Living the Dream

You've spent years in the 'savings' mode -- now it's time to spend. You are at the point where you can set the date for retirement and it's probably more frightening than you had thought it would be. You are going to be giving up your regular paycheque and must now rely on your savings to pay the bills and finally enjoy the fruit of all of your hard work. All those budgeting skills have really paid off and will continue to be valuable through retirement.

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Now that you have retired, you will most likely be getting income from several sources. You may have a pension from work which may also include a bridging benefit to age 65. You may be applying for Canada Pension Plan, (CPP), or if you are 65, you may be getting Old Age Security more commonly referred to as OAS. If you add up all of these amounts and find that you are falling short of your retirement income needs, you will also be taking an income from your investments. Where to draw the money from and how much to take are questions that are answered differently in every situation.

We will help you minimize risk and taxes both now and in the future, while simultaneously planning for an orderly estate transition. The new pension splitting rules have been a great addition to the options for tax planning if applied properly but is one of many opportunities to save money.

More importantly, we can help with a smooth transition of income from one spouse to another in the event of death. Many couples find that only one is really involved in the financial planning process leaving the other very uninformed, and ill-equipped to deal with estate issues. We will look after the orderly transfer and help your family. No matter what level of investment and financial knowledge they have, we will help them make informed and appropriate decisions. You don't have to work things through alone. We will help you through it.

The whole purpose of estate planning is to achieve the goals that you have for yourself and for your loved ones. Your will should give voice to your opinions and wishes when you aren't able to. Your must-haves for estate planning are: a will, power of attorney for personal care, power of attorney for property, and, if applicable, a living will.

A will provides for an orderly distribution of your estate, specifying who you want to act on your behalf as executor and designating who will take care of minor children or other dependants. Leaving no will or even a poorly constructed will can destroy a family. Take care to have it carefully thought out to help your loved ones through this most difficult and emotional event. A will shouldn't be set in stone since life always brings change and you should be reviewing it regularly with us.

A power of attorney designates the people who will make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated -- and they may be different people. A power of attorney for property can take care of your assets, pay bills, or file tax returns whereas a power of attorney for health care can give or withhold consent to treatment, dietary restrictions, and authorize admission to a medical facility. Both roles may require very different people with different skills but even if they are the same person, remember that you need both types of attorney.

A living will sets out your preferences should you become incapacitated or if you are put on life support. It deals with extremely personal issues such as resuscitation or organ donation and it helps your loved ones understand how you wish to be treated in the event of a catastrophic situation. Having a living will is a very individual choice and may or may not be part of your personal plan.

Our role as your planner is to help you think through issues to form a workable estate plan, one that will reflect your individual wishes and circumstances while minimizing taxes and promoting family harmony. Our experience with estate planning can help you understand and address unexpected roadblocks. We are here for you and for your family.

Retirement Planning