For many Canadians, the majority of their wealth is held in personally owned real estate. For most this will be limited to their principal residence, however, investment in recreational and real estate investment property also forms a substantial part of some estates. Due to the nature of real estate, it is important to utilize estate planning to realize optimum gain and minimize tax implications.
Key Considerations for Real Estate Investment
- Real estate is not a qualifying investment for the purposes of the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption.
- Leaving taxable property to a spouse through a spousal rollover in the will defers the tax until the spouse sells the property or dies.
- Apart from the principal residence, real estate often creates a need for liquidity due to capital gains, estate equalization, mortgage repayment or other considerations.
- Professional advice is often required to select the most advantageous ownership structure (i.e. personal, trust, holding company).
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
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
If you are the owner of a successful company it is likely that you have retained profits or surplus cash in your corporation. If this is the case, chances are also good that this invested surplus is exposed to a high rate of corporate income tax. If this describes your company then you may be a candidate for the Corporate Estate Transfer. This strategy provides tax sheltered growth as well as maximizing the estate value of your company upon your death.
What is a Corporate Estate Transfer?
The Corporate Estate Transfer is an arrangement in which the company purchases a tax exempt life insurance policy on the life of the shareholder using corporate funds that are not needed for immediate business purposes. In doing so, the transferred surplus grows tax-deferred while the death benefit of the life insurance policy increases the value to the estate when the shareholder dies. Read more