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Document your life changes

Life changes often. Marriages begin and end, children are born and grow, you are employed for years and then you retire – and at each step along the way, you must document those changes. There are certain important documents in your life – more than you may realize. These dictate who gets your financial support while you’re alive and how your legacy will be distributed when you’re gone. Each time there is a change in your life, those documents need to be updated.

Here are a few to consider.

Budgets: Review the sources of income and expenses for you and a new partner and update your family budget as necessary.

Properties: Update property ownerships. Speak to your legal advisors regarding ways to hold title to property in a way that benefits your children and carries out your wishes.

Financial plans: If you and a new partner have separate financial plans, update to a cohesive plan that will best help attain your new family’s objectives.

Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs): Ensure RESPs are in place for every child who does not already have one.

Beneficiaries: Update the beneficiaries of your life insurance policies and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs).

Wills: Update your will right away. If you die without an updated will, your estate may be divided without regard for your wishes, your assets may be frozen while distributions are determined, you may inadvertently disinherit some children, and your heirs may have to pay more taxes.

Power of attorney (POA) and power of attorney for personal care: A POA is the designate for your financial affairs should you become incapacitated. A power of attorney for personal care (sometimes referred to as a living will or health care directive) explicitly authorizes your designate to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf.

Personal representative: Sometimes called an executor or liquidator (in Québec), this designate will administer your estate when you die. Update your designate as needed, selecting a capable individual who will also make the more sensitive decisions involving your family.

When it comes to documenting your life changes, you have a lot of decisions to make. Professional and legal advisors can help you make the best decisions now and in the future.

Date reviewed: October 20, 2014

This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Quebec – a Financial Services Firm), presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Contact a financial advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. For more information on this topic please contact your Investors Group Consultant.