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Planning Your Legacy is Easier Than You Think

By Jeff Cummings & Carly Peters

Life comes at you fast. You graduate from college, get a job, buy a home, maybe even start a family. Before you know it, you’re planning for retirement—or probably should be! Whatever the game of life brings you, protecting your household’s future is crucial. It’s never too early to plan for the road ahead, no matter your age.

Savanna Regnier, an active 33-year-old mother and AMA member, recently purchased a home with her husband while expecting the birth of their daughter. The Edmonton couple invested in term life insurance to ensure their child would always be taken care of.

“I’m the type of person who prepares—I’m always the one thinking about the ‘what ifs,’” Regnier says.

Life insurance is one of the best ways to protect the people you care about. Your beneficiaries are supported with a tax-free payment to help them replace lost income, maintain living standards, pay debts and taxes, and cover final expenses. It can also help you leave something extra or personally meaningful to those closest to you.

Farhan Khan, a 48-year-old chef from Dubai, immigrated to Grande Prairie with his family of five in 2018. After saving up the down payment to purchase a home, getting term life insurance to protect his family was an easy decision.

“I’m saving what I have for all of my kids. I want them to have a good future,” Khan says.

AMA’s Life Insurance in a handy Q&A


Edmonton’s Regnier continues to have conversations with her husband as they draft a will for an extra layer of protection for their family. “If something ever happened to us, who would we want to take care of our daughter? Who would be the backup guardians?” she ponders. “We’re still wrapping our heads around it.”

A will is the cornerstone of any good estate plan—a critical blueprint that protects your family’s future. It lays out critical details like who will be the guardians of your children. Additionally, it dictates who gets to keep your treasured possessions, like that massive collection of vinyl records or your prized sports car.

If you have a simple estate, a DIY will like a Legal Ease Wills Kit, offered at AMA Registries, is an affordable option to help assess your life situation and create a tailored document.

“Preparing a will on your own gives you a deeper understanding of the wishes you want carried out,” says Dave Singleton, an AMA member and representative for the Legal Ease Library Inc. Also, Singleton notes that if you do prepare a will on your own, it will need signatures from two different witnesses.


Should your estate or family circumstances become more complex—say, you have a dependent who’s an adult, or you own a large estate—Singleton suggests consulting a lawyer to write the will. Here are a few tips to get started.


This person will ensure the fulfillment of your final wishes. The role can be time-consuming and, in some cases, complex. Choose someone who’s organized, pays attention to detail, has an understanding of finances, and is a good communicator. If you have a somewhat complicated estate or foresee family conflicts, consider an estates professional—like a lawyer—or name a co-executor to share the workload.


If you have dependents: Protect them. Appoint single or many guardians for children in your will. Have discussions with your potential guardians before naming them.


You can use wills to gift specific items of significance, like a motorcycle to your favourite nephew. But most personal items are often listed in a memorandum, an easy-to-understand note that should be included in a will. (Though not part of the actual will, an executor is expected to fulfill these expressed wishes.)


Debts aren’t written into a will; rather, you’re taking time to review your estate’s overall financial status so you can plan accordingly for things like taxes. Some debts—personal loan, credit cards—may become the responsibility of the estate.


Identify people who will inherit your home, other real estate, investments and savings, valuable collections and personal belongings. In addition to family and friends, you can also leave assets to charities and organizations.


In your 30s, you may look to pay down your debts and taxes, while caring for loved ones.

Meanwhile, when in your 40s and 50s, you might want to ensure your heirs receive tax-efficient bequests or put aside funds to pay for health-related costs as you age.

Lastly, in your 60s and beyond, you’ll likely include provisions for grandchildren—even those yet to be born—and forgive debts from family members.

Schedule a review of your plan every three to five years, or whenever significant life events occur.

A few things to keep in mind when planning your legacy.

For families who aren’t quite ready to sit down for a full discussion of a plan, the company offers online pre-planning seminars. To learn more or sign up, visit dignitymemorial.com.

AMA members save 10% on pre-arranged and at-need services with Dignity Memorial.