Do you know what probate is? In this video, Kelley Doerksen, CFP® explains what it is as well as when and why it might be needed. You will also learn about some of the outcomes that happen whether you apply for it or not.
Watch the video here:
We are going to discuss probate – when and why it might be needed and some of the outcomes of obtaining probate or not.
Probate is simply the process of applying to the courts to validate the will of the deceased. The will does give the executor the authority to administer the estate, however probate can be really important to again, validate with certainty that the will is the final will of the deceased and the executor has full authority.
Many financial institutions will not allocate out assets according to a will alone, especially if there are no named beneficiaries; so for a non-registered account, etc. there often needs to be a process of going through probate in order for those institutions to feel confident that the residuals or the assets being provided are going to the proper beneficiaries and the executor has the authority to request this.
So, for some estates, probate is not necessary, but for many estates it is.
Probate also starts a period of time for a limitation where those who might want to challenge the validity of the will, will have the time and an end point with which to do that. If probate is not applied for, the limitation period never starts, and so therefore, it theoretically does not end either.
Probate fee planning can be an important component of your overall estate plan. In Alberta, of course, probate fees are insignificant, however in other provinces, namely Ontario and BC, probate fees can be quite significant.
Be careful when you are working with probate fee planning or your goal might be to eliminate probate fees in your estate because there can be unintended consequences for your estate and beneficiaries, by engaging in probate fee planning.
Probate fee planning should be part of your overall estate planning goals and objectives, and your financial planner can help you understand and maybe even project out what your outcomes would be by trying to accomplish your probate fee planning you have in mind; and perhaps provide you with some alternatives or other suggestions if the outcome is not what you intend.
Absolutely vital to estate planning, of course, is writing a valid will with a lawyer who understands your goals and objectives. Including your financial planner and involving them in the conversations with your lawyer can be beneficial in understanding by both parties and yourself how you would like to see your goals accomplished.
If you would like us to be involved, or have any questions about how your beneficiary designations or other goals and objectives for your estate needs are going to be met, please reach out to us and we are happy to help.
Today we are sharing a charitable giving strategy that can be implemented as part of your overall estate plan.
Watch our video here:
This strategy involves donating life insurance policies and there are two primary methods of doing so.
The first way to do so is to purchase the life insurance policy with yourself as the owner as well as the insured, and name the charity that you would like the insurance policy to pay out to, as the beneficiary.
This method will provide you with a tax benefit at death. The benefit can be used in your year of death against your income for that year of death, up to 100% of your income in the year of death. As well, if the credits have not been used through in that year of death, credits can be used in the year previous. Again, up to 100% of income in the year prior to death.
A benefit of this method is that if you decide you would like to name a different charity as beneficiary, it is under your control to do so. All you need to do is fill out a beneficiary change form and make the adjustment. So you have a lot more flexibility with this method.
A second method for donating life insurance, is where you as the life insured are the insured on the policy, and the charity is the owner of the policy.
This method allows the charity to provide you with a tax receipt as you are paying premiums, and therefore, your benefit happens while living and helps you reduce your tax on your income while you are alive.
This strategy is beneficial for the charity; it also is beneficial for some clients who find that they need more tax benefit while they are alive, rather than the benefit to their estate, for a variety of reasons.
The downside to this strategy is that the charity remains owner of the policy, and you cannot change ownership of the policy to another charity. So, you need to be very confident that you have chosen a charity that you would like to support, and that they are going to use the proceeds of the policy in a manner that you deem suitable on your death. It can be a good idea to talk to the charity and have them write a letter of understanding for example, outlining that the use of the proceeds of the policy will be in line with what your goals and objectives are.
The benefit is that using that charity receipt while living can obviously help reduce your tax owing through your retirement (which is often when clients put this in place).
If you have any questions about or have any interest in learning about how using a life insurance policy to benefit charities can be suitable for you, please reach out.
The first thing to note is that RDSP accounts are a tax-sheltered account. And that means that the assets within the account can grow without needing to pay tax on the growth of the investments until such time as withdrawals are made on the account.
