In recent years, an aging population and the rise of non-traditional marriages have become issues that are increasingly relevant to estate planning considerations in Canada. As society shifts over time, it is important that estate planning methods and strategies are capable of adaptation to suit changing needs.
When discussing estate planning, we often focus on the more complex details, such as how to reduce tax liability for your estate, or whether to make use of multiple wills. However, before moving on to these more complicated topics, it is vital to start from the beginning and consider the basics as a first step in estate planning.
Due to recent technological advancements, one's digital presence has become an important part of every day life. As a result, it is increasingly important to consider how this may impact traditional estate planning. With increasing frequency, individuals are creating complex lives online, which may include a social media presence, electronic banking, reward point balances, online investments, and many other possibilities.
According to Statistics Canada, the "sandwich generation" now includes more than two million Canadians -- or 28 per cent of all caregivers in Canada -- with the majority being women between 35 and 44 years old. This number is only expected to rise as Canada's population ages and the older generation is no longer capable of caring for themselves. That leaves us with a generation stuck with caring for their late-leaving adult children and their ailing parents at the same time. How do they cope?
It is deeply hurtful to even remotely consider that someone from your most trusted group of allies could be intending to take advantage of you when you are most vulnerable, but avoiding this issue only leaves you more vulnerable. Your best line of defence is to increase your awareness on some of the more typical financial threats.
The individual who is ultimately selected will be charged with administering your estate upon your death and, as a result, it is crucial that he or she is not only capable of doing so, but that the person selected is someone whom you can trust to uphold your final wishes to the best of his or her abilities.
Every year, thousands of consumers create their own wills, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents using kits which are available either on the internet or in retail locations. With a more sophisticated population and increasing numbers of people on the internet, there has been a proliferation of products available in recent years.
The challenge we face is, in the context of this unprecedented shift of multi-generational wealth, the trust industry -- those charged with stewarding this process -- has largely lost the public's confidence. Now more than ever, our aging population needs dedicated independent trust companies that are focused on helping families through difficult points in their lives, but we need to put the trust back in the industry.
People have always sought out new and innovative ways to reduce or avoid taxes. In estate planning, some of the more traditional methods have included designating a beneficiary directly in an insurance policy or naming a joint account holder with a right of survivorship. Multiple wills are another effective technique and as a result, have become increasingly popular over the last decade.
One of the more commonly used estate planning tools to avoid or reduce Estate Administration Tax is joint ownership or a joint bank account. When two people own an asset jointly, and one owner dies, the remaining joint owner takes ownership of the entire asset by right of survivorship, thus causing the asset to pass entirely outside of the estate of the deceased person.