Most people will benefit from a deeper understanding of the interactions between the Will and the named beneficiaries on life insurance policies and investments such as RRSPs. A Will that is created without due consideration of the role of named beneficiaries can mean that the desired outcome cannot be achieved.
Your Will is not the be-all and end-all. It must work in conjunction with how assets are structured to ensure that your estate planning goals will be realized. This requires an understanding of how all of this works together, and because finances change over time, your plan needs to be reviewed on an ongoing basis to keep it current.
Let’s take a look at one example:
Our subject is a woman in her 70s. Her husband has already passed away. She has two children and two grandchildren. She is a renter and doesn’t own real estate. She has $40K in an everyday banking account. She has $300K in a Retirement Income Fund (RIF), $100K in a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), and $250K in a life insurance policy. She has a Will that says each grandchild gets $50K and the rest is to be divided between her two children.
Here’s the problem: This outcome will never be achieved. Why not? She has named her two children as beneficiaries on the RIF, TFSA and life insurance policy. This means those assets will be transferred directly to her children upon her death and will never become part of her estate.
The only assets that become part of her estate are the $40K she has in the bank. This will likely all go to cover the tax liability on the RIF, leaving nothing for her grandchildren.
So, the intentions were great but the planning was not effective.
Here’s the big takeaway: Do you know enough about how all this planning works together? Finances change on an ongoing basis. You need to review your plan regularly, gain an understanding of how all of this works, and structure your assets in such a way that your plan can be fulfilled.