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Loss of a Loved One: Who’s on Your Financial Support Team?

By Keph Senett

Published July 20, 2023 • 3 Min Read

The loss of a family member is a difficult, emotionally complex experience. You’ll want to gather a support team to help you process your feelings and bring comfort. It is equally important to have a financial support team in place. Here’s why: a death in the family often involves the transfer of wealth. From navigating wills and inheritances to making key money decisions, it is important that your financial support team can provide guide you through the process.

What happens when a family member dies

A person’s assets, such as investments, real estate, and other valuables and possessions, are often referred to as their “estate”. When someone dies, their estate goes to probate, legally validating their will. The court will decide how the estate is distributed if the deceased does not have a will.

If you are the beneficiary of an inheritance, you’ll want to consult the appropriate professionals to ensure that you understand the wishes of the deceased and that you make the best financial decisions for yourself.

Your financial support team

Receiving an inheritance is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. It is important to work with professionals to help guide you through the process and make smart and informed decisoins.

1. Executor or administrator of the estate

The executor or administrator of the estate is the person responsible for carrying out any instructions in the will. They are usually named by the deceased prior to death or appointed by a court if there is no will. If you have questions about the deceased’s wishes or intentions, you can ask this person for clarification.

2. Estate or probate attorney

This is the lawyer who is responsible for handling the legal aspects of probate, such as applying for a grant of probate, inventorying assets and debts, contacting the beneficiaries, filing all paperwork, and transferring ownership. The estate of the deceased, the executor, or a beneficiary might have an estate attorney to assist them. Probate attorneys can be especially useful if the deceased died intestate or without a will.

3. Tax professional or accountant

Canadians do not pay an inheritance tax, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tax implications to receiving an inheritance. Some assets, like investments and properties, are taxed so your own tax situation may change when you inherit. Consult with a tax professional to ensure you meet all the requirements.

4. Financial Professional

Inheriting money or assets can be exciting and confusing, especially if it’s significant enough to change your overall financial picture. You can consult with a financial consultant to help decide whether you want to invest and what you might invest in. The advisor will take into account your current financial situation and your short- and long-term money goals to come up with a solid financial plan.

5. Legacy planner

If you don’t have a will of your own, distributing your estate will likely be expensive and drawn out when you pass. Additionally, you won’t have a say in how your assets are used. A legacy planner is a specialized financial planner who will take your values and beliefs into account and help you make a succession strategy. Once you have this in hand, you can go back to your estate attorney for assistance with preparing your will.

There are many emotional and financial considerations when a family member dies. Be sure to assemble a financial support team to make sure you don’t have to go through the process alone.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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