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Wills and Estate Planning                            Estate Planning Guide   Selecting the Right Executor

Organizing Your Estate

Planning and organizing estate affairs isn't something that only the wealthy need to consider.  Everyone should have some sort of estate plan in place to ensure their financial matters are resolved quickly and expediently, and their family and loved ones lose as little as possible to taxation.  Money is not the only thing to consider – putting a plan in place for your loved ones will ensure your future wishes are put into place and your loved ones are taken care of. 


The Importance of a Will

The most important part of estate planning is ensuring that you have a valid, up-to-date will. If you die without a will, the government will distribute your estate in accordance with provincial law.  Only a will can ensure your wishes are fulfilled.


Your will must include an appointed executor - an executor is responsible for the protection, evaluation, administration and distribution of the Estate and is personally liable for any errors, whether intentional or not.  The role of an executor can be complicated and time consuming.  Although many people ask a friend or family member to be their executor, your estate may be better served by an impartial expert in estate administration, such as a Professional Trustee.


A Professional Trustee will administer your estate and ensure your wishes are carried out as indicated in your will or other legal documents. You may appoint a professional trustee as the sole executor or as a joint executor along with a family member or friend.

Executor responsibilities may include:

  • Locating the will and submitting it for probate

  • Making funeral arrangements

  • Gathering and documenting your assets

  • Preparing a list of liabilities and arranging payment of debts

  • Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries

  • Preparing and filing income tax returns

  • Investing, managing and distributing funds held in ongoing trusts


Other items in your will may include the distribution of estate assets and personal affects, named guardian for your child(ren), and funeral arrangements.  The best and safest way to create a will is to work with an expert, as many do-it-yourself will packages can leave details open to legal interpretation.


Your will should be updated periodically and in consultation with your professional advisor, especially as you acquire new assets.  You should also update your will if you have a new child.  You should also be aware that if you marry, your existing will becomes invalid.


Enduring Power of Attorney 

An enduring power of attorney is a document which allows one person to grant authority to another person to manage their financial affairs, should they not be capable.  It ceases upon the revocation or death of the grantor.  Edam Credit Union will ONLY accept lawyer drawn power of attorney documents.


Joint Bank Accounts 

In some cases, joint accounts may be considered as an option for someone to get help from family members or friends to pay bills and manage their finances.  For example, health conditions or mobility issues could make it difficult for someone to manage their personal banking on their own. Getting to the bank or using online banking services can be difficult for some people. A person may consider setting up a joint account with a family member, such as an adult child, after the death of a spouse who used to deal with the household finances.  Although this option may have its conveniences, there are many risks associated that should be taken into consideration.   


What every older Canadian should know about Powers of Attorney and Joint Bank Accounts



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