Managing your finances raises a number of topics but none as tricky and potentially unpleasant as planning for your family and finances in the event that you pass away or become incapacitated. Understandably, these questions are often ignored by many—but don’t fall into the trap of avoiding these difficult matters. Good estate planning will help to make sure that your wishes are carried out, and your family and assets are well protected.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the key areas that you should consider when designing your estate plan:
Choosing a guardian – One of the most important considerations is who you select to become the legal guardian of your children. This is a very personal and complex decision, and you will consider several unique factors depending on your circumstances, but your principal concerns might be how physically able the person is to look after your children, as well as such practical matters as how close they live to you and their personal and financial situation and stability.
Life insurance and trusts – Life insurance gives your family the financial security to continue their standard of living and fulfil their dreams in the event that you are unable to provide for them yourself. Life insurance payouts can be used in various ways, including paying off debts, paying for college education, or simply helping with general living costs.
A trust is a way of specifying how and when you wish to pass money and other resources to your children. It can be an excellent way of ensuring that their inheritance reaches them before the age of eighteen or twenty-one, unlike a court-controlled process, as you will stipulate who manages and distributes the funds.
· Choosing someone to make decisions on your behalf
It is crucial to make sure that somebody trustworthy is nominated to manage and distribute your various assets according to your wishes. This executor can be anybody, though spouses, older children, or close friends are often common choices. Similarly, if you become too sick to make your own decisions about your finances or your family’s care, a health care directive and a power of attorney will give you peace of mind and go a long way towards protecting your assets.
Now that we understand the key areas that should be considered in estate planning, here are some of the important components or documents involved in the process:
· Will, trusts, and beneficiary forms
Both a will and a trust should detail your assets and how you wish them to be distributed when you die, as well as assigning the guardians of your children. However, one benefit that a trust has over a will is that a trust does not have to go through probate prior to being executed, as well as the option of coming into effect before you pass away; it remains under your control and transfers the role of trustee to someone else when you decease.
Beneficiary forms are slightly different. They assign designated beneficiaries to specific financial accounts such as mortgages and bank accounts. As this information holds more legal weight than a will itself, it is crucial to regularly ensure that your beneficiaries are up to date.
· Durable powers of attorney
The term power of attorney refers to the person, or persons, that you nominate to act on your behalf in the event that you are too ill to state or carry out your own wishes. There are various ways to implement this; you can choose specific individuals for particular roles, such as one person to look after your finances and another to make your healthcare decisions, or you can designate one person full power of attorney to manage all of your affairs.
· A living will
Not to be confused with a last will and testament, a living will details the type of medical treatment that you wish if you were ever incapacitated. Along with a general or healthcare power of attorney (see above), this document is known as your advance health care directive, and it not only provides you with peace of mind that your medical wishes will be respected, but it also gives direction and support to your family when faced with difficult decisions about your care.
· Letter of intent
This document is not legally binding and can offer a more personal touch alongside an official will or trust. As the letter is less formal and binding than other documents, many people use it to express their wishes about more personal aspects such as their requests for funeral arrangements, or even preferences and desires for how their family should be brought up.
As with any financial arrangement, changes over time, not only in process and legislation but in your own personal situation, mean that it is imperative to keep your estate planning strategy under review and regularly updated to ensure it’s fit for its purpose and accurately reflects your wishes.
The 2019 budget is titled “Investing in the Middle Class. Here are the highlights from the 2019 Federal Budget.
We’ve put together the key measures for:
Individuals and Families
Business Owners and Executives
Retirement and Retirees
Farmers and Fishers
Individuals & Families
Home Buyers’ Plan
Currently, the Home Buyers’ Plan allows first time home buyers to withdraw $25,000 from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), the budget proposes an increase this to $35,000.
First Time Home Buyer Incentive
The Incentive is to provide eligible first-time home buyers with shared equity funding of 5% or 10% of their home purchase price through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
To be eligible:
Household income is less than $120,000.
There is a cap of no more than 4 times the applicant’s annual income where the mortgage value plus the CMHC loan doesn’t exceed $480,000.
The buyer must pay back CMHC when the property is sold, however details about the dollar amount payable is unclear. There will be further details released later this year.
Canada Training Benefit
A refundable training tax credit to provide up to half eligible tuition and fees associated with training. Eligible individuals will accumulate $250 per year in a notional account to a maximum of $5,000 over a lifetime.
Canadian Drug Agency
National Pharmacare program to help provinces and territories on bulk drug purchases and negotiate better prices for prescription medicine. According to the budget, the goal is to make “prescription drugs affordable for all Canadians.”
Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)
The budget proposes to remove the limitation on the period that a RDSP may remain open after a beneficiary becomes ineligible for the disability tax credit. (DTC) and the requirement for medical certification for the DTC in the future in order for the plan to remain open.
This is a positive change for individuals in the disability community and the proposed measures will apply after 2020.
