There are no estate taxes or succession duties in Canada. However, taxes upon death have not disappeared. When a person dies, there is a ‘deemed disposition’ of all capital property. What does that mean? It means that the government treats all your property (unless jointly held) such stocks, bonds, RRSPs, real estate, etc as sold at fair market value on the day of your death. Your estate will be required to pay capital gains tax on that property. This applies to your RRSP if you do not have a spouse to whom you can transfer it. Careful planning can reduce or defer the taxes owing. Without an estate plan, you could lose nearly half of the value of your gains to taxes. While your Executor may claim full personal exemptions on your final income tax return, your estate may end up paying taxes at the highest tax rate (over 50%). If you do not have a Will, or if your Will has not been updated recently, it may be a good time to get the job done to avoid tax complications.
What is Probate?
“Probate” is the recognition by the provincial court of the validity of your Will and the appointment of the person named as your Executor. Granting of the “letters probate” is notice to the public that your Will complies with the basic formal requirements and that the Will was not being challenged at the time of application.
Reducing Probate Fees
In some provinces, the Executor must apply to the court for “letters probate” in order to begin administering an estate. These fees are payable to the provincial government based on the value of certain assets in your estate. There have been increases over the years in provincial probate fees. There are ways to arrange your affairs to reduce these probate fees. Again, estate planning helps identify these issues and reduce any negative impact on your estate.
It sounds complicated!
Estate planning need not be complicated or expensive. First, who knows better than you what you want done with the things that you’ve worked all your life to build. Second, seek the professional advice of an expert to guide you on the financial and legal implications to ensure that you get the most favourable tax treatment possible.
If you do not have a Will, or if your Will has not been updated recently, perhaps it is time to meet with a lawyer and get the job done.
G Brent Powers Law Office
3715 Beck Rd D-401
St Joseph, MO 64506