Pattie Lovett-Reid: How to avoid the pitfalls of estate planning with these four words
The transferring of wealth is full of complexities.
To suggest the importance of a formal discussion is anything but of utmost importance would be naïve. Unfortunately, all too often these conversations simply don’t happen. The risk of avoidance could result in your wealth going to the unintended.
To help ensure your family avoids some of the pitfalls associated with estate planning, I reached out to Janet Peddigrew, senior vice president, Ontario Region, of BMO Private Banking for her insights. I asked her how to avoid tensions in relationships around a sensitive subject – divorce. It could happen to your adult children who today seem happily married. But parents tend to shy away from this subject due to the anxiety it creates.
Rather than discussing divorce outright, Peddigrew suggests we replace the dreaded “d” word with four other “d” words:
1. Different. Marriage contracts are often entered into with different levels of wealth. In terms of estate planning, a marriage contract can clearly define what is a marital asset versus a personal asset.
2. Discussion. A successful marriage could be defined as a series of difficult conversation sprinkled together with enough love and fun to make the conversation acceptable.
3. Dispassionate. Conversations about prenuptial agreements are, and should be, somewhat dispassionate. It should be a matter-of-fact conversation versus a conflict. It is also important children discuss this while seeking independent legal advice.
4. Devotion. Getting married is an optimistic act of devotion, and people stay married because they want to. A prenup can be seen as an early expression of this devotion.