News Column

Proper Estate Planning Can Help Maximize the Legacy You Leave

June 3, 2014

But TD survey finds less than half of Canadians aged 65+ feel very well prepared

TORONTO, June 3, 2014 /CNW/ -Many Canadians aged 65 or older want to leave as much of their estate as possible to their family or charitable causes, but only four in 10 feel very well prepared when it comes to making sure that will happen, and more than a third don't take regular steps to keep their estate plan up to date, according to a recent TD survey. As a result, 25 per cent of those surveyed have concerns their estate will pay too much in taxes or their heirs will disagree about their decisions or squander the inheritance.

"Proper planning is essential when organizing your estate, whatever its size, particularly when you consider the added complexities that surface with family arrangements beyond the traditional nuclear one," said Jillian Bryan, an investment advisor and portfolio manager with TD Wealth Private Investment Advice. "An estate plan not only has obvious financial benefits, including minimizing estate costs or taxes, but also can help ensure your wishes are clear and carried out as intended."

Most people understand they should have a will that directs how their estate will be distributed, says Bryan, but many Canadians still don't have a valid will in place, often finding it a difficult topic to address. Whatever the size or complexity of your estate, the value of your home, investments, retirement savings, insurance and other assets can make it larger than you might think. And, when there is no will to provide direction, unnecessary and often unexpected costs and delays can surface.

"It's important to get advice on the options available and understand the different ways an estate plan can carry out your wishes," said Ian Lebane, Will and Estate Planner, TD Wealth, Wealth Advisory Services. "In addition to distributing assets through your estate as outlined by a will, an estate planner can offer advice on strategies for distributing assets outside your will that may not be subject to the same taxes." Lebane adds that in many situations life insurance can be used as an efficient and cost-effective way to grow and preserve the value of an estate since these proceeds are received tax-free and provide immediate liquidity.

"A proper estate plan isn't entirely about what will happen when you pass away either," added Lebane. "We hope to avoid but need to plan for the unexpected, and having Powers of Attorney is key to helping to ensure that both your financial affairs and personal care are handled in your best interests should you become incapable of managing them yourself."

While estate planning can seem overwhelming, it's important to remember that there's help available. An advisor can work with you to build a comprehensive estate plan that's appropriate for you. Bryan also recommends discussing your plan with your family to make sure they know what you want to do with your estate and why. She points to the TD survey, which found that people who have discussed their estate plans with their families are much more likely to feel well prepared and to have no concerns about what will happen to their estate than people who have not.

"Once you have an estate plan and have discussed it with your family, you should review it at least every three to five years," added Lebane. According to the TD survey, only six in 10 Canadians over the age of 65 regularly take steps to revisit their estate plan to make sure it's up to date. Changes in marital status, the birth or death of a family member, or a change in your financial situation or employment status are factors that could require you to update your estate plan.

"You put your whole life into building your estate, so no matter how big or small it is, you shouldn't just 'set and forget' your estate plan," he said. "It doesn't take a lot of time to keep it up to date, but the implications to your beneficiaries of not doing so could be quite serious."

About the TD Smart Ways to Plan Your Inheritance Survey

TD commissioned Environics Research Group to conduct an online custom survey of 1,106 Canadians aged 65 and older amongst a broader sample of 6,015 Canadians aged 18 years and older. Responses were collected between February 11 and 25, 2014.

About TD Wealth

TD Wealth Private Investment Advice is a division of TD Waterhouse Canada Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

TD Wealth represents the products and services of TD Waterhouse Canada Inc., TD Waterhouse Private Investment Counsel Inc., TD Wealth Private Banking (offered by The Toronto-Dominion Bank) and TD Wealth Private Trust (offered by The Canada Trust Company).

About TD Bank Group

The Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries are collectively known as TD Bank Group ("TD" or the "Bank"). TD is the sixth largest bank in North America by branches and serves over 22 million customers in three key businesses operating in a number of locations in financial centres around the globe: Canadian Retail, including TD Canada Trust, TD Auto Finance Canada, TD Wealth (Canada), TD Direct Investing, and TD Insurance; U.S. Retail, including TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, TD Auto Finance U.S., TD Wealth (U.S.) and an investment in TD Ameritrade; and Wholesale Banking, including TD Securities. TD also ranks among the world's leading online financial services firms, with approximately 8 million active online and mobile customers. TD had CDN$896 billion in assets on April 30, 2014. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades under the symbol "TD" on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges.

SOURCE TD Canada Trust


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