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The importance of trustees to estate planning

Most Canadians with an estate plan are most interested in looking after their children and extended family after they die. British Columbia residents often choose their children as beneficiaries, but this can be a problematic choice for a number of reasons. This is one of the reasons naming trustees can be so important to the estate planning process. 

The biggest problem with naming children as beneficiaries of life insurance, pension plans and other assets comes if the children are minors when the estate holder passes away. Many companies will refuse to pay out death benefits to minors, which means those assets could be held by the companies and not released to the family. Assigning a trustee to oversee the bequeathal of assets to minor children is a good way to avoid this. 

Trustees are given the unique legal position of being able to manage funds and other assets for minor children until they come of age. Often, these trustees are also court-approved guardians assigned to look after minor children in the event of an estate holder's untimely death. In a best-case scenario, a trustee is someone the estate holder trusts who also has the financial acumen to be able to handle issues as they arise. 

Estate planning, particularly the assignation of beneficiaries and trustees, can be complicated business. Thankfully, here in British Columbia, a considerable amount of support exists for individuals looking to plan for late life. Seeking out the services of experienced estate attorneys can help to ensure an estate plan is complete and comprehensive, and accurately articulates the wishes of the estate holder. 

Source: walpole.wickedlocal.com, "What to know about estate planning", Katharina Helmick, July 23, 2017

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