The Value of Financial Advice

 

“If it has a price, it must have value.”

This study, based on a new Canadian survey and adjusting for the causality issue, reconfirms the positive value of having financial advice. As in our earlier paper, the discipline imposed by a financial advisor on households’ financial behavior and increased savings of adviced households are to improving asset values of households relative to comparable households without an advisor. Benefitting from a subset of participants in both surveys, dropping an advisor between 2010 and 2014 was costly: those households lost a significant percentage of their asset values while the households who kept their advisor have gained in asset values.

To learn more, read the paper.  

 

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The Best Way to Buy Mortgage Insurance

Before buying insurance from your bank to cover your mortgage, please consider your options. What does the insurance cover?  

  • From the bank: only the balance of your mortgage

  • From us: whatever you need it to cover such as debts, line of credit

What happens as my mortgage balance decreases? 

  • From the bank: the coverage amount decreases as your balance decreases.

  • From us: the coverage stays the same for as long as you own your policy

What if I switch banks?  

  • From the bank: You might lose your coverage and need to reapply

  • From us: Your coverage stays the same, since it’s not tied to your mortgage

Who gets the benefit if I die? 

  • From the bank: The Bank

  • From us: You decide who gets the insurance and how to use it, such as to pay your mortgage, medical expenses or child’s education- whatever is best for your family

Talk to us, we can help.

Estate Planning for Business Owners

Writing an estate plan is important if you own personal assets but is all the more crucial if you also own your own business. This is due to the additional business complexities that need to be addressed, including tax issues, business succession and how to handle bigger and more complex estates. Seeking professional help from an accountant, lawyer or financial advisor is an effective way of dealing with such complexities. As a starting point, ask yourself these seven key questions and, if you answer “no” to any of them, it may highlight an area that you need to take remedial action towards.

  • Have you made a contingency plan for what will happen to your business if you are incapacitated or die unexpectedly?
  • Have you and any co-owners of your business made a buy-sell agreement?
  • If so, is the buy-sell agreement funded by life insurance?
  • If you have decided that a family member will inherit your business when you die, have you provided other family members with assets of an equal value?
  • Have you appointed a successor to your business?
  • Are you making the most of the lifetime capital gains exemption ($835,714 in 2017) on your shares of the business, if you are a qualified small business?
  • Are you taking care to minimize any possible tax liability that may be payable by your estate in the event of your death?

Estate freezes

The process of freezing the value of your business at a particular date is an increasingly common way of protecting your estate from a large capital gains tax bill if your business increases in value. To achieve this, usually the shares in the business that have the highest growth potential are redistributed to others, often your children, meaning that they will be liable for the tax on any increase in their value in the future. In exchange, you will receive new shares allowing you to maintain control of the business with a key difference – the value of the shares is frozen so that your tax liability is lower and that of your estate when you die will also be reduced.

2018 Year End Tax Tips

 

Tax Planning Tips for the End of the Year

Now that we are nearing year end, it’s a good time to review your finances. 2018 saw a number of major changes to tax legislation come in force and more will apply in 2019, therefore you should consider available opportunities and planning strategies prior to year-end.

Below, we have listed some of the key areas to consider and provided you with some useful tips to make sure that you cover all of the essentials.

Key Tax Deadlines for 2018 Savings

December 31, 2018:

  • Medical expenses
  • Fees for union and professional memberships
  • Charitable gifts
  • Investment counsel fees, interest and other expenses relating to investments
  • Student loan interest payments
  • Political contributions
  • Deductible legal fees
  • Some payments for child and spousal support
  • If you reached the age of 71 in 2018, contributions to your RRSP

January 30, 2019

  • Interest on intra-family loans
  • Interest you must pay on employer loans, to reduce your taxable benefit

February 14, 2019

  • Expenses relating to personal car reimbursement to your employer

March 1, 2019

  • Contributions to provincial labour-sponsored venture capital corporations
  • Deductible contributions to a personal or spousal RRSP

Family Tax Issues

  • Check your eligibility to the Canada Child Benefit

In order to receive the Canada Child Benefit in 2019/20, you need to file your tax returns for 2018 because the benefit is calculated using the family income from the previous year. Eligibility depends on set criteria such as your family’s income and the number and age of your children and you may qualify for full or partial amount.

 

  • Consider family income splitting

The CRA offers a low interest rate on loans and it therefore makes sense to consider setting up an income splitting loan arrangements with members of your family, whereby you can potentially lock in the family loan at a low interest rate of 2% and subsequently invest the borrowed monies into a higher return investment and benefit from the lower tax status of your family member. Don’t forget to adhere to the new Tax on Split Income rules.

 

  • Have you sold your main residence this year?

