Tax & Estate Planning for Canadians
The Altro LLP estate planning team possesses a wide range of experience in all aspects of wills, trusts and estates. Our professionals provide individuals, families and business clients with comprehensive advice customized to their specific needs to ensure the smooth transfer of assets to the next generation including reducing or eliminating probate fees and minimizing or deferring tax on capital gains, income splitting through the use of spousal (for married or common law spouses) and testamentary trusts as well optimizing wills to enable charitable giving.
Planning for the transfer of assets on death requires careful consideration of the tax consequences that may arise at such time. Our lawyers will analyze the different tax consequences that may apply in respect of various asset classes such as registered plans, non-registered investments, corporate assets, real estate and personal property.
Without proper planning, a Canadian taxpayer’s estate may encounter a host of legal issues if he or she dies intestate (without a Will). These include the application of probate tax on assets that may have been transferred without probate, triggering capital gains tax which may have been deferred and/or guardianship issues for minor children.
Most notably, the application of relevant statutes, for example, in Ontario, the Succession Law Reform Act, will dictate how assets are to be distributed in the absence of a Will. Such distribution will depend on the next of kin who survive the testator/testatrix and often results in a distribution that may not have been the intention of the deceased.
Our professionals analyze the facts specific to each client’s situation in order to recommend and implement an appropriate plan. We also help clients settle estates of Canadians who pass away owning real property in foreign jurisdictions.
Wills, Trusts & Powers of Attorney
Whether you are a growing family looking to prepare your first Wills or an established family with Wills that need to be updated, Canadian clients rely on Altro LLP to prepare or update wills that reflect their current goals and intentions. Our lawyers will engage in an analysis of the tax implications that will apply on death in respect of your specific asset holdings and determine how the estate ought to satisfy any such liabilities.
Our professionals provide individuals, families and business clients with comprehensive advice customized to their specific needs to ensure the smooth transfer of assets to the next generation, including reducing or eliminating probate fees and minimizing or deferring tax on capital gains, income splitting through the use of spousal and testamentary trusts, planning for disabled beneficiaries, using a secondary or non-probateable Will to transfer corporate and certain personal assets, as well optimizing Wills to enable charitable giving.
Inter vivos trusts, or trusts established during your lifetime may provide for additional benefits to a client’s overall estate plan. Our lawyers will analyze and determine the applicability and potential benefits of establishing a bare trust, alter ego or joint partner or other types of discretionary irrevocable trusts such as a prescribed rate loan trust.
Longer life spans are increasing the risk that one may suffer from impaired cognitive abilities, increasing the need to plan for long-term incapacity. Altro LLP prepares the necessary documents to address planning for potential incapacity including powers of attorney for property and personal care, and living Wills or other incapacity mandates tailored to specific individual and/or corporate needs.
Altro LLP assists clients in negotiating and executing Cohabitation Agreements and/or Marriage Contracts. Our lawyers will advise as to the implications of governing statutes, for example, in Ontario, the Family Law Act, and assist clients in understanding their rights under the law.
Our lawyers will negotiate with counsel for the other spouse as to reasonable terms. We will then work with clients to provide Independent Legal Advice and complete the financial disclosure required to create an enforceable agreement.
Whether you are married or common law, seeking simply to exclude certain assets from equalization of the Net Family Property, dealing with a more complex scenario such as a second or third marriage, or seeking the complete separation of assets, our clients rely on Altro LLP to guide them through the process.
Settlement of Estates
Altro LLP often assists executors settle the estate of Canadians who pass away with or without a Will.
Subject to limited exceptions, Canadians who pass away owning assets in their personal names may be subject to Estate Administration Tax, also known as probate tax. Probate is the legal procedure required to transfer title of assets to children or other beneficiaries upon death.
In Ontario, for example, probate is approximately 1.5% of the fair market value of the assets that fall into the estate upon the date of death. As these statutory probate fees are based on the value of the estate; the higher the value of an estate, the higher the probate fees. Probate can be costly and time-consuming and also freezes the estate.
Settling an estate requires the filing of various forms and affidavits. Altro LLP prepares and files all necessary affidavits and filings for clients, including Certificate Of Appointment Of Estate Trustee With a Will or Certificate Of Appointment Of Estate Trustee Without a Will. In addition, our lawyers work with the accountants of the estate to prepare and file any outstanding T1 General personal income tax returns as well as the income tax return of the estate, also known as a T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Return. Once a clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has been obtained certifying that all amounts owing to the CRA are paid, Altro LLP will work with the executor of the estate in distributing inheritances to the beneficiaries of the estate. Where there are one or more ongoing trusts under the Will, our lawyers will work with the trustee(s) and the bank to establish such trusts.
Altro LLP is here to assist executors and trustees of Canadian estates requiring guidance on managing the administration and distribution of property held in trust when a loved one passes.
High Net Worth Families
As high net worth families are increasingly growing their assets domestically and internationally, Altro LLP advises clients on the income tax consequences of international investments. Our lawyers mitigate the risk of double taxation that may result when owning assets in certain jurisdictions in the absence of additional planning. Altro LLP has particular expertise in dealing with the intersection of the Canadian and US income tax laws as well as the application of the Canada-US Tax Treaty. We will analyze the implications of current asset holdings in the various jurisdictions and determine whether situs Wills are appropriate in order to mitigate probate and/or other tax consequences.
Many high net worth clients who operate family-run businesses are seeking orderly succession planning to smoothly transition their businesses to the next generation. Our lawyers will analyze the current ownership structure and determine whether such structure continues to meet the needs of the family, whether a reorganized structure may provide for greater tax savings and whether an estate freeze is desirable as a means of crystallizing capital gains to today’s values and accruing future gains to the beneficiaries.
As members of high net worth families are becoming increasingly mobile, Altro LLP often represents clients who are determining how to leave assets to beneficiaries who live outside of Canada. With particular expertise in the US, Altro LLP works with clients to plan for the distribution of assets to US residents and/or citizens in the most tax efficient manner, utilizing tools such as Dynasty Trusts, Revocable Grantor Trusts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts and others to give effect to client intentions.
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