Do you need an estate plan?

Managing your finances raises a number of topics but none as tricky and potentially unpleasant as planning for your family and finances in the event that you pass away or become incapacitated. Understandably, these questions are often ignored by many—but don’t fall into the trap of avoiding these difficult matters. Good estate planning will help to make sure that your wishes are carried out, and your family and assets are well protected.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the key areas that you should consider when designing your estate plan:

  • Choosing a guardian – One of the most important considerations is who you select to become the legal guardian of your children. This is a very personal and complex decision, and you will consider several unique factors depending on your circumstances, but your principal concerns might be how physically able the person is to look after your children, as well as such practical matters as how close they live to you and their personal and financial situation and stability.

  • Life insurance and trusts – Life insurance gives your family the financial security to continue their standard of living and fulfil their dreams in the event that you are unable to provide for them yourself. Life insurance payouts can be used in various ways, including paying off debts, paying for college education, or simply helping with general living costs.

 

A trust is a way of specifying how and when you wish to pass money and other resources to your children. It can be an excellent way of ensuring that their inheritance reaches them before the age of eighteen or twenty-one, unlike a court-controlled process, as you will stipulate who manages and distributes the funds.

·      Choosing someone to make decisions on your behalf

It is crucial to make sure that somebody trustworthy is nominated to manage and distribute your various assets according to your wishes. This executor can be anybody, though spouses, older children, or close friends are often common choices. Similarly, if you become too sick to make your own decisions about your finances or your family’s care, a health care directive and a power of attorney will give you peace of mind and go a long way towards protecting your assets.

Now that we understand the key areas that should be considered in estate planning, here are some of the important components or documents involved in the process:

·      Will, trusts, and beneficiary forms

Both a will and a trust should detail your assets and how you wish them to be distributed when you die, as well as assigning the guardians of your children. However, one benefit that a trust has over a will is that a trust does not have to go through probate prior to being executed, as well as the option of coming into effect before you pass away; it remains under your control and transfers the role of trustee to someone else when you decease.

 

Beneficiary forms are slightly different. They assign designated beneficiaries to specific financial accounts such as mortgages and bank accounts. As this information holds more legal weight than a will itself, it is crucial to regularly ensure that your beneficiaries are up to date.

 

·      Durable powers of attorney

The term power of attorney refers to the person, or persons, that you nominate to act on your behalf in the event that you are too ill to state or carry out your own wishes. There are various ways to implement this; you can choose specific individuals for particular roles, such as one person to look after your finances and another to make your healthcare decisions, or you can designate one person full power of attorney to manage all of your affairs.

 

·      A living will

Not to be confused with a last will and testament, a living will details the type of medical treatment that you wish if you were ever incapacitated. Along with a general or healthcare power of attorney (see above), this document is known as your advance health care directive, and it not only provides you with peace of mind that your medical wishes will be respected, but it also gives direction and support to your family when faced with difficult decisions about your care.

 

·      Letter of intent

This document is not legally binding and can offer a more personal touch alongside an official will or trust. As the letter is less formal and binding than other documents, many people use it to express their wishes about more personal aspects such as their requests for funeral arrangements, or even preferences and desires for how their family should be brought up.

As with any financial arrangement, changes over time, not only in process and legislation but in your own personal situation, mean that it is imperative to keep your estate planning strategy under review and regularly updated to ensure it’s fit for its purpose and accurately reflects your wishes. 

2019 Ontario Budget

2019 Ontario Budget

The 2019 budget for Ontario was announced by Vic Fedeli, Finance Minister, giving details of a deficit of $11.7 billion for 2018-19 and $10.3 billion for 2019-20. Below are details of the key changes in relation to personal and corporate finances.

Personal

The budget did not announce changes to personal tax rates.

Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit

Effective the 2019 tax year, the budget introduces a new refundable Ontario Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) personal income tax credit, beginning with the 2019 tax year.

The tax credit will be based on the taxpayer’s family income and eligible child care expenses. It will provide the following tax credit per child up to:

  • $6,000 under the age of 7

  • $3,750 between age 7 to 16

  • $8,250 with a severe disability

The new credit will be calculated as the amount of eligible child care expenses multiplied by the credit rate shown below. The credit is eliminated when family income is greater than $150,000.

For 2019 and 2020, the taxpayers may claim the new tax credit on their tax returns. In 2021, Ontario intends to allow families to apply for regular advance payments.

