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Estate Planning 101

Highlights From Epilogue’s Reddit AMA

Epilogue's Co-Founders took to the r/PersonalFinanceCanada subreddit to answer everyone's burning questions about estate planning.

For most people, estate planning can seem scary and impossibly complicated. Conversations about money and death are already tricky, and adding in legal terms and details makes it an anxiety-inducing topic. As a result, many Canadians have unanswered questions about how estate planning actually works.

Epilogue is committed to making estate planning simple and accessible for Canadians. To help demystify the topic, Epilogue’s Founders Daniel Goldgut and Arin Klug took to the r/PersonalFinanceCanada forum on Reddit to host an AMA (Ask Me Anything) to share helpful legal information and answer some big questions.

Read on for highlights from the thread…

When is the best time to make a Will?

According to CAGP, only 34% of people aged 35 to 50 have a Will. Young people often put off making a Will because they feel there’s no urgency or that they don’t have enough assets to justify one. But no matter what life stage or how much you have, a Will gives you security and peace of mind.

Let your executor know where your Will is kept

While it is possible to register a Will with your province, most do not require this for a Will to be valid. The only way to guarantee that your loved ones know that you have a Will is to have a conversation about it.

No matter what it is written on, a handwritten Will, or a Holographic Will, can be considered legitimate in most provinces as long as it contains all the appropriate information and is signed correctly. However, this isn’t recommended as someone is likely to miss important information (or add too much information), unless they are an experienced estate lawyer.

The cost of a Will varies from hundreds to thousands

How much a Will costs varies depending on many factors. Lawyer-drafter Wills usually start around $500 and can cost up to thousands of dollars for more complicated situations.

Online Will options are generally priced in the low hundreds and are a great option for anyone with basic needs (like the one described in the comment below.) With Epilogue, a couple can get Wills and Incapacity Documents for $289 + tax [Update: As of May 1, 2023, this price is $329 + tax].

There are other costs associated with death to consider

When a person dies, all of their outstanding debts and expenses come off the top of the estate before it is distributed to beneficiaries. This includes paying for funeral costs, probate fees, covering the deceased’s debts, and filing their final income tax return.

If you die without a Will, the province decides who gets your stuff

If someone dies without a Will, their assets are distributed according to the laws in the province they live in. Spouses will often inherit all of your assets, but without a spouse or in the case of common-law relationships, what happens can vary from place to place.

What to do if you have a beneficiary in another country

If you want to include beneficiaries who live in a different country, there can be some complicated tax situations as a result. You should speak to a lawyer on how best to navigate this situation.

Overall, it was a productive discussion and well received!

We were especially honoured to get a glowing review from a BC-based lawyer!

Want more Reddit?

Explore the entire Reddit thread here!

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Epilogue is not a law firm and does not provide any legal advice.