Top 10 estate planning tips to drive your family crazy

From an estate planning point of view there are a number of ways to drive your family nuts.

From an estate planning point of view there are a number of ways to drive your family nuts. Not only can you drive them nuts but you can also create tensions and rifts in your family for generations to come.

Here are the top 10 ways to achieve this:

1. Make sure you don’t have a will, this ways the courts can decide how your estate is to be distributed. If you were smart enough to get a will be sure to hide it so no one knows where it is, nothing like a good will hunt to get the family excited. If you do have a will make sure that it so old that it is no longer valid and does not remotely reflect your current wishes.

2. Be sure to name your estate as the beneficiary on your RSP, RRIF and TFSA accounts so that your assets do not bypass probate and flow through your estate, this way the government can collect probate fees and your executor can earn more as your estate will be larger.

The key takeaway of this strategy is that your spouse will not receive the assets immediately but will rather have to wait for the cash until your estate is settled, it will only be a couple of years at the most.

3. The above point applies to life insurance policies too, if you make the estate the beneficiary of your life insurance policies, you turn what is a essentially a tax free, immediately payable benefit to a benefit that has to be waited for and will attract probate fees, your family will probably have smoke coming out their ears when they discover this one.

4. It is very important to leave bequests directly to minor children so that the office of the public trustee can oversee the cash the way they see fit and charge your family a fee to do so.

5. If you are the last surviving spouse make sure that you put your home and your investments in joint name with your kids to avoid probate fees, the beauty of this strategy is that if they ever get divorced or  sued, you get to potentially lose those assets.

6. If you have a spouse make sure all your non-registered assets are not in joint name, this way you will not get to use the spousal rollover and your spouse will again have to wait until your estate is settled before accessing the assets and again probate and executor fees will apply. You will also be happy to know that your estate will also have to pay any tax on the investments if you have any unrealized capital gains.

7. Make sure you don’t have an enduring power of attorney, this way if you ever lose your mental capacity your spouse may not make any financial decisions on your behalf that might benefit both of you.

8. If you are the last surviving spouse make sure that all your non-registered investments have no ability to designate a beneficiary, that way all your assets can flow through your estate again costing money and wasting time. Whatever you do, do not use investments regulated under the insurance act where you can flow the proceeds directly to your heirs avoiding the estate and the fees associated with this, that would be way too simple.

9. Here is a good one, if you have a safety deposit box make sure your family does not know which bank you have it with. Even better, hide one key and lock the other one in the box.

10. Finally make sure your family has no idea where you have your investment accounts. They must not know who your investment advisor, accountant or lawyer is, this must be kept secret, this way it will take them months to find these accounts.

If you are like most people that love and care about your family then don’t follow the advice above. Call me if you have any questions.



Written by Stuart Kirk, CIM. Stuart Kirk is a Retirement Planning Specialist with Precision Wealth Management Ltd. The opinions expressed are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Precision Wealth Management Ltd. For comments or questions Stuart can be reached at  or 250-954-0247.

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