When family wealth is at stake, parents may wish to encourage their children to enter into a domestic contract with their partners. The purpose may include to protect significant gifts and inheritances, a home owned at date of marriage, or a family business. With divorce rates at an all time high and the largest anticipated wealth transfer in Canada's history of approximately $750 billion to millennials over the next several decades, these issues are a growing concern for many families.
One of the increasing challenges facing parents and other family members today is achieving success in their estate planning - passing on their wealth well. But how should we define "success". From a professional viewpoint, much of estate planning focuses on ensuring a tax and cost-efficient transition of wealth to future generations and primarily focuses on financial aspects. But in doing so, have we lost sight of the forest for the trees? What is the overarching purpose of passing on wealth? Is it just about the money?
In estate planning, a parent typically wishes to provide for their children and each child's family. However, this desire to benefit the child's family often has a caveat: the child's spouse should not receive any part of the inheritance in the event of separation or divorce.
One of the interesting changes in our modern age when it comes to succession on death is that for many people, most of what they pass to their family and others will not be through their will, but instead by a "will substitute" such as life insurance. Many persons have term policies with a death benefit far greater than the assets accumulated during their life.
July 1, 2017 is not only Canada's 150th birthday and a cause for great celebration, which we are eagerly looking forward to. It is also the date that Canadian financial institutions must have in place appropriate procedures to provide information to Canada Revenue Agency on financial accounts held by non-residents of Canada, which will begin in 2018.
Putting estate planning documents in place can be a daunting task, but it does not end there. Estate planning is an organic process that requires ongoing attention and revision. Circumstances in your life will continue to change and your main objective is to ensure that your wishes and intentions are properly reflected in your plan and documents, both upon incapacity or death. What meets your financial and personal needs now may not do so in the future, so it is important to continue to review your documents, in particular when your circumstances change.
Most taxpayers know that when you sell an asset which has increased in value, the federal Income Tax Act provides that you will generally be liable for capital gains tax on the net increase in value, unless there is an applicable exemption. One exemption from capital gains tax is for a principal residence. In October of 2016, the federal government introduced draft legislation to amend the rules to restrict the application of the principal residence exemption. The amendments are aimed at stopping non-residents of Canada and real estate developers from unreasonably claiming the exemption. However, the amendments can also affect anyone who currently has or may wish to have a trust which holds a residence for a beneficiary, whether or not they are tax resident in Canada.
On April 26, 2017, with great fan-fare, the White House announced bold proposals for tax reform, the primary objective of which is to stimulate economic growth. These reforms could be a real game-changer if they succeed in creating new jobs, fuelling economic expansion, and making the U.S. more competitive - and dare I say it ...making America great again.
One of the issues of increasing concern to parents is having that family wealth conversation.
A well drafted will is not worth the (stack of) paper it is written on if it fails to achieve the client's objectives. Those objectives are often defeated where an estate plan is not properly designed, implemented, or maintained.