Personal Tax Planning and Estate lawyers are generally understood to comprise the provision of wealth preservation advice and, as such, includes income and capital gains tax minimization and estate planning generally; the use of various tax shelters and deferrals; international tax planning for Canadian and non-Canadian residents and domiciliaries; formation of charitable trusts and companies; on- and offshore trust and asset protection structures; estate and tax planning utilizing inter vivos and other asset protection structures; estate freezes; long term strategic tax planning including inter-generational transfers of private individual, family business, and other closely-held corporations; tax planning respecting ownership of shares in private and public companies including on- and off-shore executive compensation structures; and tax planning for Canadians investing internationally and foreign investors establishing businesses in Canada.
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Estate lawyers help individuals and families with their future, especially with regards to their properties and taxations, to ease up the difficulties and prevent unnecessary problems brought by the death of a family member.
In its entirety, estate law are the laws governing an individual’s possessions or properties – both when the individual is still alive or after their death. The law deals with the relationship between a property owner, their properties, and the government, in relation to conveyances, taxes, and succession, among others.
Tax and Estate Planning in Canada
When a person dies, certain laws apply with regards to that person’s possessions and properties. As such, it is important to consult with estate lawyers to do a tax and estate planning. This plan, which may also be called a succession plan, can preserve properties owned by a person for their family, especially the surviving spouse and children while looking into how tax regulations are still complied with in the process. This is also helpful for the deceased person’s business/businesses and successors.
Persons may designate estate lawyers, or their spouse, a relative, or any close persons, as their property administrator by executing a legal document called power of attorney. The appointed person or lawyer will manage the finances and properties of the person, whether while they are still alive, or after they died, or when they become mentally unstable.
Unless the executing person limits the role of an administrator, the appointee can basically do anything, subject to the provincial and territorial statutes on administration. With this, powers of attorney are intimately connected with wills, where an administrator may also execute what has been indicated in a person’s will, but cannot change the said will.
When a person dies, there are two circumstances as to their finances, property and possessions – they died intestate, which means they died without leaving a will; or they died leaving a will with an executor or administrator. At best, estate lawyers are the most effective executor of wills or administrator of properties, although, private persons are also allowed to become so.
As to the first circumstance, when a person dies intestate, their properties will be divided among the relatives of the deceased person, in accordance with the provincial and territorial legislations regarding distribution of assets and succession law. Here, the court will appoint the administrator/executor, and if need be, will also appoint a guardian for the deceased person’s underage children.
For the second circumstance, when a person leaves behind a will, laws on testamentary succession of the provinces and territories will also apply. However, what is in the will must be followed by the appointed administrator/executor by the deceased person. Common to these provincial and territorial statutes on the legality of wills are the following (however, it is best to consult with estate lawyers for the specifics for each province or territory):
One of the responsibilities of the administrator/executor is to submit to the court the will and inventory of the deceased person’s properties and finances. Afterwards, the court will conduct the probate proceedings to determine:
Once satisfied, the court will now issue the Grant of Letters Probate to the administrator/executor for them to perform what has been indicated in the will. The actual process and legal fees may vary per province or territory, and estate lawyers are best conferred with regarding wills.
The “deemed disposition” rule in Canada provides that taxes will not be imposed on the estate of the deceased. This contrasts with other countries, where taxation over properties still works after a person dies. As such, upon the death of the person, their properties are “deemed” sold at fair market value, and the capital gains tax will be computed based on the difference of the income and costs of the said sale.
The deceased person’s Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF), which are typically tax-free, will be de-registered and will be included in the computation of the deceased’s final tax return, unless these are transferred to a qualified dependents or beneficiaries. This can be done when it is indicated in the plan itself or in a person’s will, which is another advantage of doing estate and personal tax planning.
Estate lawyers help persons and families by preserving and transferring their hard-earned properties and assets by assisting them undergo a personal tax and estate planning, which may include the drafting and execution of wills, or creation of family trusts or other kinds of trusts. For families who engage in businesses and corporations, a business succession planning is also where these lawyers may assist them with.
As such, they are knowledgeable not only with the laws on succession, but are also experts in corporation law, and taxation laws. Additionally, they can also provide for simpler way of dealing and complying with regulating government agencies, such as the Canada Revenue Agency.
As mentioned above, although property administrators or executors may not need to be lawyers, it would be an advantage to have estate lawyers deal with settling estates. Where a person dies leaving a will or not, lawyers may help either way – representing families in probate proceeding as the executor or as the court-appointed administrator – they are experienced enough to promptly and effectively settle estate regulations and disputes.
This would depend on each province or territory. For example, there is no deadline in British Columbia, but an executor generally has 1 year to settle all estate matters; in Ontario, it would be 6 months to 1 year; while in Quebec, there is no set time limit.
Where a will governs the “will” of a person when they die, a trust is established to enable conveyances of properties while a person is still alive. Although, what has been stipulated in the will may be accomplished through the creation of trusts, and transferring these trusts to the necessary heirs and persons named in the will. Additionally, since trusts are usually established with a third-party financial institution, it is equally legally binding, except that it is not subject to probate proceedings where its validity can be questioned.
Interested in proceeding with a tax and estate planning? Below are the best estate lawyers as ranked by Lexpert to help you and your family or business in crafting such plans.