Life insurance plays an important role in planning your estate. An insurance policy can be used to preserve the value of your estate, support dependents and ensure that there is enough money available to pay any outstanding debts, fees or taxes upon your death.

Estate liquidity is crucial to providing living expenses to surviving family members. One of the best benefits of life insurance is that it offers tax-free money to your beneficiaries.

There are a number of reasons why you may want a life insurance policy, including:

  • To cover paying off taxes on your estate which you may owe on your death
  • • To cover paying off taxes on any illiquid assets you may have
  • To cover funeral, lawyer and Executor expenses (including possible probate fees)

Continue reading

It is no secret that Millenials are being forced to delay traditional life milestones: marriage, having kids, buying a home, etc. An unstable economy, lower salary increases and higher living costs (especially if you live in a big city), are all contributing factors to this problem. Millennials (many of whom engage in side jobs to make ends meet) often focus on on the present, rather than planning for the future.

There is still a case to be made for planning for the future — and doing so now.

The reality is, even if you have had to delay buying a home, get married or have kids, you still need to plan for your future. That does not  mean just opening and contributing to an RRSP. It is much more than that.

Estate planning is necessary for people at any age (especially for those over the age of 18) but it is particularly beneficial for people who want to climb the corporate (or career) ladder and start a family.

Continue reading

write a will

Want to know how to write your own Will?  It’s actually more straight-forward than you think.  The following items should be included when you write a Will:

  1. Your Name
  2. Your Location
  3. Listing who your Executors Will be
  4. Specifying how you want to divide up your Estate
  5. Listing your Beneficiaries
  6. Appointing Guardians if you have minor children
  7. Your Signature and Date
  8. The Signatures of your Witnesses

 

The reality is that you know you need to have one, but for various reasons, you keep putting it off. This is usually due to the following: a) a lack of money to see a lawyer b) a lack of time to see a lawyer c) it’s an uncomfortable process to think about. The last reason involves going over some hard but necessary questions to think about.  While you mull over the hard questions to think about, you may also want to consider the alternatives in having a lawyer write your Will out for you. There are a few different options for writing a Will.  One of these is a holographic Will which is a handwritten document created by you outlining where you want your assets and items to go after you have passed on. A handwritten holographic Will can be problematic for several reasons: you may not have included all of the proper items that are needed to write a Will; you may not know the basics on how to validate your Will; you may not understand the legal terminology that goes into writing a Will; and a handwritten Will can lead to disputes surrounding the authentication of your writing.

Other alternatives to write a Will can include a Will kit or online Will software. Using a Will kit, as opposed to Will software, typically involves a blank fill-in-the page Will book. It may be a generic type of one size fits all type of kit which does not address the various situations you may find yourself requiring a Last Will and Testament for. In addition, a Will kit may not be updated with laws and regulations the way online Will software can. In the event of changes to laws, you may find that you have to purchase an updated Will kit to ensure that the Will you create is properly updated.  In contrast, online Will software can be continuously updated using advanced technology.

Using online Will software or an online Will form would provide a better alternative to a generic Will kit. Will software programs can also better guide you through the process of how to make a Will by going through each online page in a clear and readable format. Basic answers to legal terminology is usually available at the click of a button. Will software can help you to write your Will by guiding you through the difficult questions about what would happen if you pass on.  For instance, who would inherit your assets? Who would be your beneficiaries? Do you want to leave any specific gifts to particular individuals? Do you want to leave charitable donations? Do you have a guardian in mind for your minor children? Speaking of which, what about leaving assets in Trust? There are many questions to ponder when it comes to creating a Last Will and Testament. Will software or online Will forms may be the best choice to go with as an alternative to a lawyer.

 

Do you ever fantasize about inheriting millions of dollars from a long-lost uncle and then retiring to a tropical paradise? That’s the fantasy but what is the reality? Assuming your long lost relative has more money than brains, what’s the craziest thing you could inherit? What if you receive something you don’t want? What do you do with it then?

 The top five list below showcases some of the weirdest items left behind in a Last Will and Testament (and alas, none of these beneficiaries presumably were able to just lie about on a sunny beach somewhere).

1. Cringeworthy

This one is a story that will make your skin crawl: in 1871, a man named Solomon Sandborn donated his body to science after his death. Sounds like a worthwhile gesture, doesn’t it? There’s a part in his Last Will that ordered his body to be skinned and made into a set of drums for his friend. The “friend” in turn, was ordered to take the drums up to Bunker Hill, Massachusetts every June 17th at dawn and drum out “Yankee Doodle Dandle.”  Solomon was apparently a patriot who wanted to celebrate the anniversary of the “Battle at Bunker Hill” posthumously.  We’re wondering how enthusiastic the “friend” was and if he ever fulfilled Solomon’s last wishes.

2. Dead Turtles

Just what in the world are you supposed to do with a family of dead turtles? That’s the question that reporter Lois Collins asked herself when she inherited a bunch of dead turtles from her late mother-in-law. Did Collins’ mother-in-law hate her in some way that she just didn’t know about? Collins’ was also told that she should take good care of the turtles so that she could pass them on to her children when they were grown. Collins is probably STILL left wondering why her mother-in-law passed on the dead reptilians to her, and is probably facing some unwanted questions about death. This bequest sure beats money, doesn’t it?

3. Creepy Red Roses

Every woman loves to get beautiful, long-stem roses from the man she loves, but some would argue that this next story is slightly creepy. A comedian by the name of Jack Benny succumbed to cancer in 1974, but not before letting the love of his life know just how much he loved her. Each day for the rest of her life after his passing she received one long red rose everyday. A seemingly romantic gesture, it may be a bit overboard, especially if his wife ever remarried. What do you think?  Creepy or romantic?

 

4. Do ghosts eat?

This is a story about a rich eccentric millionaire: obsessed with the paranormal and the afterlife after his wife and two daughters passed away, John Porter Bowman stipulated in his Last Will and Testament that a $50,000 Trust be setup after his death. The money was to look after his lavish (and empty) 21-room mansion, along with dinner to be served each night in case Bowman ever returned with his wife and daughters. We’re guessing that the ghostly trio never returned, and the dinners stopped as soon as the trust ran out.

5. The Baby “Derby”

Known as the Baby “Derby,” a race among the women of Toronto to have the most children caught the city’s attention after the death of Charles Millar (presumably another eccentric millionaire with too much time on his hands). Millar, who died in 1928, announced that the woman who gave birth to the most children after his death in the preceding 10 years, would be the winner of a good chunk of his sizable assets and estate. In 1938, the City of Toronto announced four winners: four mothers, each with nine children. The winners all received a grand total of $568,106 to be split among the four winners. A prize of $12,500 was doled out to the runner ups.

There you have it! Five of the strangest items you can find in a Last Will and Testament. You probably wouldn’t want to get any of the above listed items nor would you want to be an Executor for any of the people listed above. Think we’ll pass on these: we’re still hoping for the rich uncle to give us a fortune and sip margaritas on the beach!