The Ontario Estate Planning Timeline: Walking You Through the Process
There’s no doubt about it. Estate planning in Ontario can seem overwhelming. It feels like there’s so much to do, so little time, and — let’s be honest — thinking about your passing isn’t always top of the to-do list.
But getting started (and getting it done!) minimizes your stress and protects your loved ones in the event something happens.
But where do you start? And how long does this all take? This article will walk you through the top estate planning tips, ensuring you completely understand the estate planning timeline in Ontario.
What Is the Estate Planning Process in Ontario?
The first step of understanding the estate planning timeline is knowing what goes into estate planning.
Estate planning is going through the tasks that help to deal with your assets in the event of your passing. This ensures that the loss is easier on your loved ones and your final wishes are executed in a way you would want.
Your estate plan typically includes a few different documents, including your Will. This outlines where your assets go — including property, money, and pets, to name a few things.
Having this in place is an important way to ease your loved ones’ pain in the event of your passing. And if you have any assets, it’s likely time to get started on your estate planning process and Will.
Is Estate Planning and a Will the Same?
Short answer, no.
Longer answer, a Will is just one part of your estate planning. It’s an important part, nonetheless, but it’s not the only thing you should be thinking about. Your Will is what outlines your final wishes — what assets go to who, who cares for children (in the case of children under the age of 18), or any charitable donations, for example.
Some of the other important parts of estate planning include:
Assign an Executor
This is technically a part of your Will, but assigning an executor is extremely important. The executor ensures that your estate is administered the way you wanted it to be, so you want to choose somebody you trust.
Suggested reading: Who Can be Your Executor
Making a decision about life insurance is another important part of the estate planning process, because the right policy will directly impact your loved ones after your passing. Life insurance is a tax-free lump sum payment, paid out to your decided beneficiaries.
Suggested reading: Types of Life Insurance Policies
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives somebody the right to make choices for you, in the event that you are unable to. In Ontario, there is one power of attorney for financial matters and another for healthcare decisions. Given how large a responsibility this is, you want to appoint somebody you trust to this role — and make sure they are aware.
Preferences for Final Arrangements
Technically, this isn’t a legally binding document, but outlining preferences for your final arrangements is an important step of estate planning in Ontario. You can create a document or let your loved ones know, but having a plan to give to your loved ones can help ease the grieving process. Let your loved ones focus on healing and not second guessing their decisions on what you would have wanted.
Suggested reading:How to Plan Your Dream Funeral
The Five Key Steps for Estate Planning in Ontario
Now that you know what estate planning is and the major items that make up your estate, let’s dive into the estate planning tips. These are the five things you want to do to get planning:
1. Make an Inventory of What You Have
Step one of estate planning is ensuring you know what you’re working with. What do you actually need to divide up? Having a basic inventory of your assets will fuel your other efforts.
2. Speak to Your Loved Ones
Talk to your loved ones about your thoughts, especially major decisions like assigning power of attorney or guardianship. These conversations will prevent major surprises in the future.
Suggested reading:How to Talk to Your Loved Ones About Wills
3. Create Your Last Will and Testament
Once you know what you have to divide up and have had those conversations with loved ones, it’s time to make your legal Will. It can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Online options, like Epilogue Wills, mean you can create a legally binding Will in 20 minutes or less.
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4. Work on Any Other Outstanding Documents for Your Estate
This is where you work on the other parts of your estate, mentioned above. These include:
Life insurance and beneficiaries
Assigning power of attorney
5. Revisit Your Estate Plan Regularly
The number one Ontario estate planning tip after you’ve made your Will? Revisit. Because really – what good is a Will from 20 years ago?
As your life changes (as you have children or grandchildren, buy a new property, accumulate assets, get a pet, etc.), the plan for your estate should too.
🙌 With Epilogue, you can update your Will as many times as you wish completely free of charge.
Remember, estate planning may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. If you follow these five estate planning tips, you’ll have a plan — and peace of mind — in no time.