You'll Feel Great After Doing This

Tawnya Hallman |

An estate plan makes sure one's family is financially secure; it makes handling an estate easier (a thankless and arduous task for executors) and keeps more money in the pockets of designated beneficiaries, instead of paying it in taxes. Once it's done, our clients often share how good they feel about having set their family up for financial success.

Think about the importance of a plan not just for your own estate, but also for the estate of people in your life; parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles. After all, if you are an executor and/or beneficiary, ensuring they also have a solid estate plan in place is to your advantage.


What is an Estate Plan? 

An estate plan includes several things, all of which make sure your assets are distributed the way you want them to be in a tax efficient way. Listed below are the main things one should be checking on every 2-3 years. 


A Will is essential for almost any adult who owns assets including cash, investments, a home, cottage, pets, vehicle or otherwise. A Will ensures your estate pays the least amount of tax and that assets go to the people you want them to. Birth, death, marriage and divorce are common reasons a Will needs to be updated. 

One of the main reasons people delay getting a Will is cost. For simple estates, a low-cost solution like Willful, Epilogue or CanadaWills are good solutions and can be as low as $250. For more complicated estates, the cost is much higher ($1,000+), but the alternative is potentially leaving your family with much less of an inheritance or for your assets to go to unintended people.

Power of attorney for personal care & property

Like a Will, having an up-to-date Power of Attorney for both personal care (health related decision making power) and property (finance related decision making power) is critical. The alternative is potentially allowing someone you do not trust to be making decisions for you. 

Life insurance (usually a term policy)

If you have a person or people who rely on your income, like a partner who shares living expenses or children who depend on your income to survive (today and in the future), then you need life insurance. A life insurance policy should be enough to cover current and future expenses for your family. 

Term insurance is best suited to most people and the good news is that these policies are very affordable. If you already have a policy, check with Frank, who is a licensed life insurance broker.  He can make sure you have enough coverage for your current circumstances and that you're paying the best rate.  Double check that the named beneficiary(ies) are up-to-date too.

Lastly, while employers often offer life insurance as part of their benefits package, it is generally not enough coverage. Furthermore, if you leave your job, you're left without a policy. It's best to have your own life insurance policy. Consider the employer policy a bonus.

Named beneficiaries on registered accounts

Registered accounts like the FHSA, TFSA, RRSP/RRIF, LIRA/LIF, RDSP and RESP all allow the holder to name a beneficiary(ies) or a successor holder. This type of inheritance comes with tax advantages that cannot be accessed by naming someone in a Will alone.  

For the RESP, be sure you have named a successor subscriber in your Will. This ensures the account can stay open for the child/children the account was intended for.

Tax-free savings account

The TFSA is a special registered account because it has a unique estate-planning feature that other registered accounts don't have. Namely, assets can be passed on tax-free, outside of the estate. 

There are two options for this:
If there is a named beneficiary(ies), the assets in the TFSA are sold and the cash is distributed, tax-free. There are no probate taxes to pay. The distribution of these assets can happen quickly, which is another benefit. 

For a spouse named as a successor holder, the TFSA can stay invested and roll over to the spouse as the new owner. This does not affect the surviving spouse's own TFSA contribution room. Instead, they gain more tax-free investment room. This is a huge benefit, especially when income such as CPP or OAS is lost due to the loss of a spouse.

To Do List for Estate Planning

  • Check your Will and Power of Attorney's to ensure they are up-to-date and/or have them made.
  • Check the coverage, term and named beneficiary(ies) on your life insurance policy for both your personal and employer policies. 
  • Confirm all registered accounts (personal and employer plans) have up-to-date named beneficiaries and/or successor holders. 
  • For the RESP, ensure a successor subscriber is named in the Will so that contributions and government grants will be allocated to the intended beneficiaries.

Estate planning at CSR Wealth Management 

Frank uses financial planning software to project estate values, which in turn, prompts discussion about estate planning.  He guides clients to think through their estate plan not just for themselves, but for their extended family as well.  Clients can book a financial and estate planning session any time through his booking link or by emailing or calling him directly.