Be kind to those you’ll leave behind

Estate Planning

Dianne St. Jean

The CIBC in Valemount hosted an Estate Planning seminar last Thursday evening, Oct. 4. The presenters were Chris Uri and Mark Collins, Investment Advisors for Wood Gundy.

Almost fifty people registered for the event, a good indication perhaps of an increasing awareness of the importance of planning ahead.

Despite the fact that we know that one day we will no longer be here, a surprising few actually plan ahead for that one event that is certain. In fact, only about half of Canadians either have a will or some sort of plan put in place should they unexpectedly pass or become incapacitated, and many are not aware of the difficulties that those left behind to deal with those issues will have to face.

The presentation was simple and easy to understand. Presenters Uri and Collins took questions during and after the session.

Discussions included simplifying your estate administration, which will save time and money and keep benefits from being eaten up by lawyers’ fees. Estate planning can also minimize tax (yes – even after you’re dead and gone – you still have to pay the government its share – albeit through your estate), as well as protecting your assets.


CIBC provided an excellent workshop on Estate Planning on Oct. 4. The event was held at the Legion Hall.
CIBC provided an excellent workshop on Estate Planning on Oct. 4. The event was held at the Legion Hall.

Did you know?

Did you know that all income – wages, interest, dividends, pensions, as well as income accrued but not received up to the date of death - are taxable at death? Although there is no death tax in Canada as yet (although the current government is working on it) taxes apply toward any capital gains.

Did you know that anyone 16 years of age plus, who is of competent mental capacity, can make a will?

Did you know that if you leave no will, in BC the first $300,000 goes to the spouse, with the rest split 50/50 to any children. Only if there are no children does everything go to the spouse. And by the way, grown, dependent children qualify – not just minors or dependents.

Did you know that you cannot simply ‘disinherit’ even an adult child? Wanting to leave out an adult child from your will requires legitimate cause and burden of proof of that cause. There are, however, other recourses. That is why the presenters stressed the importance of not only having a will, but also having it done correctly.

Did you know that you can, and perhaps even should, have more than one will, if for example, you own a business? 

Making a will

Uri and Collins underlined the necessity for having a proper will made up. Although scratching out our desires on a piece of paper may be considered as a legal will, making up your own will, including using a ‘will kit’ still poses easy challenges should there be any disputes when settling an estate – disputes that can eat up benefits, let alone take up time. The presenters commented that they know of a challenged estate that finally has been settled after seven years. So, it is strongly advised to have a will made up through a lawyer. A good point they made is, many people use a will kit or make up their own to save money they would have paid to a lawyer – but many of these end up costing far much more in the long run.

Common mistakes

According to CIBC Bank Manager Allen Reale, there are three common yet easily avoidable mistakes people make with wills. First is underestimating everything that is involved with administrating an estate; second, choosing the wrong estate representative or executor; and third, preparing a will, then forgetting about it.

All three can result in delays or the will being challenged, or creating confusion or causing old resentments and disputes to resurface, all or some of which can result in frustration and ruination of relationships, let alone the loss of money or assets.

Not just in death 

The presentation not only discussed preparing for our time of death, but also situations that may arise while we are still alive and need someone else to step in to make important decisions on our behalf. This is not restricted to our being incapacitated physically or mentally from handling our affairs, it could even be something as simple as being out of the country and needing someone to step in on our behalf.

These alternatives include various types of trusts and/or powers of attorney that can be enacted while you are still alive as well as upon death.