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Sheila Jarvis, regional vice-president for National Bank Private Banking 1859, Ontario, says the pandemic has forced more people to delve into legacy planning.STEPH MARTYNIUK

National Bank Private Banking 1859′s Sheila Jarvis says gifting wealth while alive can have a positive impact

An aging population and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have compelled more people to consider their mortality.

“It has people reflecting on things like, ‘What happens when I’m gone? What will my legacy be?’” says Sheila Jarvis, regional vice-president for National Bank Private Banking 1859, Ontario.

But legacy planning can be a delicate subject to broach given complex family dynamics, emotions and values — while also touching on issues such as financial, estate and tax planning, business transfer, insurance and philanthropy.

That’s where the Private Banking 1859 team can assist: Team members provide personalized wealth and legacy planning services to successful executives, professionals, entrepreneurs and their families.

Consider giving while you’re still living

The pandemic has prompted many people to revisit their personal and professional goals. “A lot of business owners and entrepreneurs are saying, ‘maybe I’ll retire early. Maybe I’ll start gifting money to my kids and my community now.’”

Many are becoming interested in passing money onto children and charities while they are still alive — a shift that allows them to see the impact of their gift. Transferring capital now can also have tax consequences and benefits — and save on probate fees down the road.

A common concern people have when bequeathing money while they’re still alive is having enough funds to maintain their lifestyle and support future care needs. Ms. Jarvis says experts at Private Banking 1859 can help ease these fears by helping people develop a plan that fits their individual circumstances.

Legacy planning should be part of a holistic plan

A key part of wealth planning is helping clients determine what kind of legacy they want to leave, Ms. Jarvis says.

“During legacy planning discussions, we help our clients articulate their needs and concerns; we develop a strong, trusted relationship,” she says. “They’re thinking about the next step.”

It’s a good way for people to consider issues surrounding their estate, Ms. Jarvis adds, starting with a comprehensive wealth plan.

“It’s not one piece in isolation; it’s a broader conversation about how everything fits together.”

Legacy planning starts with deep reflection and conversation

Ms. Jarvis strongly recommends that people communicate openly and frankly about legacy planning and that they articulate their family values and wishes.

“That opens the door for a clearer conversation and breaks down the barriers,” she says.

Unique family dynamics also shouldn’t be underestimated when decisions are made regarding gifting money, Ms. Jarvis adds.

Clear communication can help to ensure there’s no misunderstanding among family members, which can reduce the risk of disputes or even litigation down the road.

Ms. Jarvis says her team is often part of those family conversations.

An integrated, customized approach that takes into consideration your specific situation is key to navigating the complete family wealth-planning process.

Ms. Jarvis

“We’re an unbiased, third party,” she explains, facilitating discussions, asking key questions, and raising important points. “It’s not just the family having a conversation; we’re asking them: ‘Yes, but have you thought about this? What happens if you make that decision? Are you comfortable with that? Does this fit with your values?’”

The biggest challenge of legacy planning is that it’s hard to get people to open up about the topic of death, Ms. Jarvis says.

“There’s fear and worry and a bit of apprehension, which are completely natural human emotions.”

In the end, she says focusing on the specifics of legacy planning can bring families closer.

The importance of seeking expert advice

Building your legacy with a trusted team of professionals can provide peace of mind, while avoiding unintended consequences.

“An integrated, customized approach that takes into consideration your specific situation is key to navigating the complete family wealth-planning process,” Ms. Jarvis says.

Her team of 15 people and counting includes senior private bankers, investment counsellors, support professionals, credit underwriters, wealth and estate planners as well as expert partners for trust, philanthropy and insurance.

“We bring the entire bank to our clients,” which she says sets Private Banking 1859 apart from other major players in the field.

“It’s more of a boutique approach to private banking. We’re a full-service integrated team and our focus is people.”

Learn more at Private Banking 1859

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with National Bank. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.