Do you know what happens to your estate after you pass away? After death, your executor is responsible for securing all your assets, paying your debts, and applying for probate. Although there isn’t an estate tax in Canada, there are other fees that exist to process and probate your will. And, like all other debts, income tax has to be paid by the estate before people can inherit the assets. Luckily, estate planning can help to reduce the probate and fees associated with your will. Here’s what you need to know.
When is Probate Required?
Your executor will need to apply for probate if you pass away with any outstanding debts. This is also necessary if there’s any property that's not being passed on to a spouse or common-law partner, or if there are any accounts or investments without a beneficiary. Probate is also recommended to prove the executor is the appropriate person to carry out your last testament and to provide institutions with the proof needed in case your will is contested. To apply, the executor will need to visit the province’s probate court and pay the necessary costs. Each province sets their own fees, which is usually a flat rate or a percentage of your assets. For instance, in Ontario, the probate taxes are calculated as $5 per $1000 of estate assets up to $50,000 and $15 per $1000 of estate assets over $50,000.
What Taxes Should Be Paid?
All income that is earned from the beginning of the year to the date of death is to be reported on the final tax return. This will also include any capital gains tax on your assets and taxes on your RRSP or RRIF. When you pass away, the government assumes you have sold everything and regards all of your assets as disposed of for tax purposes.
How Can Estate Planning Reduce Fees?
Implementing estate planning strategies can help to reduce the tax hit that will be left to your estate. For one, if you leave your assets to your spouse or create a joint ownership, you don’t have to pay capital gains taxes or tax on your assets. Moving assets outside of your estate by setting up a trust to hold legal title, or a private company to own your assets, will also ensure they will not go through probate. However, it’s important to note that each province has different rules and fees, so it’s always best to talk to a professional who can guide you through the process and ensure that your state planning goes as intended.
At The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd., we provide strategic wealth planning that is tailored to your individual needs. We can set up an estate plan that will reduce your probate and taxes and provide your family with the assets you had intended to leave behind. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.