Estate Planning is not about Death

Talking about estate planning can be as exciting as watching paint dry. But it doesn’t have to be all about when you die. Here are four reasons why you should consider estate planning.

1. You want to pay less income tax today. Each time you withdraw from your retirement plan, you pay tax. There are a couple of ways to potentially reduce the tax bite. First, fill up the lower tax brackets. If you continue to wait until you die, it may be taxed in a higher tax bracket. This is evident in most RRSPs and RRIFs in Canada. A withdrawal at 22% is better than a lump sum at 40% plus.

2. You want to be in control of your retirement money. Therefore to have control, make sure you have the documents that give you control. This includes a will, power of attorney and possibly a health care directive.

3. You may want to rid yourself of “time consuming” assets. As people grow older, most want fewer problems in life, yet they often hang onto time consuming assets such as rental real estate, small business or corporations. Typically, these assets are never sold because the owners dont want to pay the capital gains tax. You may utilize strategies to defer the tax while you are alive or when you pass away. The tax has to be paid, but there are ways to defer the capital gains tax. This area you can discuss with your financial or tax advisor to find out how you can reduce tax.

4. You want to reduce liability. Many retirees sometimes confuse ownership with control. You can give up ownership yet maintain control. For example, you can transfer assets into a trust and still have control. You can transfer assets and invest them into an insurance company and have different owners or annuitants and beneficiaries. Segregated funds are used in estate planning by naming children as successor annuitants or beneficiaries while still controlling the investment today. Strategies like this can work well with second marriages amongst seniors. Notice that the payoff is usually for mom and dad and not necessarily the children. If you want more from your money today, then consider learning how an estate plan benefits you and your family.

Written by Grant Hicks

Grant Hicks, C.I.M., FCSI is a professional speaker, co-author and a Retirement Planning Specialist with Manulife Securities and Hicks Financial. A leader in the financial industry, Grant has been helping Vancouver Island residents plan and create their retirement lifestyles since 1989.

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