If so, your 2018 personal tax return must include information regarding the sale or you may lose any “principal residence” exemptions on the capital gains from the sale and thus make the sale taxable.

 

  • If you’re moving, think carefully about your moving date

If you are moving to a new province, it’s worth noting that your residence at December 31, 2018 is likely to be the one that your taxes are due to for the whole of the 2018 year. Therefore, if your move is to a province with higher taxes, putting your move off until 2019 may therefore make sense, and vice versa if you are moving to a lower tax province.

 

 

Managing Your Investments

  • Use up your TFSA contribution room

If you are able, it’s worth contributing the full $5,500 to your TFSA for 2018. You can also contribute more (up to $57,500) if you are 27 or older and haven’t made any previous TFSA contributions.

 

  • Check if you have investments in a corporation

The new passive investment income rules apply to tax years from 2018 and you therefore need to plan ahead if the rules affect you. They state that the small business deduction is reduced for companies which are affected with between $50,000 and $150,000 of investment income, therefore the small business deduction has been stopped completely for corporations which earn passive investment income of more than $150,000.

 

  • Think about selling any investments with unrealized capital losses

It might be worth doing this before year-end in order to apply the loss against any net capital gains achieved during the last three years. Any late trades should ideally be completed on or prior to December 21, 2018 and subsequently confirmed with your broker.

Conversely, if you have investments with unrealized capital gains which are not able to be offset with capital losses, it may be worth selling them after 2018 in order to be taxed on the income the following year.

 

Estate and Retirement Planning

  • Make the most of your RRSP

The deadline for making contributions to your RRSP for the year 2018 is March 1, 2019. There are three things that affect how much you may contribution towards your RRSP, as follows:

  • 18% of your previous year’s earned income
  • Up to a maximum of $26,230 for 2018 and $26,500 for 2019
  • Your pension adjustment

Remember that deducting your RRSP contribution reduces your after-tax cost of making said contribution.

  • Check when your RRSP is due to end

You should wind-up your RRSP if you reached the age of 71 during 2018 and your final contributions should be made by December 31, 2018.

Other Considerations

  • Make your personal tax instalments

If you pay your final 2018 personal tax instalment by December 15, 2018, you won’t pay interest or penalty charges. Similarly, if you are behind on these instalments, you should try to make “catch-up” payments by that date.

You can also offset part or all of the non-deductible interest that you would have been assessed if you make early or additional instalment payments.

 

  • Remember the deadline for making a taxpayer-relief request

The deadline is December 31, 2018 for making a tax-payer relief request related to the 2008 tax year.

 

  • Consider how to minimize the taxable benefit for your company car

The taxable benefit applied to company cars is comprised of two parts – a stand-by charge and an operating-cost benefit. If you drive a company car, it’s worth considering how to potentially minimize both of these elements. The taxable benefit for operating costs is $0.26 per kilometer of personal use, therefore you should make sure that you reimburse your employer where relevant, by the deadline of February 14, 2019.

Contact us if you have any questions, we can help.

Financial Planning

A financial plan looks at where you are today and where you want to go. It determines your short, medium and long term financial goals and how you can reach them.

Why do you need a Financial Plan?

  • Worry less about money and gain control.
  • Organize your finances.
  • Prioritize your goals.
  • Focus on the big picture.
  • Save money to reach your goals.

What does a Financial Plan include?

There are 2 main sides your financial plan should address: Accumulation and Protection

Accumulation:

  • Cash Management – Savings and Debt
  • Tax Planning
  • Investments

Protection:

  • Insurance Planning
  • Health Insurance
  • Estate Planning

What’s the Financial Planning Process?

  • Establish and define the financial planner-client relationship.
  • Gather information about current financial situation and goals including lifestyle goals.
  • Analyze and evaluate current financial status.
  • Develop and present strategies and solutions to achieve goals.
  • Implement recommendations.
  • Monitor and review recommendations. Adjust if necessary.

Next steps…

  • Talk to us about helping you get your finances in order so you can achieve your lifestyle and financial goals.
  • Feel confident in knowing you have a plan to get to your goals.

Financial Planning for Business Owners

Financial Planning for business owners is often two-sided: personal financial planning and planning for the business.

Business owners have access to a lot of financial tools that employees don’t have access to; this is a great advantage, however it can be overwhelming too. A financial plan can relieve this.

A financial plan looks at where you are today and where you want to go. It determines your short, medium and long term financial goals and how you can reach them. For you, personally and for your business.

Why do you need a Financial Plan?

  • Worry less about money and gain control.
  • Organize your finances.
  • Prioritize your goals.
  • Focus on the big picture.
  • Save money to reach your goals.

For a business owner, personal and business finances are connected. Therefore both sides should be addressed: Personal and Business.

What does a Financial Plan for a Business include?

