Communicating your estate plan

Once you’ve created your estate plan, communicate it to your loved ones. This ensures they have the information they need to carry out your wishes.

Create an information package

Put together an information package that includes:

  • a copy of your will, living will, and other estateEstate The total sum of money and property you leave behind when you die.+ read full definition documents – plus the location of the original signed copies,
  • a list of all your financial accounts, such as bank, investmentInvestment An item of value you buy to get income or to grow in value.+ read full definition and credit card accounts,
  • a list of all the benefits your family members may be entitled to, such as life insuranceLife Insurance Insurance that pays cash to your family or other beneficiary after your death. This can give them income and help pay your funeral and other final costs.+ read full definition and pensions, and
  • a list and description of your debts (such as a mortgageMortgage A loan that you get to pay for a home or other property. Often the loan is for 20 years or more. You make a set number of payments for a set amount each year.+ read full definition, line of creditLine of credit An account that you set up with a financial institution (often a bank) to borrow money. It lets you borrow what you need, when you need it, up to a certain limit.+ read full definition or loans) and your major assets (home, other real estate, investments and any collectiblesCollectibles Items whose worth may go up over time because they are rare or have special value. Examples: artwork, antiques, coins. As an investment, they carry the risk that their value will not increase.+ read full definition such as art or jewelry that have substantial value).

Put together an information package and give copies to your executorExecutor Someone you name to carry out the wishes that you set out in your will after your death. May be named by the court if you don’t name one. In Ontario, an executor is called an estate trustee.+ read full definition, your spouse, adult children and anyone else who should know your estate plan.

Discuss your plan with your family

Take the time to ensure your family understands your wishes, why you’ve arranged things the way you have and any estate planningEstate planning The plans you make to build and manage wealth for your lifetime and thereafter. Goals may include leaving the most money possible to your loved ones, with the least amount of taxes. Other goals may include caring for children, paying off debt or passing on a business.+ read full definition steps you’ve put in place to have your wishes carried out. A good opportunity to do this may be when you give them the information package.

Disputes can occur when family members are caught by surprise about estate plans or don’t understand the reasoning behind them.

Take action

Give key people information about your:

  • Financial accounts
  • Insurance and pensionPension A steady income you get after you retire. Some pensions pay you a fixed amount for life. Others save up money for you while you are working. You use that money to create income after you retire.+ read full definition benefits
  • Debts
  • Assets
  • Will and estate documents
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