Estate Planning and Trusts

Trusts

Setting up a trust can play an important role in estate planning. It allows you to transfer assets to individuals or charitable organizations while maintaining control over how the assets are used, whether it’s during your lifetime (inter vivos trust) or through your Will (testamentary trust). The assets are held by a third party, the trustee.

There are many benefits to setting up a trust, as it ensures your assets are distributed to your loved ones according to your specific wishes, in a confidential, tax-effective way. If you’re considering setting up a trust, it can also be an effective way to provide income for yourself and future generations, while reducing taxes, costs and delays when distributing the assets to your beneficiaries.

We can help you set up a trust to:

  • Provide for yourself, your spouse, children or other minor family members
  • Protect the future of family members with a physical or mental disability
  • Donate to a charitable cause
  • Maintain confidentiality when it comes to your financial affairs
  • Achieve certain tax advantages

Business and Succession Planning

Estate and business planning is the process of transferring the assets of an individual to another individual or individuals. Our primary goal for succession planning is to ensure that the assets are transferred in a smooth, orderly and timely manner to another individual or individuals.

Contact us to learn more about:

  • General tax advice for trustees and executors
  • All tax reporting issues
  • Deemed disposition of an individual’s assets at the date of death
  • Account preparation for the legal passing of accounts in a court of law
  • Family trust planning
  • Succession planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Transferring personal assets to a trust

Probate and Estate Taxes

There can be multiple income tax returns to prepare and file for a deceased individual for their date of death and for the Estate subsequently. We can assist with the income tax returns that may need to be prepared and filed.

Contact us to learn more about:

  • Date of death income tax returns
  • Preparation and filing of other required income tax reporting
  • Establishing a year end for the Estate
  • T3 trust tax returns
  • General other filing and timing requirements for Trusts

Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) and Filing Requirements

Dealing with filing tax returns after the death of a loved one is very emotional and can be extremely stressful. There are multiple returns and taxes that are required to be filed and paid for both deceased taxpayers and their estates and a multitude of Trusts.

We are experienced in preparing and filing all types of Trust and Returns including the following:

  • Date of Death returns
  • Final Returns
  • Rights and Things Returns;
  • Testamentary Trusts
  • Inter-Vivos Trusts
  • Joint partner Trusts
  • Clearance Certificates

Executors and Trustees

Executors

During a very emotional time, being an executor or a trustee can be challenging, time consuming and stressful. Administering the estate will take at least one year – more likely 18 to 24 months or longer if the estate is particularly complex – but the work will be done during a period of emotional turmoil – both in grieving for the deceased and in navigating family tensions over how the estate is divided.

In addition, executors are financially liable for their mistakes and are increasingly being held to account both by beneficiaries and the courts.

Your overall responsibility as executor is to administer the estate according to the deceased’s final wishes as expressed in their Will and according to the applicable provincial law. An executor needs to control all of the assets of the deceased, to pay any debts of the deceased and to distribute the residual assets of the deceased as set out in the Will. The executor is responsible for a number of administrative tasks, including cancelling a health card, and dealing with digital assets including financial dealings and social-networking pages.

Typical Duties of an Executor:

  • Meet beneficiaries to set expectations and give them an overview of the process, from funeral to distribution
  • Arrange funeral, memorial, cremation or burial as required
  • Locate and prepare a detailed inventory of assets
  • Review insurance coverage for the assets
  • Arrange for the residence to be emptied and cleaned, locks to be changed and, if required, the property to be sold
  • Find, review and file claims for life insurance and pension benefits
  • Prepare and file up to five separate income tax returns and determine if an RRSP contribution should be made
  • Locate missing beneficiaries
  • Pay legacies and other bequests, and distribute the residue of the estate

Trustees

Choosing a trustee

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when setting up a trust is determining who will act as your trustee — the individual or trust company who will carry out your wishes and protect your financial legacy.

Who makes a good trustee?

Choosing the right trustee is essential to your peace of mind and to the preservation of the trust’s assets. Your trustee should be someone who:

  • Has expert knowledge of trusts and provincial trust laws
  • Can act reliably to administer and manage the trust on an ongoing basis
  • Has integrity, good judgment and the ability to develop empathetic relationships
  • Understands the requirements of investing trust assets which can be complex
  • Invests time to be available to beneficiaries whenever needed and for many years to come
  • Is an appropriate age, as Trusts can exist for many years