You probably wouldn’t plan a road trip and then not check the traffic before leaving. Or you wouldn’t plan an outdoor event and then not check the weather the night before.
Why? Because if things go sideways, you give yourself time to revise your plan.
The same holds true for your estate plan. If you have one, that doesn’t mean your work is done. It’s not something you can set aside and forget about.
Review, review, review
“Life”, as John Lennon observed in the song Beautiful Boy, “is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” What made sense to you last year, might not make sense to you today. Decide on a schedule that’s appropriate—at least once every 2 to 3 years is the general recommendation—and ask yourself the following.
Are my executor and plans still appropriate?
Your executor should be someone—preferably with sound judgement and financial management experience—you believe will faithfully work to implement your will. Sometimes this might be a family member or friend, sometimes a trust company or lawyer. If you have concerns about your executor, it might be time to make a switch.
A major life event—such as divorce, marriage, the birth of a child, or sudden change in financial status—can impact the elements in your estate plan. What’s more, estate-planning laws aren't identical across the country. If your personal situation has changed or you’ve moved provinces, your plan may need to change, too.
Is my will ready for probate?
When you die your will goes through probate. In other words, it’s reviewed to ensure it’s valid and authentic. Your assets are collected, outstanding bills paid, and then your assets are distributed to beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes.
Making sure your will and estate plan are properly structured so that your wealth passes to your heirs as tax-efficiently and seamlessly as possible will help minimize what’ll already be a stressful time for them.
Are my beneficiaries still who they should be?
Those you want to provide for after you’re gone give purpose to and guide your estate plan. It’s important to ensure the instructions in your will reflect current realities and your truest wishes.
If it’s been a while since you updated your beneficiaries, consider how your family has changed. Have marriages and births expanded your family? Have deaths and divorces occurred? Have dynamics and needs changed as your family has aged and evolved? If so, there’s a good chance your beneficiary designations will need updating.
We’re here to help
A professionally constructed will and estate plan should be able to accommodate life’s little changes. And if something more significant has happened, a simple update might be all that’s required. But you won’t know until you take the time to ask the questions outlined above.
Whether you need to create an estate plan or just want to review the one you have in place, we have access to the expertise required to do it right. Reach out to us with any questions.