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Step Two: Make a list of your beneficiaries. Think carefully about whom you are giving your assets to. Make a list of your beneficiaries, including family and non-family members, as well as any charities and other organizations you wish to support. Decide how much is going to each person and which asset it makes sense to give to whom.

Fewer Canadian businesses and consumers declared bankruptcy at the start of the year as the economy improved, with January's decline marking the biggest drop for that month in two decades.

The total number of insolvencies, which include bankruptcies and proposals, fell 6.7 per cent in January from the previous month, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy said Monday. Bankruptcies fell 9.4 per cent on a monthly basis.

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Over the past decade, insolvencies have tended to be higher in January than in December. This year, however, the drop in insolvencies in January "was the largest decrease recorded for January in 20 years," the office said.

The past year has been marked by an upswing of consumer bankruptcies, with comparably few business bankruptcies.

As the economy starts to grow again, insolvencies are slowing. Insolvencies were 2.7 per cent lower this January than in the same month last year. Consumer insolvencies fell 1.9 per cent from a year earlier while business insolvencies dropped 18.5 per cent.

In the first month of this year, 354 businesses declared bankruptcy in Canada.

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About the Author

Tavia Grant has worked at The Globe and Mail since early 2005, covering topics from employment and currency markets to trade, microfinance and Latin American economies. She previously worked for Bloomberg News in Toronto and Zurich, writing on mining, stocks, currencies and secret Swiss bank accounts. More

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