There is no such thing as a “basic” or one size fits all estate plan. However, I rarely meet a new client who doesn’t think their situation is “very simple” and all they need is a “basic will”. In my experience the majority of clients have one or more special considerations for estate planning that require a customized plan to ensure that their family and asset situation is properly addressed and planned for.
It’s not unusual during the consultation process to identify one or more unique planning considerations including but not limited to:
- Strained relationships between parents and children or between siblings;
- A disabled spouse, child or other beneficiary;
- A spouse, child or other beneficiary living with mental illness and/or addiction;
- a spendthrift family member;
- an estranged family member;
- a family member with a medical prognosis of future physical and/or mentally incapacity;
- a pending divorce or marriage;
- a growing family through birth, adoption or blending families;
- a second or third marriage or late life marriage with blended families including adult children;
- the purchase or sale of a business and/or business succession planning;
- the death of spouse, child or beneficiary; and
- a recent move to this province
Any of these circumstances require careful and custom planning to ensure that your estate plan works for you and your beneficiaries as well as to reduce the cost, time and possible disagreements that can arise once you are gone.
When life happens, review.
Even with a comprehensive estate plan, many of us fail to regularly review our plan to ensure that it continues to reflect our situation and wishes. Any significant change in the factors outlined above is a red flag to review your current plan. Other life events that trigger a review of your plan include:
- Purchase of property inside or outside the province;
- A significant change in financial situation or income;
- Unexpected illness or disability; and
- Aging – once you are 65 or older, additional tax planning options are attractive.
The passage of time is reason enough. Even if none of the above events apply to you, everyone should review their estate planning documents every 3 years.
Planning carefully and comprehensively in the first place and then keeping your estate plan updated will ensure that your family is protected and will maximize the value of your estate and minimize the complexity, time and cost to administer your estate once you are gone. It’s a good investment and the right thing to do!The information provided above is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer or address specific situations. Your personal situation should be discussed with a lawyer. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a legal professional.