Another thing to note about the withdrawals is that not all of the dollars that you withdraw from an RDSP are taxable.
Contributions made to the RDSP account won’t be taxed as they have already been tax paid dollars that are going into the account. It will just be the grants and the growth and any bonds that are paid into the account which would be taxed on withdrawal.
Another piece of information about RDSP taxation is that the assets in an RDSP are sheltered from provincial assistance programs. Most programs have an asset limit with which a person eligible for Disability Tax Credit can accumulate assets. And in Alberta, AISH does not allow individuals to hold assets greater than $100,000 currently, however RDSP dollars do not count towards that $100,000 limit.
RDSPs are taxed when withdrawn, but again the taxation is only going to be occurring on grants, growth and bonds. And when those withdrawals are made, the withdrawals do not affect federal income-tested benefits such as guaranteed income supplement or old age security.
When withdrawals are made from the RDSP account, the withdrawals are going to be a proportionate representation of contributions, grants, bonds, and income in the account; and so you will be taxed accordingly on those withdrawals.
Withdrawals made within 10 years of the most recent grant or bond, should be avoided whenever possible because they will trigger a claw back of a proportionate amount of the grant and bond.
You may also be wondering what occurs on the death of the beneficiary of the RDSP account. If a grant or bond has been paid into the account within 10 years at death, those grants and bonds would need to be repaid to the government. But if 10 years has elapsed since the last grant or bond has been paid, the proceeds of the RDSP account in full would form part of the beneficiary’s estate.
If the beneficiary of the RDSP does have testamentary capacity, it is recommended that a will is drawn up so that the proceeds of those assets in the RDSP and others can be distributed according to the terms of the will.
And it is also important to know that an RDSP does not replace a disability trust for the beneficiary.
If there is an inheritance contemplated for your family member that has access to the Disability Tax Credit, there can be some trust planning done around any inheritance that you may desire to provide to that beneficiary. And it is important that you speak to a lawyer when contemplating that as part of your own estate planning objectives.
RDSPs can be complex vehicles, but so valuable and important to your family and to the financial future of the beneficiary of that plan. If you have any questions, please reach out to us and we’re happy to discuss.
The recently introduced First Home Savings Account (FHSA) offers an opportunity to tax-shelter money to be used for a home purchase for eligible participants.
For clients who wish to help their adult children (over age 18) save for a house, gifting money to be contributed to this account has many benefits for your adult child. Contributions create a tax-deduction for the owner of the account (your adult child), which can be deducted when contributed or carried forward to use in future years when income will be higher.
Contributions grow within the account tax-free, and are withdrawn tax-free for the purchase of a home.
The account balance must be used within 15 years of opening the account to purchase a home, however if it is not, it can be added to the account owner’s RRSP, even if they do not have room available.
There is an annual contribution limit of $8,000, and a lifetime limit of $40,000. Unused contribution room can be carried forward for use in future years.
Use of the FHSA does not preclude an individual from also using the Home Buyers Plan (HBP) with their personal RRSP accounts.
This is Part 2 in our 3-part series on RDSP accounts or Registered Disability Savings Plans.
Today we are talking about working with RDSPs.
RDSPs are an effective way to save for your child’s financial future, or for your own if you are age of majority.
RDSPs can be started if you are eligible for the disability tax credit.
Contributions can be made to an RDSP up to a lifetime maximum of $200,000. Grants can also be earned in an RDSP – the government will contribute up to $70,000. Bonds can be paid into an RDSP from the government as well and bonds can be paid up to $20,000. Bonds are based on income – family income or your personal individual income; and it is a lower income threshold than grant contributions. You can consult the current legislation for the amount of income on an annual basis. Grants will be paid to an RDSP based on contributions and can be paid up to 300% of any contribution that has been made.
A contribution can attract up to $3,500 of grant money with a $1,500 contribution if family income is under, currently, about $100,000. And that can be collected back on years that grants may not have been applied for or one was eligible, but did not open an RDSP in time. You can go back up to 10 years to collect unearned but eligible grants in an RDSP.
