As a wealth advisor, one of the many ways I like to assist my clients is to suggest areas to save them money and to help them avoid aggravation.
I have encountered many real life scenarios in my past 25 years in the investment business relating to Will and Estate issues. For example, in some situations it may makes sense to have joint accounts with right of survivorship set up while the partners are in good health. Joint accounts can serve to deal effectively with a variety of issues such as ease and quick transfer of assets to the surviving spouse and avoiding probate fees on the estate of the first to die spouse.
Probate fees apply to assets that are part of an estate. All financial institutions will require a probated Will prior to allowing a distribution of assets to beneficiaries. This can be a long process and limit the financial flexibility of the surviving spouse.
I recommend to all my clients that they have all legal documents such as Power of Attorney and Wills be current and set up to minimize tax using all legal methods and particularly, where appropriate. It is however critical for my clients to seek tax advice in the example of a joint account to insure they fully understand the respective tax and ownership implications.
This article is for information purposes only. It is recommended that individuals consult with a professional before acting on any information contained in this article. The opinions stated are not necessarily those of Scotia Capital Inc. or The Bank of Nova Scotia. ScotiaMcLeod is a division of Scotia Capital Inc., Member CIPF.