Estate Planning 101

Death is the only guarantee in life and the final resting place for an individual. However, life continues for the family, friends, and other dependents of a deceased. Therefore, preparations are necessary to avoid complications, stress and undue hardship to the loved ones around you. Here are some recommendations which may help your succession overcome these difficult times.

1) Make sure your will is current, complete, unambiguous and equitable

Make sure your will is current, complete, unambiguous and equitable to truly represent your last wishes. It is recommended to review your will with a notary, preferably in the province of Québec, as notaries are trained to foresee issues and are in a position to recommend adjustments tailored to your situation. This is even more important in cases of blended families, or when you expect that one of your heir will disagree with your wishes.

2) Review beneficiary designations

It is important to ask yourself whether your personal situation has recently changed. Are you still married? Do you still want the same people to inherit? The proper designation of beneficiary will avoid potential future conflicts and tensions between heirs. We also advice against leaving large sums of readily available money to younger heirs. As a rule of thumb, one should keep the money in trust until the beneficiary reaches the age of 25.

3) Provide all pertinent information and instructions to your succession and/or liquidator

Provide any pertinent information and instructions to your succession to avoid ambiguities and waste of time. Important information includes:

  • A memo attached to the will which includes how personal effects such as art work, jewelry and other valuables are to be allocated.
  • A document which includes relevant usernames and passwords for emails, online accounts, computers, smartphones and private safe boxes.
  • A document which includes relevant banking information such as account numbers, passwords, the locations of the branches in which you have an account, online banking accounts, etc.
  • A document which includes the names of your professional advisers and their contact information.
  • Instructions to the trustees managing money for your heirs regarding the proper use of funds available. For example, do your children want to go to university? Should they be entitled to a car when they reach the proper age? Should they drive a used car or a brand new German car?
  • Instructions to guardians concerning how you want your children raised, addressing matters such as education, diet, basic values etc…
  • Instructions regarding your funeral arrangements and other related events. It is important to relieve your family from the burden of having to decide for you whether you wanted to be buried or cremated. In addition, it is possible and recommended to prearrange and prepay funeral arrangements prior to death to relieve your family from this stress.

4) Consult professional advisors to optimize benefits and minimize tax consequences

Review registered investments and life insurance products with your lawyer and financial planner to ensure that the right people inherit the right sum at the right time while minimizing tax consequences.

5) Ascertain the needs of your dependents

It is crucial to investigate the needs of your dependents in order to allocate your assets in an equitable fashion. In addition, it is also important to ensure that your dependents have enough money for their needs while your estate is being administered. For example, are there sufficient funds after your death to pay off debts, including mortgages. Options include mortgage insurance, naming your dependents to receive life insurance proceeds directly, or ensuring they have sufficient funds in their own names or through joint accounts, to pay for education, health and maintenance of their lifestyle if needed.

6) Discuss probate fees

Discuss probate fees with a lawyer if you are opting for a holographic will, or a will before witnesses. A notarized will does not require the probate process.

For further information, please consult the Estate Liquidation Form available on our website.

If you are looking for a law firm with reasonable rates, quick and efficient turnaround time for your files and who provides personalized and effective follow-ups, call Schneider Attorneys at (514) 439-1322 ext. 112 or email us at

The above noted text should not be construed as providing legal advice or a statement of your claim. The process highlighted above are merely parameters and barometers and do not constitute any warranties and guaranties with regards to your file at hand. We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice with a licensed attorney from the Barreau du Quebec or a notary at the Chambre des Notaires. Each case must be seen and analysed on its merits as the legal process may be complex and cumbersome.

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