Wills, Personal Directives & Power of Attorney Documents are just the start. Let’s get your affairs in order to streamline your estate, ensure your wishes are fulfilled and most importantly maintain family harmony.
A will is a legal document outlining your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children. If you do not currently have a written will your estate will be governed by the rules set out in the Wills and Succession Act. For information in other provinces please contact us and we’ll be happy to provide the relevant information.
A personal directive is a legal document that allows you to name the person or persons you trust to make decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity. Understanding Personal Directives in Alberta.
Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone who can make financial decisions on your behalf, if you are no longer capable of making decisions. It is written when you’re capable of making your own decisions, states when the person you trust will have authority, can start immediately and continue if you lose capacity or can start when you lose capacity.
There are effectively two types of trusts. Testamentary trusts and inter vivos trusts (living trusts).
A testamentary trust takes effect upon your death. The assets relating to a testamentary trust form part of your estate and are subject to any estate fees, probate costs and taxes that apply and are then transferred into the trust.
An inter vivos trust is established while you are alive and property ownership is immediately passed to your beneficiaries. You can add more property to the trust over time and because the transfer of ownership happens during your lifetime, these assets do not form part of your estate and are no longer subject to probate.
Why use a trust?
You have minor children or grandchildren
You can use a trust to provide income to minor beneficiaries (for example, children or grandchildren) in their younger years and to pay out the capital when they reach a specified age. You may not want a beneficiary to receive the entire value of your estate on their 18th birthday.
You have children from a previous marriage
If you remarry, a trust can provide support for your spouse during their lifetime, while ensuring that your children from a previous marriage eventually inherit any remaining assets.
Your have a disabled child or spouse
A trust can be used to ensure a disabled spouse or child receives an appropriate level of care and has sufficient assets to maintain this care after you die. It is also used to protect against losing AISH benefits.
You have trust concerns for a beneficiary to handle their inheritance
A trust can be used to determine how and when a beneficiary receives income, and what that income can be used for. In the scenario of drug and alcohol abuse a trust can pay for housing and living expenses without giving control of assets to the beneficiary.
Income earned in an inter vivos or living trust is taxed at the highest marginal tax rate, but any trust income that is distributed to adult beneficiaries is taxed in their hands. If your beneficiaries are in a lower tax bracket, the investment income can potentially be taxed at their lower rate.