a joint ownership ahead of time, or by giving out your gifts prior to death. Keep in mind; this may incur tax consequences for the recipient.
  • This is also the time to consider making charitable donations to causes and organizations that are important to you. Legacy giving is vital to sustain some charities, especially those doing specialized work that doesn’t gain widespread public support.
  • Do you have children? If your children are under 18 or 19 (depending on the province you live in), you should name guardians (or a tutor in Quebec) in the event both parents pass away. If you’re separated, you can name a guardian who can make financial decisions on a minor’s behalf (not applicable in Quebec).

Everyone’s situation is different but creating a will helps you to shape your legacy and decide how your assets can best support the people and causes that matter to you.