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Estate Planning & Its Advantages
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Estate planning is about the life of your family and loved ones – and the peace of mind you get from helping to preserve their financial security. Property planning is a difficult subject to discuss by its very nature, – even more so to plan for because it forces us to come to terms with our own mortality. Yet it’s something you need to talk about openly with your loved ones today because you can’t do so after you’re gone – or after they’re gone. Each person will approach estate planning differently, with personal motivations and expectations. No estate plan will be exactly like another. Estate planning should be a reflection of your personal priorities and choices.
Estate planning advantages
? It distributes your assets as you intended; provides funds to cover funeral expenses, as well as immediate and/or long-term family living costs
? Keeps more of your money in the hands of your heirs
? Minimizes income tax and probate fees (no probate fees in Quebec); designates charitable gifts; declares your personal care preferences, including terminal medical treatment and organ donation intentions
? Provides for the tax advantages of income splitting
? Ensures business continuity for business owners
? Identifies the people chosen to carry out your last wishes and care for your children
Generally, Canada is viewed as a country with no estate tax. While that's true, what many people don't realize is that a deemed disposition tax, which is similar to an estate tax, applies when you die. Deemed disposition tax is so-named because your investments are deemed to be sold at death. Any capital gains triggered by their sale are included in a final income tax return filed in the year of death. A final tax return also includes the value of any retirement accounts and income received from stocks, bonds, real estate investments and even life insurance proceeds in the year of death, from January 1 up to the date of death. With Canadian federal income tax rates of up to 29%, this final taxation can be substantial. Provincial taxes and probate fees also apply.
The good news is the tax is deferred if the assets are transferred to a surviving spouse. Taxes are deferred even if the assets are held in a spousal trust, which provides income to the surviving spouse. However, if the spouse sells the assets, then the tax applies. When the spouse dies and the assets are passed on to other heirs, 50% of the capital gains of any stocks, bonds, real estate investments and other assets are taxable at the personal income tax rate.
Property planning is a complex matter so you can take help of a professional. Working closely with your Toronto tax accountant, you’ll find the estate planning process to be liberating. It will provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved ones will not be burdened by resolving your personal and financial affairs.
Josep Guardiola is a chartered accountant who practices as an independent toronto tax accountant. He also author of estate planning, in this article he provides real estate tax tips. For more information you can visit Taxca.com.
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