What is estate planning?

To plan your estate is to define how you want your assets to be owned, managed and preserved during your lifetime and how you want them to be given after your death. Regardless of what age you are or how much money and assets you may possess, an estate plan is a highly beneficial undertaking. It can reduce the taxes and expenses of your estate, simplify and speed up the transfer of assets to your beneficiaries and ensure that your beneficiaries are provided for financially. For example, where your estate consists of capital assets such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, rental properties or other commercial real estate, or any other complicating factors such as family cottages or businesses, the process of estate planning can minimize certain expenses of the estate, such as probate fees and income taxes. Good estate planning can also help avoid disputes among your surviving family members and save unnecessary legal and accounting costs. This results in a greater portion of your estate assets being made available to your beneficiaries.