Estate Planning: Best conducted early, and often

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Remember the fable about the ant and the grasshopper? The grasshopper hedonistically enjoys the summer and perishes when the winter arrives. Meanwhile, the ant works hard to prepare for winter and lives to see another thaw. There’s a reason that we’ve shared that story with kids for generations- it’s a worthy narrative. And yet, even the hardest working ants among us tend to put off one of the most important pillars of future estate planning.

Angus Reid Institute reports that 51%[1] of Canadians do not have a will. It’s an astounding number, when one considers that 66%[2] of Canadians are homeowners, and more than 50%[3][4] of Canadians are parents. We’ve got assets that we want to protect, and people that we’d like to pass them onto. So why aren’t we committing a plan to paper?

It’s never too early
When asked why they do not have a will, one quarter of the Canadians polled said they felt they were too young. Another 23% said they didn’t have enough assets to justify the legal expense of drafting the documents. But while it may seem premature to draft a will in your 20’s, the fact remains that there are some significant benefits to beginning your estate planning early. Here are three big reasons why the time to start is right now:

1) Lock in cheaper insurance rates
Insurance rates are notoriously cheaper for young, healthy candidates. In planning the future of your estate, life insurance is a critical component in protecting your beneficiaries. Locking in better premium rates now can produce significant savings over the long term.

2) Plan when asset value is low for compound benefits
Setting a plan in motion for the detailed management of your finances is easiest at the beginning, before matters become further complicated. Sitting down with a trusted business advisor, explaining your goals for the future, and allowing them to assist you in planning appropriately can set you on the right path for years to come.

3) Be the ant, not the grasshopper
Though it may feel “too early” to write your will when you’ve just recently gotten married, had a first child, or started a business, it’s actually the best time to begin. Too many of us put off writing our will until we are too ill to contemplate the process in peace, or until it’s too late altogether. Be the proverbial “ant” and start preparing today.

It’s also never too late
While getting an early start to your estate planning process is undoubtedly critical to creating a sustainable financial future, it’s also important to keep in mind that it’s not a one-time event. Estate planning is a practice that must be continually updated over time. Getting married, getting divorced, having more children, selling a business, and the death of a spouse are all life events that can significantly alter the accuracy and validity of your current will.

Further, as time goes on, the legislation changes, and key decisions such as the recent Milne Estate[5] case can change the efficacy of a previously sound strategic plan. This is where partnering with a trusted business advisor can become so valuable; ensuring that your estate planning strategy remains compliant, accurate, and valid in light of personal and procedural changes.

To learn more about Zeifmans estate planning services, contact our team today by calling 416.256.4000 or e-mail us directly at info@zeifmans.ca.

[1] BNN Bloomberg, “51% of Canadians don’t have a will in place, poll finds”, https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/51-of-canadians-don-t-have-a-will-in-place-poll-finds-1.976147

[2] Trading Economics, “Canada home ownership rate”, https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/51-of-canadians-don-t-have-a-will-in-place-poll-finds-1.976147

[3] Statistics Canada, “Mother’s Day by the numbers”, https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/dai/smr08/2017/smr08_216_2017

[4] Statistics Canada, “Father’s Day by the numbers”, https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/dai/smr08/2016/smr08_208_2016

[5] Canadian Lawyer, “Ontario case could affect estate plans across the country”, https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/author/kevin-cheung/ontario-case-could-affect-estate-plans-across-the-country-16448/