Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Financial Resolutions for Individuals

Financial Resolutions for Individuals

Ontario Real Estate Source

By Brian Madigan LL.B.

This is the time of the year for Resolutions.

I received a some resolutions from a friend and colleague, Mr. David Predovich an Investment Advisor with TD Waterhouse at the Mississauga offices. Naturally, these are Financial Resolutions. David can be contacted through TD Waterhouse at:


So, here’s the start, and it’s all good basic advice:

“The New Year is a time when we often reflect on the changes we need to make and create resolutions to help guide us. If you are looking for a financial-related goal, perhaps one of your commitments could be to update your estate plan. Here are some components to consider when conducting this review:

Update Your Will — A review of your Will will ensure that it is reflective of your current situation, especially if you have had significant changes in your circumstances. Make sure that you are still comfortable with your choice of estate trustee(s) and that the instructions for the distribution of your assets to the beneficiaries of your Will are reflective of your current wishes.

Don’t forget to let your trustee(s) know where the signed copy of your Will is kept for safekeeping and where they can find the contact information of your lawyer.”


This article raises five important points.

1) Up-to-date Will

Many people simply sign a Will, and because “contemplating death” is a rather unpleasant task, just leave it. Once it’s done, it’s done. But, that approach can certainly be worse than having no Will at all.

Consider Bob’s case. He was married to Harriet, divorced and has joint custody of his three year old daughter. He has now taken up residence with Marge, who has two children from a prior marriage.

His Will was signed at the time of his divorce, but his situation has changed abruptly and his intentions may not be carried out. If he marries Marge, his Will is revoked and he has no Will at all.

So, as unpleasant as it may be, this IS the time for Bob to head off to the lawyer’s office and up date his Will. Then, when he marries Marge, it will be time for him to go back and sign a new one.

2) Estate Trustee

Bob appointed Harriet as his Estate Trustee. He though that he would be dead, so Harriet would be fine, since he was leaving everything to Harriet in trust for his three year old daughter, Ruby.

Let’s rethink this situation. There is now a clear conflict if Marge is to receive anything. Perhaps Bob has someone who would be more suitable?

3) Distribution Instructions

This is the part that everyone thinks about when they contemplate signing a Will. Does it still make sense?

Now that Bob lives with Marge, should Marge receive something? And, what about her two children, now that they have become partly dependent upon Bob for support?

4) Will Location

There is really not much point to having a Will, if absolutely no one knows where it is. Or, by the time it’s actually found, your estate has been long since administered.

So, tell someone! Tell a few people. Don’t keep this a secret. Mention it to those who have a vested interest in finding it.

5) Lawyer Contact Information      

You should indicate the name of the lawyer who acted for you concerning the preparation of the Will. That lawyer may have retained the original.

Or, perhaps that lawyer knew where you intended to place it.

Do you have a safety deposit box? Is it in your name alone? Should someone else have access?

Assuming that you have no place whatsoever to place this document, it can be filed in safekeeping with the Surrogate Court. This is not a common practice but it can work for some people.

And, don’t forget, there should be copies. The disposition should not really come as a surprise to anyone. The time to offer an explanation if there would be any “hard-feelings” would be now, while you’re still alive. Explain it, and have the participants accept it, rather than be concerned about your decisions for the remainder of their lives. That’s most unfair.

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker is an author and commentator on real estate matters, if you are interested in residential or commercial properties in Mississauga, Toronto or the GTA, you may contact him through Royal LePage Innovators Realty, Brokerage 905-796-8888