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Canadian Estate Planning Guide - Pathfinder Law

Providing expert legal services for civil, family, construction, wills and estates and business law.

Last will and testament, estate planning

Estate Planning Guide for Canadians

Because many people don’t like thinking about their mortality, estate planning is often an overlooked financial planning aspect. But as the Canadian population ages, it’s a serious topic that needs to be discussed.

In this post, your trusted estate lawyer in Abbotsford aims to provide you with a guide that can help you with estate planning:

Estate Planning Checklist

Creating an estate plan can be overwhelming. It’s essential to consider your goals seriously. Making these significant decisions before beginning the process can save you time and money. Some questions to ask:

  • What are your goals for your estate?
  • Who do you want to receive your assets?
  • How do you want your debts and taxes to be paid?
  • Who do you want to make decisions on your behalf if you can’t?

Once you understand your goals, you can start to put together your estate plan. Begin by creating or updating your will. This document will outline your final wishes and appoint an executor to carry them out. If you have young kids, it’s imperative that you select a guardian in your will.

In addition to a will, you may also want to consider setting up trusts. Trusts can be used to manage assets, minimize taxes, and provide for your loved ones.

You will also need to name beneficiaries for your accounts. This includes retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and brokerage accounts. Be sure to update your beneficiaries regularly, as your family situation may change.

Finally, review your plan periodically to ensure it still meets your needs. Estate planning, unlike what others think, is an ongoing process and not a one-time thing.

Key Steps in Preparing the Paperwork

Make a List of Your Key Assets

Your key assets are everything you own. Your will covers your umbrella estate, which is everything you own, so you don’t need to list everything in detail. This list of assets will help you decide whether you want to leave certain items or accounts to specific people.

Make a List of Your Liabilities

Your executor will have to know what debts you have to pay them off from your estate. Make a list of your liabilities, including your mortgage and any loans, so your executor can easily find and pay them.

Ensure That You Have Named Beneficiaries for Your Investments 

Make sure you have named beneficiaries for your investments, like RRSPs and LIFs. That way, should something happen to you, your money will go directly to the people you’ve chosen instead of going through your will. 

Record Life Insurance Policy Information

This record keeps track of your life insurance policies, including the policy number, the company that issued the policy, the amount of the policy, and the named beneficiaries. This record is vital in case you need to file a claim or if there is a change in your policy.

The Key People and Their Roles

Who Will Have to Make Important Medical Decisions for You If You’re Incapacitated? 

It’s essential to speak with your chosen Power of Attorney for health care so they know your wishes. You should also appoint a backup if your first choice cannot fulfill the role.

Who Will Carry Out Your Wishes After You Die? 

You need to choose someone to be your executor, just like you would choose a Power of Attorney. Talk to them first and ensure they are okay with the responsibility, then choose backups if they can’t do it.

Who Will Get All or Some of Your Assets After You Die? 

This is an important question to answer as part of your estate planning. Your beneficiaries will receive a percentage of your residual estate, which is everything that remains after debts and taxes are paid, and any specific gifts are distributed. You can name anyone as a beneficiary, including family members, friends, or even a charity.

Who Will Care for Your Children?

You must appoint a guardian for your children if something happens to you and you cannot care for them. This guardian will be responsible for their care and managing their inheritance.


Estate planning is important for individuals and families in order to protect their assets and plan for the future. There are many different estate planning strategies and tools available, so it is important to consult with a seasoned estate lawyer to come up with the best plan for your individual situation. Estate planning can be complex, but it is important to take the time to create a plan that will suit you.

Pathfinder Law can provide you with the expert legal services of an experienced estate lawyer in Abbotsford. Contact us today so we can schedule your consultation!

Disclaimer – The information contained herein is of a general nature. It is not intended to be legal advice and it is not intended to address the exact circumstances of any particular individual or entity. You should not rely on or act upon such information without receiving appropriate professional advice and without a thorough examination of your particular situation.