Although contemplating death may seem unpleasant, the consequences of failing to plan for it can be significant. Whether you have specific wishes concerning family heirlooms, wish to spare loved ones unnecessary stress, or want to minimize expenses related to probate and taxes, estate planning is essential.
It may seem daunting, but estate planning is less confusing than you think. Our real estate lawyers in St. Catharines explain.
Estate Planning in Ontario: Everything You Need to Get Started
What Is Estate Planning?
Have you ever thought about what will happen to your assets after you pass away? Estate planning is the process of arranging the transfer of your assets after you die. It can be a complex process but ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes is essential.
It can include making a will, choosing an executor, setting up trusts, and deciding on beneficiaries. At its core, the goal of estate planning is to ensure that your assets are transferred to your loved ones according to your wishes.
Making a Will
A will is a legal document that outlines how your assets will be distributed after you die. It is essential to have a will, regardless of the size of your estate. Without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy, which may not be in line with your wishes. To prevent the will from being challenged after your death (and prevent conflicts between multiple wills), you should speak to real estate lawyers in St. Catharines.
Choosing an Estate Trustee
The estate trustee is responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will. They will be responsible for paying any debts and taxes owed by your estate and distributing your assets to your beneficiaries. It is essential to choose someone you trust to be your trustee. Again, it can be someone you trust, such as your real estate attorney or another family member.
Deciding on Beneficiaries
A beneficiary is a person or organization that will receive your assets after you die. It is essential to choose your beneficiaries carefully and update your beneficiary designations regularly. If you do not update your beneficiary designations, your assets may be distributed to someone you no longer wish to receive them.
Estate planning also involves tax planning. In Ontario, there is a probate fee of 1.5% of the value of your estate. However, some assets, such as life insurance proceeds and RRSPs, are exempt from probate fees. There are also ways to minimize estate taxes, such as setting up trusts and making charitable donations.
Getting Help From Real Estate Lawyers in St. Catharines
Estate planning can be a complex process, and it is essential to get legal help to ensure that your wishes are carried out. Estate lawyers can help you draft a will, set up trusts, and make sure that your estate plan is up to date.
Are Your Affairs in Order?
It may seem morbid to think about how your estate will be distributed after your death, but it’s essential. Don’t plan today, and your property may be distributed in a manner you never wanted.
At Lancaster Chown & Welch LLP, we have been trusted real estate attorneys for over 140 years. Speak to our estate lawyers today to plan out your estate.