This is probably a scenario you have come across before: a couple put off planning their estate when their children were young, thinking there would be lot of time later on. The couple is now nearing their twilight years and still have nothing in writing. This is apparently common for many couples: wealthy or not, planning for one’s estate is a process many put off . If you have (or feel) that you have nothing in the way off assets,  why bother going through (what is purportedly a long-drawn out process of estate planning) if you have little in your name? Even the very words, estate planning, sounds complex, nebulous, almost mysterious. Much like creating a Last Will and Testament, wealthy people are also put off from the process.. There is a mistaken belief that there will always be enough money to cover the estate, taxes, etc., without having to properly plan for it. Does wealth keep you from planning for your estate.

Agricultural conservation easements: If you want to ensure that your farm is preserved for future generations, you may want to consider setting up an agricultural conservation easement. This is a legal agreement that allows you to protect the farm’s natural resources and preserve its agricultural use. If you have a farm business, you’ll need to consider how it will be managed and operated after you’re gone. A business succession plan can help you to ensure that the business continues to thrive and meet the needs of its customers.

It’s important for wealthy individuals to remember that estate planning is an important way to protect their assets and ensure that they are distributed according to their wishes. It can also help to minimize taxes and other costs, which can be especially important for wealthy individuals. If you’re a wealthy individual and you’ve been procrastinating, it’s important to take action and get started as soon as possible.

 

Many Millennials and members of the GenZ generation often feel as though they don’t have enough assets to bother getting a Last Will. This is a large reason as to why many remain childless: the cost of everything is rising, and so married couples choose not to have children (this is part of the reason as to why they’re not having children). This is an article that mostly pertains to U.S. citizens but also applies to Canadian couples who are childfree. We’ve previously posted about childfree couples and estate-planning, which you can read here. We’ve come across come more helpful tips when it comes to estate-planning for childfree couples. Did you know that “investing backward” is a thing? Here are three helpful tips that may help you if you’re stuck in this situation and are looking to invest and acquire more income:

  1. Prioritize flexibility when it comes to your lifestyle: do you need a house in the suburbs if it’s just you and your spouse, or would a small apartment work for the two of you? Or, can you work remotely anywhere? This could impact your housing costs and if you work remotely, you may want to take advantage of the different housing costs that vary from state-to-state (or province-to-province).
  2. Invest backwards: this tip is definitely for couples in the U.S. who are childfree and looking to create retirement accounts, focusing on a taxable brokerage might work best for you. 
  3. “Who will take care of us when we get older?” That’s something that you may want to think about as you and your spouse get older. How will you plan for long-term care if you don’t have children to help look after you? Have you ever heard of long-term care insurance? Only 2.5% of childfree couples in the States have received money from friends or family, so there needs to be a long-term plan for retirement and investment. 

You may want to read more about how childfree couples can invest in both their financial and retirement planning, here

Actress Anne Heche died on August 5th, 2022, after driving her car head on into a  house in Los Angeles. Heche was declared brain dead on site but her other organs were harvested. Much like other celebrities we’ve written about, Anne Heche didn’t have a Last Will and Testament in place, but she did leave around a roughly (hefty) fortune of around $4 million, two sons, and a mess for her loved ones to sift through (legally). Without a Last Will and Testament, the latest update shows that her 20-year old son is slogging it out in court with his mother’s ex-boyfriend. They’re both fighting over Heche’s estate, which you can read about here. 

Aside from the ensuing legal mess that Heche left behind for her loved ones, there is also the lingering emotional trauma for the victim of the house that Heche rammed into that fateful night in August. Heche slammed her car into the front end of a house and died on impact. The woman,  Lynne Mishele, was working from home when the crash happened: the car slammed into the front of the house, the living room, and the laundry room. According to the lawsuit, the car only stopped “..a few feet away from her.” Both the woman and her three pets survived. Aside from losing all of her physical items, the emotional trauma caused by the crash has caused Lynne to develop (understandably) depression and anxiety. The woman is seeking damages from Heche’s estate for $2 million dollars. You can read more about it here.

 

Messy breakups can be particularly hard on common-in-law relationships, particularly when there is no Last Will and Testament in place. While several provinces offer common-law couples the same legal protections as married couples, other provinces (such as Ontario) are lacking in the same arena of legal provisions for common-in-law couples. There is the added problem if one partner has an updated Will and the other half is just blowing it off. Perhaps the common-in-law spouse isn’t properly communicating about his/her wishes, or just doesn’t see the need to update (or start) a Last Will and Testament.   In a study published by the Journal of Marriage and Family  in August of 2022, Dr. Pugliese and her colleagues found many striking differences among common-in-law couples in several provinces: several provinces have certain legal protections for common-in-law couples should their spouses pass on. There are a few provinces lacking in this area: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador do not guarantee anything if the common-in-law spouse dies. All the better to have a Last Will in place. Laws may take some time to be updated throughout every province, so a Will and other proper documentation (a Power of Attorney and a Living Will) is always good to have. A power of attorney is a legal document that allows an individual (the “principal”) to appoint another person (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to act on their behalf in financial and legal matters. A Living Will allows an individual to specify the types of medical treatment they do or do not want to receive, such as life-sustaining treatment or artificially administered nutrition and hydration. 

The study also found that 22 percent of couples in common-in-law relationships would disperse their assets to their partners, compared with 86 percent of married couples, who would leave their spouses something. Common-in-law couples may be in big trouble if they a) don’t communicate their wishes to their partners, and b) don’t have an updated Last Will and Testament. You can read more about the study, here.