Business Owners and Executives
Intergenerational Business Transfer
The government will continue consultations with farmers, fishes and other business owners throughout 2019 to develop new proposals to facilitate the intergenerational transfers of businesses.
Employee Stock Options
The introduction of a $200,000 annual cap on employee stock option grants (based on Fair market value) that may receive preferential tax treatment for employees of “large, long-established, mature firms.” More details will be released before this summer.
Retirement and Retirees
Additional types of Annuities under Registered Plans
For certain registered plans, two new types of annuities will be introduced to address longevity risk and providing flexibility: Advanced Life Deferred Annuity and Variable Payment Life Annuity.
This will allow retirees to keep more savings tax-free until later in retirement.
Advanced Life Deferred Annuity (ALDA): An annuity whose commencement can be deferred until age 85. It limits the amount that would be subject to the RRIF minimum, and it also pushes off the time period to just short of age 85.
Variable Payment Life Annuity (VPLA): Permit Pooled Retirement Pension Plans (PRPP) and defined contribution Registered Retirement Plans (RPP) to provide a VPLA to members directly from the plan. A VPLA will provide payments that vary based on the investment performance of the underlying annuities fund and on the mortality experience of VPLA annuitants.
Farmers and Fishers
Small Business Deduction
Farming/Fishing will be entitled to claim a small business deduction on income from sales to any arm’s length purchaser. Producers will be able to market their grain and livestock to the purchaser that makes the most business sense without worrying about potential income tax issues. This measure will apply retroactive to any taxation years that began after March 21, 2016.
To learn how the budget affects you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
This is the deadline for contributing to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) for the 2018 tax filing year. You generally have 60 days within the new calendar year to make RRSP contributions that can be applied to lowering your taxes for the previous year.
If you want to see how much tax you can save, enter your details below!
There are some great reasons to open a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to save for your retirement. Here are the top 5 reasons to open an RRSP:
Contributions are tax deductible
You can claim your RRSP contribution as a deduction on your tax return and even carry forward unused space to a future year where you may have a higher income. All of this combined means that your retirement savings pot can grow even faster.
Savings grow tax free
You won’t pay any tax on investment earnings as long as they stay in your RRSP. This tax-free compounding allows your savings to grow faster.
Convert RRSP to receive regular payments
You are able to convert the money saved in your RRSP into a RRIF or annuity when your time comes to retire. You’ll pay tax on the regular payments you receive each year- but if you’re in a lower tax bracket in retirement, you’ll pay less tax.
Spousal RRSP can reduce your combined tax
Reduce your combined tax burden. If you are married and you earn more money that your spouse, a spousal RRSP may benefit you as you can add to their tax-free savings to build a joint retirement income which is likely to mean that you pay less tax in the long run.
Borrow from RRSP to buy your first home or pay for your education
You can borrow money from your RRSP under certain conditions
If you want to buy your first home (Home Buyer’s Plan) or pay for your education (Lifelong Learning Plan), you can take out up to $25,000 (HBP) or $20,000 (LLP) respectively from your RRSP to fund it without paying tax on the withdrawals (providing that the money is paid back within the specified time).
If you are seeking ways to save in the most tax-efficient manner available, TFSAs and RRSPs can both be effective options for you to achieve your savings goals more quickly. However, each plan does have distinct differences and advantages / disadvantages. Let’s take a look at their key features:
While a TFSA can be used for any type of savings, an RRSP is used exclusively for retirement savings.
You can enjoy tax free withdrawals from your TFSA due to the fact that you make your contributions after you have paid tax, whereas the opposite is true for withdrawals from your RRSP (except in the case of lifelong learning plan and home buyers’ plan)
TFSA contributions aren’t tax deductible whereas RRSP contributions are i.e. with an RRSP, you can deduct the contributions that you make from your income when you file your tax return.
It is required that you use earned income to contribute towards your RRSP but this is not the case for your TFSA.
You can continue to contribute towards your TFSA for as long as you like, whereas you must close your RRSP and stop contributing towards it when you turn 71 and purchase an annuity or convert it to a RRIF with the savings that you have made within the plan.
You are able to specify your spouse as your beneficiary with both your TFSA and your RRSP, however there is a key difference with how your savings are treated upon your spouse’s death. With an RRSP, there will be taxes payable upon the monies left in the plan by your children who inherit it, whereas with a TFSA, tax is only paid on the increase in the value of the plan since the date of death in the year that it is inherited by your children. What’s more, no tax is payable if the value that they receive is less than the value of the TFSA at the time of death.
In summary, your individual circumstances will dictate which plan is the most appropriate for you, depending on your tax position and withdrawal intentions. The primary difference between both plans is the timing of the taxes payable i.e. if you want to defer the payment of your taxes, particularly if your marginal tax rate will be lower in retirement, an RRSP may be more beneficial for you. Alternatively, if your marginal tax rate will be higher when you plan to make withdrawals, a TFSA may suit you better.