A common question we often get from clients is how assets are taxed at death. Watch our latest video here:
Today we are going to touch on a few of the pieces of information that you need to know about different categories of assets and how they are taxed.
One thing that is important to note is that in Canada we do not have inheritance taxes, however some jurisdictions around the world do, and that may or may not apply to certain Canadian residents, depending on where assets are held.
We are going to talk specifically about Canadian resident, Canadian assets today. We are going to discuss Non-Registered Assets, Registered Accounts, and some things to be aware of with beneficiary designations on those accounts if applicable.
Many provinces and territories do apply probate fees to estates; and taxation for everybody, whether or not probate fees apply, is a really important topic to start thinking about for yourself and for your family.
On death, assets in a Non-Registered account are deemed disposed the day of death. And this will often trigger capital gains or capital losses, or both. And taxation on these gains or losses are going to be applied at the level of the estate of the individual that is deceased. Capital losses, if those are applicable, can actually be applied to any income in the year of death, and potentially other years, so speak to your accountant about that. Capital losses can be used against other forms of income, not just capital gains.
Registered accounts are eligible for beneficiaries to be designated. Many people choose to designate beneficiaries that will receive the proceeds of their registered account at death. If a rollover provision is available, such as to a spouse, there is no taxation that needs to be addressed at the time of the deceased’s passing, as the assets in the registered account will essentially rollover to the spouse at the time of death. If the beneficiary of the registered account is not the spouse or eligible for a rollover, the registered assets will still be provided to the beneficiary in full, however it is very important to note that taxation does still occur on the full value of the registered account, and at the level of the deceased.
For example, if the registered account, for round numbers is worth $100,000 on the date of death, and there are two beneficiaries for which the rollover does not apply – each beneficiary will receive $50,000, and the estate still needs to pay tax on the $100,000 of deemed income for the deceased. Keep that in mind when you apply your beneficiary designations to the registered account.
A Tax-Free Savings Account can have both a successor-holder named, which can only be one’s spouse, as well as contingent beneficiaries. It is not common that people consider adding contingent beneficiaries to a Tax-Free Savings Account if their spouse is named successor-holder already; however, we have seen many circumstances where one loses testamentary capacity later in life and their successor-holder is deceased (their spouse is deceased), and we can then no longer name or add beneficiaries to their Tax-Free Savings Account. So do consider this, and review your own designations for those accounts to ensure that your estate and beneficiary designations are up to date and where you would like them to be. Of course, a Tax-Free Savings Account does not have tax applied, so if beneficiary designations have been elected, the dollars in the Tax-Free Savings Account will be distributed accordingly with no taxation necessary at any point.
Estate planning is very complex and we have just touched on a couple of issues today. There is a lot more to it and all estate planning should be considered in the context of your goals and your objectives.