Estate Planning empowers your heirs
Estate Planning is a financial planning process that every responsible working person with dependents should accomplish, even if it is preparing a last will and testament and living will for health purposes.
Estate planning can empower your heirs in the following ways:
Plan to reduce taxes in your estate When transferring your assets, including mutual funds, using a will, try to pass as much value as possible to your heirs. If you hold equity mutual funds that buy and hold stocks, they may have accrued capital gains. There will be a deemed disposition of all your property at fair market value at the time of your death. For some this could mean a capital gains tax liability.
By knowing your estate tax liability List each separate asset you own, the purchase price and date, as well as its current value. Include your non-registered investments in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Have your accountant assess what the tax liability will be.
Your spouse and deferred taxes Property willed to your spouse can be rolled over tax-free on your death. Your spouse will actually inherit the assets at the unchanged adjusted cost base (cost amount) of the property. The taxation of the asset will then occur when your spouse disposes of the property or at the death of the spouse. This tax deferral is beneficial especially if you have large holdings in equity mutual funds invested for value as in large cap or blue chip stocks. Alternatively, you can choose to transfer any asset to your spouse at fair market value on death and recognize the accrued gain or loss.
RRSPs and your children Under the rules proposed in the 1999 Federal Budget, RRSPs can be transferred tax-deferred to your dependent children or grandchildren, even if a spouse survives you. Before the 1999 Federal Budget, a transfer of RRSP funds to dependent children or grandchildren would be taxable if there was a surviving spouse.
Income splitting using a testamentary trust By establishing a testamentary trust in your will, you will be able to maintain control during your lifetime over the use of your assets such as a mutual fund investment portfolio. The trust can provide guidelines for the treatment of these assets after your death. The trust document can specify the split of income among heirs. Carefully planned income splitting may allow for significant tax savings.
Assess your tax liabilities with an estate lawyer and/or accountant and make estate plans to determine how to pay them. Consider the use of life insurance where the capital gains tax liabilities are substantial.
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