Sarah Chisholm, Financial Advisor
O’Farrell Wealth & Estate Planning | Assante Capital Management Ltd.
Have you noticed older relatives cleaning out their basements, or sorting through old files? It may be part of a Christmas clean, or it could be that they are preparing their affairs in case they die or become incapacitated unexpectedly. As morbid as this may sound, anyone preparing their affairs should be applauded for their efforts as they are making it much easier for their loved ones down the road.
Grab your favourite cup of tea or coffee and let’s consider a few ways to ease the transition for your executor and loved ones.
How can I prepare my investments for a smooth transition?
Take advantage of beneficiary designations. On your Tax-Free Savings Account, name your spouse as successor holder and your children, friends, or charity as the beneficiary. For your Registered Retirement Income Fund, ensure your spouse is designated as the successor annuitant or that your beneficiaries are up to date.
Non-Registered investments are accounts where growth such as interest income, dividends or realized capital gains/losses need to be reported on your annual taxes. The proceeds of your non-registered investment will be paid to your estate and go through the process of probate. Making sure your will is up to date will help ease the process. Holding your non-registered funds in a segregated fund account through a life insurance company may allow you to name beneficiaries directly on the account and by-pass the probate process.
If you hold digital assets such as crypto currencies, it is important to make sure your executor has access to your login information.
Still have some old stock certificates lying around? Bring them to your investment advisor or brokerage to get the stocks converted to the direct registration systems so that they are easier to manage.
How can I prepare my insurance policies for a smooth transition?
Depending on your stage in life you may hold a mixture of term life insurance policies, permanent whole life policies, or universal life insurance policies. The first step is to confirm which policies are still in-force and which policies have been cancelled, surrendered, or lapsed. This step will save your executor hours on the phone trying to track down old life insurance policies which may no longer exist. Once you have tracked down all your current policies, speak with your Advisor to confirm the coverage amount and the beneficiaries listed on the policy. Take the time to consider who should receive the death benefit and then work with your advisor to make those changes.
A few final tips to ensure a smooth transition: make sure your taxes are filed, update your will, and prepare a summary of your investments and insurance. It may be morbid to start thinking about it, but your loved ones will thank you for all the advance planning you did.