At what age should I start planning my estate?

 Two parents sit on the couch and check their Edward Jones account on a laptop while two children play in the living room.

Many people associate estate planning as something they need to do later in life, after they retire, or the kids are grown. But regardless of your age, we believe putting an estate strategy in place is an important step to help make sure your family, financial and medical affairs are taken care of if something were to happen to you.

Your financial advisor can help by walking you through the process, helping prioritize your goals and working to coordinate your team of tax and legal professionals.

Considerations to make while planning your estate

No matter what age you are, here are a few things you should think about when beginning to plan your estate.

  1. Create a Will - A Will not only allows you to name who will handle the administration of your estate and how you want your assets distributed, it can also spell out who you'd like to name as guardians of your children if something were to happen to you.
  2. Look into your life insurance options - Do you have a strategy in place to cover your family's living expenses if something were to happen to you? If not, talk to your financial advisor. There are many (affordable) options that can address different family situations.
  3. Discuss your wishes for future medical care - It may be a difficult topic to discuss, but outlining your wishes for future care can make a big difference later for you and your loved ones. A Health Care Power of Attorney (depending of the province, can be referred to as a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, Representation Agreement, Personal Directive, etc.) is a legal document that, among other things, allows you to set out your wishes regarding who will have the authority to make medical and personal care decisions for you.
  4. Review your beneficiary designations - When's the last time you took a look at the beneficiaries of your RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) or TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) or your life insurance policies? It may be a good time to review them, especially if you've had a life change (like a marriage or divorce) or if your children are now adults, as you may want to add them as primary or contingent beneficiaries.
  5. Consider a living trust - You've worked hard to be able to live the life you want, which includes controlling your wealth. A living trust, such as an Alter Ego Trust, can help you direct how you'd like your assets used or distributed during your lifetime as well as after you pass away. This control may be important depending on your personal and family situation. Minimizing probate fees (referred to as Estate Administration Tax in Ontario)  may also become more important. In many provinces living trusts are also used as a way to bypass probate, which can save your family the time and expense of these public court proceedings.
  6. Leave a legacy - What's important to you? When it comes to your legacy, you have lots of options, including giving to charities you believe in. You may not realize there are many ways to give to charities during your lifetime that can have positive tax benefits for you now, such as outright gifting, Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable annuities and foundations.

How we can help

These decisions can be complex, which is why we believe a team approach is best. Your Edward Jones Financial Advisor can work with you and your team of legal and tax professionals to put a personalized strategy in place that meets the needs of you and your family.

Important Information:

Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your lawyer or qualified tax advisor for further discussion about what planning is most beneficial for you.