How will you handle unique assets in your estate plan?
Disclaimer: This article on estate planning and unique assets is intended for the purpose of providing information only. It is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.
As part of our estate planning checklist, we ask you to take some time to consider any significant assets. For many Canadians, they think about their homes, their vehicles, life insurance policies, investment accounts and other items.
However, what about your online assets? Have you considered other things close to your heart, such as your collections or even your pets?
To create a comprehensive estate plan, you’ll want to consider how these items impact the value of the estate. It can affect your estate tax planning and impact how your assets are distributed.
This article will discuss some unique assets and how you can best communicate your wishes regarding these items.
Digital assets are a relatively new area to consider in estate law; however, the reality is that many of us own intangible assets. This can include cryptocurrencies, websites, online accounts and even your travel miles! These are part of your estate and should be considered in your estate planning documents.
Not only should you consider an inventory of these assets, but consider how your estate trustee will be able to access them. While you can consider providing passwords or access to an online password manager (such as LastPass), do not include it in your will. Your will becomes part of the public record during the probate process. Certainly, that would create a serious security risk!
Collections often hold either sentimental or financial value. Whether it’s rare coins, comic books, or even items like high-end sneakers, their unique nature demands specific attention in an estate plan.
The more information you can give your beneficiaries about your collection, the better. Ideally, you should have a catalogue of your collection that includes its appraised value. It would be a separate document referenced in your will, and it would be wise to update it regularly.
Since a collection is many items, knowing where they are stored will help your executor locate and distribute them.
This is one area where you will want to discuss your plans with your family. Your collection may reflect a shared passion or has sentimental value to specific members. Openly communicating your intentions regarding the collection can prevent misunderstandings or conflicts among your beneficiaries.
Art is a unique part of estate planning, blending personal expression and financial value. Handling art in your estate plan involves detailed cataloging, verifying authenticity, and documenting its history. This comprehensive record, including descriptions and authenticity certificates, helps everyone involved understand your art collection.
Deciding what happens to your art—whether donated, sold, or passed down—requires clear instructions. Legal aspects like taxes and copyrights add complexity, so it is best to speak with your lawyer and financial advisor. By addressing these elements thoughtfully, your art can maintain its worth and significance for future generations.
Pets are cherished family members, and their well-being after one’s passing is a concern for many. However, under the law, they are simply property. We dedicated an entire article to considering your pets in your estate plan, but you have many options, including creating a trust.
When it comes to your pets, you will also want to include them in your power of attorney for property. In that case, someone can make important decisions on your behalf if you are unable to manage your affairs.
Gifting Assets to Non-Resident Beneficiaries
While you may not be gifting a unique asset, distributing assets to non-resident beneficiaries adds complexity. Some objects cannot be exported from Canada without a permit under the Canadian Cultural Property Export and Import Act (Canada). The Act contains a comprehensive list, which includes “objects of applied and decorative art” and “musical instruments.”
It is worth speaking to your estate lawyer about any such objects to determine if your beneficiary designations require such a permit.
Begin the Estate Planning Process with Beeksma Law
As they say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, and at Beeksma Law, we want nothing but success for you. A good estate plan can give peace of mind to you, your family members and other beneficiaries. It can also help you lower your estate’s tax bill and assure you that your wishes are carried out.
Don’t leave your legacy to chance – make Beeksma Law part of your estate plan today. Our team focuses on estate law and has helped many families avoid common estate planning mistakes. Take the first step today by booking a complimentary consultation. Let us assist you in crafting a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your wishes and secures your family’s future.