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The Genetic Non-Discrimination Act and its Impact on Life Insurance

One of the many advancements in medicine has been the use of genetic testing in determining the probability that an individual will develop a life- threatening illness or condition.   Knowing that you or your children are not at risk of a major illness can be of great comfort while knowledge to the contrary can be of great value in preventative treatment and planning.  There was a growing concern, however, that individuals would be very reluctant to undergo genetic testing if knowing the results could affect their ability to properly insure themselves or impact their opportunities for employment.  As a result, a private member’s bill, Bill S-201, was introduced in the senate resulting in the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act being recently enacted into law.

What does the Act do?

It is now illegal for employers, insurance companies, or any other entity or individual to require anyone to undergo genetic testing or to disclose the results of a genetic test before entering into a contract which provides goods or services.  Now, if you apply for life, disability or critical illness insurance living benefit coverage, you cannot be denied coverage due to the results of a genetic test.  Insurance companies and their agents are also prohibited from “collecting, using or disclosing” the results of a genetic test without an individual’s written consent. Penalties for not complying with the new law are severe. Read more

Preparing your Heirs for Wealth

If you think your heirs are not quite old enough or prepared enough to discuss the wealth they will inherit on your death, you’re not alone. Unfortunately though, this way of thinking can leave your beneficiaries in a decision-making vacuum: an unnecessary predicament which can be avoided by facing your own mortality and making a plan.

If you have a will in place, great. A will, however, is only a fundamental first step, not a comprehensive plan, point out authors of the 2017 Wealth Transfer Report from RBC Wealth Management.

“One generation’s success at building wealth does not ensure the next generation’s ability to manage wealth responsibly, or provide effective stewardship for the future,” they write. “Knowing the value (alone) does little to prepare inheritors for managing the considerable responsibilities of wealth.” Overall, the report’s authors say the number of inheritors who’ve been prepared hovers at just one in three. Read more

The Duties of an Executor

An executor is an individual or institution that is named in a will whose duty is to distribute estate assets according to the testator’s wishes. Acting as an executor can be stressful and time consuming so it is a good idea for a testator to make his or her choice wisely, and for someone who is asked to be an executor to investigate and review exactly what the job entails.  Often the executor is the spouse of the deceased. That tends to make the role somewhat more straightforward than it would be for a family member, friend or other acquaintance. In any event, this article covers the duties and obligations of an executor.

Arranging the funeral 

In addition to arranging the burial or cremation and funeral services according to the deceased’s wishes the executor would be responsible in ensuring that family, friends and interested parties (especially employer) have been notified about the death.  Family members will most likely assist in this including the posting of the obituary. If there are sufficient funds in the bank account of the deceased the bank will usually release  funds to cover the cost of the funeral. Read more

Charitable Gifting with Shared Ownership Universal Life Insurance

Many individuals have realized their charitable aspirations by donating a life insurance policy to the charity of their choice.  In situations where that donation is a Universal Life policy, the use of a Shared Ownership strategy could prove to be a viable investment for the donor.

Shared Ownership refers to an arrangement involving cash value life insurance policies such as Universal Life.  Universal Life combines life insurance with an investment fund which grows tax deferred until the cash value is withdrawn.  If the cash value is paid out at death, the growth is tax free.

Under Shared Ownership, the life insurance and the cash value would have different owners and beneficiaries and would be structured as follows: Read more

Index Funds vs Actively Managed Funds: what are the main differences?

There are significant differences when it comes to Index Funds and Actively Managed Funds. Deciding between the two will depend on various factors including your risk appetite, the ROI you are looking to achieve and the timeframe in which you are looking to achieve this. When weighing up these factors it’s useful to know what each type of fund entails, what the main strengths are as well as some of the potential drawbacks of investing in them.

Index Funds

An index fund (also known as a Tracker Fund) is based on a particular market index and aims to track that specific index as closely as possible. The most recognized of these indices are possibly Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, consisting of 500 of the largest US companies that’s listed on the NYSE. Read more

Life Insurance and the Capital Dividend Account

Many business owners are unaware that corporate owned life insurance combined with the Capital Dividend Account (CDA) provides an opportunity to distribute corporate surplus on the death of a shareholder to the surviving shareholders or family members tax-free.

Income earned by a corporation and then distributed to a shareholder is subject to tax integration which results in the total tax paid between the two being approximately the same as if the shareholder earned the income directly. Integration also means that if a corporation is in receipt of funds which it received tax-free, then those funds should be tax free when distributed to the shareholder.

The Capital Dividend Account is a notional account which tracks these particular tax-free amounts accumulated by the corporation. It is not shown in accounting records or financial statements of the corporation.  If there is a balance in the CDA it may be shown in the notes section of the financial statements for information purposes only.

Generally, the tax-free amounts referred to, are the non-taxable portions of capital gains received by the corporation and the death benefit proceeds of life insurance policies where the corporation is the beneficiary. Read more

ARTICLES OF INTEREST

What Non-Retirees Mean for the Workforce

The decision of 72-year-old railway executive Hunter Harrison to pursue a challenging new gig instead of retirement is emblematic of the changing shape of the workforce

For all Hunter Harrison’s unquestionable talents, he is really bad at one thing: not working. The celebrated railway executive officially retired from Canadian National Railway Company (CN) in 2009, after a long career running railways. A little more than two years later, at the encouragement of activist investor Bill Ackman, Harrison came out of retirement to become president and CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway (CP). Read more »

Debt Load

Are you out of your debt comfort zone? Does it seem as though you’re paying too much to bill collectors and not enough for savings and the things you enjoy in life? If so, it’s a good idea to figure out just how much debt you have and compare that to how much you earn. This will give you clear understanding of your financial health.

Debt Load

Debt load is a term that is used to describe a consumer’s amount of debt. It is often used to understand if you are carrying a “safe” amount of debt. Creditors look at a debt/income ratio, comparing your income with your debts to analyze whether you have an appropriate amount of debt. The debt/income ratio is figured monthly and reveals either how good — or bad — your financial situation is. Read more »