RDSP withdrawals are designed such that an RDSP is kept open for the long-term financial security of the beneficiary of the RDSP. If withdrawals are made within 10 years of a grant or bond being paid into the account, there can be a proportionate claw back on withdrawals, and grants and bonds may need to be paid back to the government to some extent. Therefore, waiting for 10 years before withdrawals are made, is usually a really effective way to maintain the integrity of the account.
When withdrawals are made, you can withdraw in two formats. One is a Disability Assistance Payment or a DAP, and that’s a one-time lump sum withdrawal that might be made. An LDAP or a Lifetime Disability Assistance Payment is made or has to be started by the time the beneficiary is age 60. And it’s an annual recurring amount that needs to be withdrawn on a regular basis. There are some minimum and maximum requirements on an LDAP withdrawal, and it is dependent on a number of factors within the RDSP account.
You may be wondering what the difference is between a holder of an RDSP and the beneficiary. The holder of the RDSP is the individual who makes the decisions on the account. The beneficiary is the one who receives the benefit of the RDSP account. Many times the holder and the beneficiary are the same individual, but that is not always the case. For example, if the beneficiary is a minor, oftentimes the parents or guardian will be the holder of the RDSP account. And grants and bonds will be based on any income of the beneficiary’s family or parents in that circumstance. When the beneficiary and holder are the same individual, the beneficiary has to be at least 18 years of age and has to have capacity to make decisions on their own.
Parents can maintain the holder status on their child’s RDSP account, even if the child is 18 years of age or older, if the parent is the legal guardian of the child still.
RDSPs can be some of the most important dollars that families save for their loved ones, but they are also very complex. If you have any further questions, please reach out to us and we’re happy to discuss.
This is a three-part series in which we review RDSP Accounts (or Registered Disability Savings Plans). Today we are going to discuss the basics of RDSPs.
So, who are Registered Disability Savings Plans for? They are designed for people who receive the disability tax credit, and an RDSP can be opened when you are eligible for the disability tax credit. It can be opened either for yourself if you are the holder and beneficiary and are age 18 or older or it can be opened by a parent or guardian of a beneficiary who is under the age of 18.
An RDSP is designed for long-term savings to provide financial security to individuals who qualify for the disability tax credit.
One of the best features of the Registered Disability Savings Plan is that it is eligible for really significant grants and bonds from the government.
If an individual is able to make a contribution of $1,500 – depending on family income, there can be grants of up to $3,500 or 300% of the contribution that has been made.
Bonds can also be paid into an RDSP account – they are not based on contributions, but they are based on a family income that is quite a bit lower than that of grants.
The amount of income that grants and bonds are eligible based on changes every year, so consult your Financial Planner for the current year income amounts.
Grants and bonds can be earned up to the age of 49. If an individual was eligible for the disability tax credit, but perhaps had not applied or was not aware that the RDSP was available, you can actually make contributions and earn back grants from previous years of eligibility that have not been earned yet – and you can go back up to 10 years.
In a circumstance where you are catching up on grants that you were eligible for but have not claimed, you can contribute up to $4,500 and receive grants of up to $10,500. Bonds will be paid as well on years where one was eligible, but not earning bonds; and bonds do not require a contribution, so simply opening an RDSP while eligible is an effective way to receive some money from the government.
There are up to $70,000of grants that are available for a lifetime as well as $20,000 of bonds that are available for a lifetime. An individual can contributeup to $200,000 to an RDSP in their name.
Withdrawals can be made from an RDSP at any time, but it is best to wait 10 years so that grants and bonds are not clawed back proportionately – we will discuss this concept in more depth in part two of this series.
RDSPs can be opened with any major financial institution – we can open them with our Custodians as well. Grants and bonds are paid into the RDSP shortly after contributions are made. Once we have opened the account, it is simply a matter of submitting the application to the government body – your Financial Planner and Portfolio Management team will assist with this process.
RDSP accounts are an effective way to save for your loved one’s financial security and future. We will review some of the finer details of RDSP accounts in part two of this series.
If you have questions or would like to discuss opening an RDSP account, please reach out to us.