Drag events onto your lifeline.

    • At this age, you could legally write a Will in Alberta. And drink alcohol. Hopefully not at the same time.
    • The freedom! The exhilaration! The insurance payments!
    • First of all, I’m jealous. Second, are you sure you want to leave that beast to Little Johnny who just got his licence?
    • If you move in with someone, over time you may be considered Adult Interdependent Partners (essentially common law). This can have effects on your future financial obligations if you separate, and can affect your Estate.
    • Congratulations! As you are looking ahead to a bright future together, don’t shy away from the difficult, ‘what if’ conversations.
    • The BIG one! This changes everything. Including your Estate Plan.
    • In addition to changing your driver’s licence, health care card, and contact details, moving out of the province should include a check up on your Will, Enduring Power of Attorney, and Personal Directive, as the laws change from province to province (and especially from country to country), so it is important to make sure they will do what you want them to (Don’t worry, you can probably wait until you have unpacked the boxes).
    • Lost in the excitement (and paperwork) of buying a house is the fact that your property (and who you have on title) is an important part of your Estate Plan. Choose wisely who you put on title!
    • And all of a sudden, life changes forever. More baby talk, less free time, more car seats, and fewer nights out. You now have a little person who is completely reliant on you, which can be the best feeling in the world. As you know, along with that reliance is the responsibility to care for them, and make sure that they grow up to be self-sufficient adults some day. Preparing a Will with your child in mind can be one of the most important things you do as a parent (and it will make you feel all grown up).
    • A fur baby of your very own (and not just one that is supposedly ‘yours’ but your dad walks and feeds 90% of the time). If you care about your dog or cat (or hedgehog, parakeet or whatever) like family, then having a plan in place is important to ensure that they don’t end up in a shelter.
    • The biggest fear in starting a new business is “but what if it fails?” However, it’s also important to plan for if it succeeds. Preparing for the growth of your business, and for succession planning (especially if it is a partnership) is crucial.
    • You will have your first experience with life and/or disability insurance through a work insurance plan. You probably won’t know much about what it really covers unless you read the booklet thoroughly (not likely), and you almost certainly won’t sit down and figure out how your insurance fits with a comprehensive Estate Plan. You should do that.
    • Whether it is amicable or… not so amicable, it can be a tough time in your life. While there is a lot going on, it is very important to update your Will (or get one for the first time). Otherwise you are probably leaving everything to your ex-spouse (and this can apply even if you were only common-law).
    • Often divorce or separation agreements (or court orders) will have some specific requirements in terms of the contents of your Will or the type of life insurance you should have. With a finalized divorce, you don’t have to worry about accidentally leaving everything to your ex-spouse, but you will need to have a new plan in place (especially if you have kids).
    • Second marriages are often more complex, from a legal perspective. You often have prenuptial agreements, separation agreements from past relationships, blended families, etc. It is important to have a comprehensive Estate Plan that makes sure that everyone is taken care of.
    • Yeah, right… okay, well, if this is actually the case, you should know that for most people, winning the lottery is often the start of a downward spiral into depression or worse. However, studies show that if you use your good fortune as a resource to care for your family, your community, or to benefit a cause – in your lifetime or in your Will – then it is more likely to have a positive impact on your life.
    • The cottage is a great way to enjoy time with family, and these properties are often left in the same family for generations, if there is a proper plan in place. So your family can go have fun! (Just watch out for leeches.)
    • Much like a cottage, a cabin can be a winter retreat to enjoy time with family, and focus on what is important (skiing and eggnog?). It takes some planning to make sure these properties are enjoyed by the family into the future, and not sold because of potential tax difficulties.
    • Having a specific plan for the family motorhome can be important in a Will – if it causes holdups on the highway, that’s one thing, but it shouldn’t do so in your Estate.
    • Before you go on vacation, you buy travel insurance, right? (humour me and nod your head). Well, having a properly prepared Will Package can be just as important before you take that exotic trip to Mongolia, or that trip to Vegas.
    • Whether you quit, are fired or laid off, or retire, an assessment of your insurance, pension, and how they are changing within the context of your personal Estate Plan is important.
    • In this difficult time, a lot will change, and you will have to prepare a plan for the future.
    • Estate Planning for a child with a disability involves specialized trust planning, so that the courts won’t overturn your Will, and so that you can maximize your child’s access to government benefits.
    • Many of these investments have unique tax situations, and can either be left to the Estate or can have a named beneficiary. There are pros and cons to each, but should be understood in the context of your complete Estate Plan.
    • Valuable artwork (in terms of money, not sentiment) should be appraised, and careful thought given to who it should go to, and any associated tax consequences.
    • Valuing a charity or organization enough to devote your time is often an indication that their cause is important to you. Providing a donation in your Estate Plan can be a great way for your Estate to benefit what you value, and take advantage of tax benefits.
    • Well done sticking to your budget (or growing your income faster than your inability to do so)! When you start to move from having a few assets to accumulating wealth, there can be tremendous value in reassessing your Estate Plan.
    • Do you have friends that are family members not by blood, but by the bonds that you have shared over the years? If you want to include them in your Estate Plan, you probably need to have a Will in place.
    • Now you are really starting to grow your equity. Well done! Just make sure that you have a plan in place so that your Estate isn’t faced with all kinds of penalties (and please don’t leave your beneficiaries with lousy tenants)
    • Who else is on the mortgage, and who will be paying it if you pass away? Did you get mortgage insurance? Should you? There may be something better out there, depending on your goals.
    • If you are the only one signing for a loan, it won’t pass to your beneficiaries (you can’t pass on debt). However, any debts will generally be paid out of any remaining value in your Estate, so it may be worthwhile to have a plan to protect that value.
    • All of the glory and possible embarrassment of your iTunes account are all… in a legal grey area. There are strategies that you can use to pass on your digital files, however, even if they are governed by DRM.
    • There are situations in which you may want to leave a family member out of your Will. To do so, care has to be taken to ensure that your wishes are not open to litigation or at risk of being overturned by the courts.
    • Leaving money to a family member with an addiction can do more harm than good, particularly if it is provided in a lump sum. Trusts can be an effective way to make sure that someone is cared for and protected.
    • Foreign assets are tricky, and can lead to a double taxation of your Estate.
    • If you are living abroad and maintain Canadian assets, you may want to prepare a Will to deal with your Canadian assets, and a Power of Attorney, so that someone in Canada you trust can deal with your Canadian affairs on your behalf while you are away.
    • Pensions can be an important part of an Estate Plan, depending on the pension in question.
    • A financial plan is a great start to preparing for the future, and goes hand in hand with a comprehensive Estate Plan. A good Estate Planning lawyer will work directly with your Financial Planner to make sure that everything is accounted for.
      • Congrats on being born! You are now part of an exclusive club of only 108 billion people in world history.