Death: losing a loved one

When you lose a loved one, finances are the last thing you want to think about. And that's the way it should be. Take the time to grieve, and know that you don't have to grieve alone. Beyond family and friends, there are counseling services available in most communities to help you through the grieving process. You'll find nearby counseling centres in the Yellow Pages or through your regional portal web site. Or contact your family doctor or local hospital for help.

Planning finances for the living

At some point, though, you'll have to resolve a number of financial issues. If the deceased was a key provider, you may be worried about how the loss of income will affect you and your family. You'll also want to know if there is life insurance and who are the listed beneficiaries of RRSPs and RRIFs. And what about jointly held property and other assets? If no beneficiaries are named, assets may simply become part of the estate.

Resolving the estate

The deceased hopefully has left a valid, up-to-date will and named an executor. If so, your most important first step is to contact the executor, ensuring that the executor is aware of the death. Where there is no will or you've been named executor, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

As part of the administration of an estate, a final income tax return must be completed for the deceased. It must account for all the income of the deceased, and taxes must be paid on that income, including any capital gains accrued on the deceased's assets. The complexities of a final tax return may make it a good idea for you to have a tax accountant complete it. Only after completing a final return and paying taxes can the final value of the estate be calculated for distribution to the beneficiaries named in the will.

To help you begin the process of dealing with an estate, the following documents may be of assistance.

Asking us for help

The loss of a loved one can leave you feeling alone. The fact is your community is full of people and organizations waiting to offer you support. You only have to ask. Ask us, for example. From executing a will to supporting non-profit organizations that counsel the bereaved, Vancity is here to help you find the resources that will assist you through this difficult time. For estate planning guidance, please contact estateplanning@vancity.com or 778.231.2118.

 

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