When you hear the phrase “estate planning” you likely think of death, taxes and a will. These are important parts of estate planning but they’re not the full picture.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning involves setting up a plan that establishes who will eventually receive your assets and makes known how you want your affairs to be handled in the event you are unable to handle them on your own. Estate planning is about people; who they love and how they wish to provide for them. It’s not only about death but also about preparing for the possibility of becoming dependent through age, disability or injury.
What is the role of your accountant in estate planning?
Intricate knowledge of taxes allows your accountant to keep you informed regarding the tax implications of your estate plan. They ensure that your plan minimizes taxes and maximizes the portion of your estate that can be passed on to your beneficiaries. Your accountant works together with your lawyer to help:
- Clearly define your estate planning goals.
- Organize and create your estate planning team (experts on law, finance, and taxes).
- Evaluate and recommend estate planning options.
- Prepare, organize and review your estate planning documents including current wills, trusts, health care and power of attorney.
- Decrease the problems and expenses associated with probate.
- Lessen taxes at the time of death.
- Arrange for management of your estate in the event you are incapacitated.
- Draft a working plan for conserving and effectively managing your estate after death.
- Transfer the assets of your estate to heirs the way you want.
- Organize fair and adequate liquidation of estate to cover taxes and other expenses.
- Amend your plan as needed.
Your accountant is as helpful as your lawyer when planning your will, discussing accounts, debts, and assets, determining bequeathals, deciding who you’d like to have as executor of your estate/joint bank accounts and who you’d prefer as Power of Attorney for your affairs if you become incapacitated. Both professionals guide you in making the best decisions for you and those you leave behind.
Who needs estate planning?
If you wish your estate distributed according to your wishes as opposed to statutory guidelines, you need an estate plan. If you have assets that are susceptible to high taxes, estate planning is beneficial. If you own a business, estate planning is essential. If you want planned distributions of benefits for your descendants, estate planning is helpful. If any of your heirs need financial assistance upon your passing, estate planning is for you.
Questions to ask your accountant regarding your estate planning:
- Can you help with probate? Your accountant will have a thorough understanding of your assets and tax liabilities enabling him to deal with the probate process quickly. Much of the work involved in probate is familiar to an accountant.
- Can you handle my accounts when I pass? An accountant can manage a deceased’s accounts while the estate is being settled. This ensures heirs that money is being managed and spent properly.
- Who will prepare my final tax return? Accountants can handle final income tax returns, as well as the estate tax return. They understand what taxes need to be paid at the provincial and federal levels, exemptions that exist for particular circumstances and how to help your estate save money.
- Can you help my beneficiaries? A CPA is able to help heirs with their individual tax filing (at provincial and federal levels) avoiding costly government fines and reducing family discord.
- Can you help with the tax obligations of the estate? Estates have many tax obligations especially if your estate has several assets. Your accountant can handle these tax matters, help calculate the value of your estate and determine the impact of the tax laws. An account makes sure you fulfill your tax obligations, avoiding the risk of costly fees and penalties.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is hard. Simplify your heirs’ situation with estate planning so that they need not undergo a stressful ordeal. When it comes to the financial intricacies of your business and its future, consult a team of financial professionals who can offer a specialized set of expertise. Your accountant can help you prevent fines, fees and penalties. They can ensure all aspects of estate accounting are complete and accurate. Protect your legacy for your loved ones. Take charge of your financial endowments. Talk to your accountant today.
Need help ensuring that the money and assets you’ve worked hard to build aren’t destroyed after you’re gone? Want help with business estate planning? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Our expert staff will help you navigate the complex maze of estate planning with ease. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company use their experience and expertise to help your business. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.