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The 50 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes … and How To Avoid Them

By Jean Blacklock and Sarah Kruger

Wiley; November, 2010; Paper; $24.95

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What makes your book different from others on estate planning?

I wanted to write a book that approaches estate planning from a very personal perspective. It's from the perspective that it's my will and I'm going to be in charge of my own planning, rather than looking at estate planning as something on the to-do list, along with redoing the hardwood floors.

What is the one thing in this book that's a surprise?

That it's very easy to overestimate our loved ones' ability to deal with our estate. And it's also easy to underestimate the problems that can arise when we die. When we really step away and stop [doing estate planning]in auto-pilot mode, we begin to realize that maybe the brother that we love so dearly really wouldn't be the best executor and maybe that little family feud that has been going on between the daughters-in-law does matter.

What is the one thing you would advise a reader never to do?

Mistake #14 is climbing into the back seat in our own planning. My overall advice is to really own one's own process.

Who is your idol?

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I dedicate the book to my parents, who taught me so much. As I wrote the book, I thought about a couple of their characteristics and those were responsibility and candour. From the time I was a little girl, I can remember them talking about having gone to see the lawyers and getting wills and talking about how those wills provided. I always thought that every family did that.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

I'm about 90 per cent of the way toward opening a bakery. It's opening in Toronto in the new year. So 20 years from now, I would love to still be speaking to people about making estate planning not so scary and selling cupcakes. I grew up in the Prairies and always wanted to have a bakery that uses real butter and real eggs, made fresh every day. Prairie-girl bakery is my dream.

Why we should trust her

Jean Blacklock is a lawyer and expert in wealth management, with experience as a partner in a major Canadian law firm, followed by a decade as an executive of the Bank of Montreal. She is the author of three books and this is the second she has co-written on estate planning. Her favourite baked good is red velvet cupcakes.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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