Estate administration tax

Effective Jan 1, 2020 the budget eliminates the Estate Administration Tax on the first $50,000 of an estate’s value and extends the filing deadline of the Estate Administration Tax Information Return with the Ministry of Finance to 180 days (from 90 days) after the receipt of an estate certificate, and extends the deadline for filing amended information returns to 60 days (from 30 days).

Review of property tax assessment system

The province will review the property tax assessment system.

Addressing tax loopholes and tax integrity

The province has created a specialized unit of tax experts to find and address tax loopholes and abuse.

Corporate

The budget did not announce changes to the provincial corporate rate.

Ontario interactive digital media tax credit

The budget reduces the minimum Ontario labour expenditure to qualify as a specialized digital game corporation to $500,000 (from $1 million.)

Review

The budget will review the Ontario Innovation Tax Credit, other research and development incentives and cultural media tax credit certification process.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about how the budget will affect you.

Tax Planning Tips for End of 2018

Now that we are nearing year end, it’s a good time to review your finances. 2018 saw a number of major changes to tax legislation come in force and more will apply in 2019, therefore you should consider available opportunities and planning strategies prior to year-end.

Below, we have listed some of the key areas to consider and provided you with some useful tips to make sure that you cover all of the essentials.

Key Tax Deadlines for 2018 Savings

December 31, 2018:

  • Medical expenses

  • Fees for union and professional memberships

  • Charitable gifts

  • Investment counsel fees, interest and other expenses relating to investments

  • Student loan interest payments

  • Political contributions

  • Deductible legal fees

  • Some payments for child and spousal support

  • If you reached the age of 71 in 2018, contributions to your RRSP

January 30, 2019

  • Interest on intra-family loans

  • Interest you must pay on employer loans, to reduce your taxable benefit

February 14, 2019

  • Expenses relating to personal car reimbursement to your employer

March 1, 2019

  • Contributions to provincial labour-sponsored venture capital corporations

  • Deductible contributions to a personal or spousal RRSP

Family Tax Issues
  • Check your eligibility to the Canada Child Benefit
    In order to receive the Canada Child Benefit in 2019/20, you need to file your tax returns for 2018 because the benefit is calculated using the family income from the previous year. Eligibility depends on set criteria such as your family’s income and the number and age of your children and you may qualify for full or partial amount.

  • Consider family income splitting
    The CRA offers a low interest rate on loans and it therefore makes sense to consider setting up an income splitting loan arrangements with members of your family, whereby you can potentially lock in the family loan at a low interest rate of 2% and subsequently invest the borrowed monies into a higher return investment and benefit from the lower tax status of your family member. Don’t forget to adhere to the new Tax on Split Income rules.

  • Have you sold your main residence this year?
    If so, your 2018 personal tax return must include information regarding the sale or you may lose any “principal residence” exemptions on the capital gains from the sale and thus make the sale taxable.

  • If you’re moving, think carefully about your moving date
    If you are moving to a new province, it’s worth noting that your residence at December 31, 2018 is likely to be the one that your taxes are due to for the whole of the 2018 year. Therefore, if your move is to a province with higher taxes, putting your move off until 2019 may therefore make sense, and vice versa if you are moving to a lower tax province.

Managing Your Investments
  • Use up your TFSA contribution room
    If you are able, it’s worth contributing the full $5,500 to your TFSA for 2018. You can also contribute more (up to $57,500) if you are 27 or older and haven’t made any previous TFSA contributions.

  • Check if you have investments in a corporation
    The new passive investment income rules apply to tax years from 2018 and you therefore need to plan ahead if the rules affect you. They state that the small business deduction is reduced for companies which are affected with between $50,000 and $150,000 of investment income, therefore the small business deduction has been stopped completely for corporations which earn passive investment income of more than $150,000.

  • Think about selling any investments with unrealized capital losses
    It might be worth doing this before year-end in order to apply the loss against any net capital gains achieved during the last three years. Any late trades should ideally be completed on or prior to December 21, 2018 and subsequently confirmed with your broker. Conversely, if you have investments with unrealized capital gains which are not able to be offset with capital losses, it may be worth selling them after 2018 in order to be taxed on the income the following year.

Estate and Retirement Planning
  • Make the most of your RRSP
    The deadline for making contributions to your RRSP for the year 2018 is March 1, 2019. There are three things that affect how much you may contribution towards your RRSP, as follows:

    • 18% of your previous year’s earned income

    • Up to a maximum of $26,230 for 2018 and $26,500 for 2019

    • Your pension adjustment

Remember that deducting your RRSP contribution reduces your after-tax cost of making said contribution.

