Estate planning in 6 easy steps

Any time you go through a life event that involves making big choices and financial decisions, it's a good indicator that it's time to start planning.

Adèle Manseau | Desjardins Group

You’re probably not going to live forever. That’s where an estate plan comes in handy—just in case you don’t!

It may seem daunting, but estate planning isn’t as complicated as you might think. It’s all a matter of priorities.

Whether or not you’re married or have kids, creating an estate plan is the only way to guarantee what happens to your money after you die. The better your plan, the less complicated it will be for your loved ones to settle your estate.


Any time you go through a life event that involves making big choices and financial decisions, it’s a good indicator that it’s time to start planning (or time to update your plan). For example:

  • Getting married
  • Having kids
  • Buying a house
  • Getting separated
  • Blending families


Step 1: Documentation

Draw up an inventory of your assets and locate all your legal documents (bank accounts, RRSPs, insurance policies, income tax returns, marriage certificate, etc.).

Step 2: Your assets

Complete an estate valuation with the help of a specialist to get an overview of what your estate is worth.

Step 3: Taxes

Maximize the value of what you can leave behind. A little advance planning can pay off big in terms of reducing your estate’s tax bill.

Step 4: Your will

Draw up your will to put your wishes in writing. This is where you decide what you want to leave behind and to whom.

Step 5: Your finances

Consider drawing up a protection mandate. This is a legal document that provides instructions for how to take care of you, your assets and your finances if something happens and you can’t look after your own affairs.

Step 6: Special situations

Some situations require extra planning and protection: if you have young children, kids from a previous marriage, or a family member who is disabled or dependent. In some cases, you might want to think about setting up a testamentary trust.

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