6 Estate Planning Strategies to Save Your Assets

When we hear the words “estate planning”, many of us immediately think of creating a will. While a will is a vital part of estate planning, there are other strategies you should implement to ensure that your assets are safely distributed according to your wishes.

Here are 6 estate planning strategies to save your assets.

 

1. List All of Your Assets

While property and heirlooms may come to mind when speaking of assets, many others are overlooked during estate planning. A simple activity suggested by investment specialist Sim Gakhar would be to take a pen and paper and an hour to think through and list all of the tangible and non-tangible assets you need to consider in your estate plan.

 

Tangible Assets

Tangible assets are physical items and investment accounts that you own. Tangible assets you may want to include in your estate plan include:

  • Land/property
  • Inventory
  • Vehicles
  • Heirlooms
  • Stocks, bonds, cash, or other securities
  • Furniture
  • Any other possession you would like passed down to a specific heir

 

Non-Tangible Assets

Non-tangible assets are non-physical, often intellectual property. They may include:

  • Trademarks
  • Franchises
  • Copyrights
  • Patents
  • Goodwill (a term used when including a company in an estate plan)

 

2. List All of Your Debts

Most people will leave behind some form of debt, whether that be on a mortgage, credit card, or auto loan. Write up a clear list that includes what you owe, to whom, and the creditor’s contact information.

This information will help you close out your accounts or transfer them once you pass. Help your loved ones avoid a headache and any late or overcharge fees by leaving your debts clearly laid out.

 

3. Review Your Accounts

The average North-American person has over 100 online accounts requiring a password. While you won’t need to worry about many of these accounts when it comes to estate planning, there are some major accounts, subscriptions, and memberships that Sim Gakhar suggests you review while preparing your estate.

 

Memberships

You may belong to organizations such as an alumni group, professional accreditation association, or CARP. Some of these memberships may include limited life insurance benefits for which you must appoint beneficiaries.

Review all of your memberships and take note of any that offer post-death benefits to beneficiaries.

If you are an active donor to any particular causes, you may also want to include this in your will and estate planning.

 

Investments

Investments are one of the key components of estate planning. These may include savings, CD, and brokerage accounts. Some individuals may even have online accounts for cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

Many of these accounts allow the account holder to designate beneficiaries. Make sure the beneficiary you designate on your account is the same one you list for the account on your will.

 

Retirement Accounts

Over the years you may have acquired multiple RRSPs or TFSA retirement accounts. To lower your costs, increase your selection of investments, and streamline the management of your retirement, consider consolidating all of your retirement accounts into one.

This may also make it easier for your heirs to collect any retirements savings should you pass away prematurely.

 

4. Draft a Will

Once you have completed the previous three strategies, it’s time to draft a will. By having all of your tangible and non-tangible possessions, debts, and accounts listed out, you’ll be sure not to miss anything major when it comes to distributing your assets.

Your will may also mention things like your designated Power of Attorney or Healthcare Proxy should you become incapacitated. If so, make sure you have the official paperwork that goes along with these to avoid any legality issues.

 

5. Select an Estate Representative

An estate representative is responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will. You can name an estate representative directly in your will, and it will be their choice to accept this responsibility or not.

Your estate representative may:

  • Pay estate fees
  • Make your funeral arrangements
  • Locate and notify your beneficiaries
  • Notify your creditors of your death
  • Divide your estate as outlined

 

6. Consult a Professional

You may spend hours cleaning your home and think you did a comprehensive job, but a professional cleaning company can still come in and find something you missed. An estate professional is no different when it comes to finding oversights in your estate planning.

Sim Gakhar is an experienced investment and insurance agent who can help you review your estate plan to find any flaws or oversights. She has experience in identifying and responding to future healthcare needs of clients, protecting their estates from large tax bills or long-winded court processes.

Consult with an estate attorney or an investment professional like Sim Gakhar to revisit and revise your estate plan today.

 

Additional Tips

Estate planning takes time and consideration. Consulting with a professional is key, so investment professional Sim Gakhar has left us with some bonus tips to consider while going through each of these estate planning strategies.

 

Make Copies

One copy of your will stuffed in a nightstand can be easily misplaced or overlooked. Make copies of all of your important documents and file them in at least two secure locations. If something were to happen on your property, such as a fire or natural disaster, you want to make sure additional copies of your important documents can be found elsewhere.

 

Review Annually

Warren Buffet reviews his will every five years or so, but Sim Gakhar recommends taking it a step further by reviewing your important policies and documents annually. You may not need to revise your will as often, but things such as life insurance policies or investment accounts may change depending on the fiscal year.

Take a day out of the year and go through your accounts to make sure everything is in order. If there are any major changes, then would be a good time to adjust your estate plan accordingly.

 

Notify Involved Parties

While it isn’t important to disclose the details of your estate plan to others, you do want to notify your selected beneficiaries and estate representative. This will ensure that the individuals stay on top of things after your death, especially the estate representative who will have to accept the responsibility of adhering to your last wishes.

 

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