  • Check when your RRSP is due to end
    You should wind-up your RRSP if you reached the age of 71 during 2018 and your final contributions should be made by December 31, 2018.

Other Considerations
  • Make your personal tax instalments
    If you pay your final 2018 personal tax instalment by December 15, 2018, you won’t pay interest or penalty charges. Similarly, if you are behind on these instalments, you should try to make “catch-up” payments by that date. You can also offset part or all of the non-deductible interest that you would have been assessed if you make early or additional instalment payments.

  • Remember the deadline for making a taxpayer-relief request
    The deadline is December 31, 2018 for making a tax-payer relief request related to the 2008 tax year.

  • Consider how to minimize the taxable benefit for your company car
    The taxable benefit applied to company cars is comprised of two parts – a stand-by charge and an operating-cost benefit. If you drive a company car, it’s worth considering how to potentially minimize both of these elements. The taxable benefit for operating costs is $0.26 per km of personal use, therefore you should make sure that you reimburse your employer where relevant, by the deadline of February 14, 2019.

Contact us if you have any questions, we can help.

Ontario Budget 2018

The 2018 Ontario budget features a number of new measures and billions of dollars of enhanced spending across the spectrum, as announced by the province’s Finance Minister, Charles Sousa. Read on for some of the key proposals.

Personal

Eliminate Surtax

A new sliding scale for personal income tax will be introduced, with seven personal income tax rates which will be applied directly to taxable income, in an attempt to eliminate Ontario’s surtax. The province estimates that approximately 680,000 will pay less tax as a result.

Free Tuition

Access to further education will be income linked, with those families with an income of less than $90,000 per year receiving free tuition and families with an income of between $90,000 and $175,00 per year receiving financial aid for tuition costs.

Free Pre-School Child Care

Effective in the Fall of 2020, children aged two-and-a-half until they are eligible for kindergarten can receive free licensed child care. 

New Ontario Drug and Dental Program

For those without workplace benefits or not covered by OHIP+, this program offers up to 4.1 million Ontarians a benefit that pays up to 80% of expense up to a cap of $400 for a single person, up to $600 for a couple and $50 per child in a family with two children, regardless of their income.

Free Prescription Drugs

The budget announces the introduction of free prescription drugs for those aged 65 or older, resulting in an average of $240 per year in savings per senior.

Charitable Donation Tax Credit

The non-refundable Ontario Charitable Donation Tax Credit will be tweaked to increase the top rate, remaining at 5.05% for the first $200 but increasing to 17.5% for anything above $200.

Seniors’ Healthy Home Program

$750 is offered to eligible households with seniors of 75 years of age or older to help them to care for and maintain their residence.

Corporate

R&D Tax Credit

The budget introduces a non-refundable tax credit of 3.5% on eligible costs relating to R&D, or an enhanced rate of 5.5% for eligible expenditures of $1 million plus. Note that this enhanced rate would not be payable to corporations where eligible R&D expenditures in the current tax year are less than 90% of eligible R&D expenditures in the tax year before.

Innovation Tax Credit

The existing Ontario Innovation Tax Credit will see changes to its credit rate in the following way:

·      If a company has a ratio of R&D expenditures to gross revenues of 10% or less, they will continue to receive the 8% credit.

·      If their ratio is between 10% and 20%, they will receive an enhanced credit rate of between 8-12%, calculated on a straight line basis.

·      If their ratio is 20% or more, they will receive an enhanced credit rate of 12%.

Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit

Eligibility to receive this tax credit will be broadened to include film and television websites.

6 Steps to Retirement Success

Retirement planning can be challenging, we’ve outlined what we feel are 6 steps to retirement success. Talk to us about a complimentary comprehensive review of your retirement plan.

Accessing Corporate Earnings

Accessing retained earnings in a tax efficient manner can be challenging, we identify several methods to gain access to your earnings.

Vitality

In the 1940’s, insurance companies realized women live longer than men, hence the introduction of gender specific rates. In the 1980’s, the same industry found that non-smokers lived longer than smokers, therefore the introduction of smoker rates. Now for the first time in Canada a policyholder holds the power in their hands (and on their wrist) to control their insurance premiums. Sabre Strategic Partners is proud to partner with Manulife in their very exciting launch of Manulife Vitality. See the video or connect with our team for more.

Life Insurance Opportunities

Major changes are coming to life insurance, if you’re looking to apply for life insurance or review your insurance needs, this is the best time to do it. The last significant changes made to life insurance were in 1982.

Sit down with us to do a review prior to the changes coming into affect.