There are 2 main sides your business financial plan should address: Growth and Preservation

Growth:

  • Cash Management- Managing Cash & Debt
  • Tax Planning- Finding tax efficiencies
  • Retaining & Attracting Key Talent

Preservation:

  • Investment- either back into the business or outside of the business
  • Insurance Planning/Risk Management
  • Succession/Exit Planning

What does a Personal Financial Plan include?

There are 2 main sides your financial plan should address: Accumulation and Protection

Accumulation:

  • Cash Management – Savings and Debt
  • Tax Planning
  • Investments

Protection:

  • Insurance Planning
  • Health Insurance
  • Estate Planning

What’s the Financial Planning Process?

  • Establish and define the financial planner-client relationship.
  • Gather information about current financial situation and goals including lifestyle goals.
  • Analyze and evaluate current financial status.
  • Develop and present strategies and solutions to achieve goals.
  • Implement recommendations.
  • Monitor and review recommendations. Adjust if necessary.

Next steps…

  • Talk to us about helping you get your finances in order so you can achieve your lifestyle and financial goals.
  • Feel confident in knowing you have a plan to get to your goals.

Do you really need life insurance?

 

 

You most likely do, but the more important question is, ‘What kind?’ Whether you’re a young professional starting out, a devoted parent or a successful CEO, securing a life insurance policy is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make in your adult life. Most people would agree that having financial safety nets in place is a good way to make sure that your loved ones will be taken care of when you pass away. Insurance can also help support your financial obligations and even take care of your estate liabilities. The tricky part, however, is figuring out what kind of life insurance best suits your goals and needs. This quick guide will help you decide what life insurance policy is best for you, depending on who needs to benefit from it and how long you’ll need it.

Permanent or Term?

Life insurance can be classified into two principal types: permanent or term. Both have different strengths and weaknesses, depending on what you aim to achieve with your life insurance policy.

Term life insurance provides death benefits for a limited amount of time, usually for a fixed number of years. Let’s say you get a 30-year term. This means you’ll only pay for each year of those 30 years. If you die before the 30-year period, then your beneficiaries shall receive the death benefits they are entitled to. After the period, the insurance shall expire. You will no longer need to pay premiums, and your beneficiaries will no longer be entitled to any benefits.

Term life insurance is right for you if you are:

  • The family breadwinner. Death benefits will replace your income for the years that you will have been working, in order to support your family’s needs.
  • A stay-at-home parent. You can set your insurance policy term to cover the years that your child will need financial support, especially for things that you would normally provide as a stay-at-home parent, such as childcare services.
  • A divorced parent. Insurance can cover the cost of child support, and the term can be set depending on how long you need to make support payments.
  • A mortgagor. If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you can set up your term insurance to cover the years that you have to make payments. This way, your family won’t have to worry about losing their home.
  • A debtor with a co-signed debt. If you have credit card debt or student loans, a term life insurance policy can cover your debt payments. The term can be set to run for the duration of the payments.
  • A business owner. If you’re a business owner, you may need either a term or permanent life insurance, depending on your needs. If you’re primarily concerned with paying off business debts, then a term life insurance may be your best option.

Unlike term life insurance, a permanent life insurance does not expire. This means that your beneficiaries can receive death benefits no matter when you die. Aside from death benefits, a permanent life insurance policy can also double as a savings plan. A certain portion of your premiums can build cash value, which you may “withdraw” or borrow for future needs. You can do well with a permanent life insurance policy if you:

  • …Have a special needs child. As a special needs child will most likely need support for health care and other expenses even as they enter adulthood. Your permanent life insurance can provide them with death benefits any time within their lifetime.
  • …Want to leave something for your loved ones. Regardless of your net worth, permanent life insurance will make sure that your beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to. If you have a high net worth, permanent life insurance can take care of estate taxes. Otherwise, they will still get even a small inheritance through death benefits.
  • …Want to make sure that your funeral expenses are covered. Final expense insurance can provide coverage for funeral expenses for smaller premiums.
  • …Have maximized your retirement plans. As permanent life insurance may also come with a savings component, this can also be used to help you out during retirement.
  • …Own a business. As mentioned earlier, business owners may need either permanent or term, depending on their needs.

 

A permanent insurance policy can help pay off estate taxes, so that the successors can inherit the business worry-free. Different people have different financial needs, so there is no one-sized-fits-all approach to choosing the right insurance policy for you. Talk to us now, and find out how a permanent or term life insurance can best give you security and peace of mind.

Getting the best from a financial advisor

Working with a professional to help you to make sense of your finances can be a wise move, but for this relationship to work effectively it is important that you understand what to expect from your financial advisor.

What can your financial advisor help you with?

  • Defining your financial goals and creating a step by step plan or strategy to achieve them.
  • Planning for the future, including for retirement, future education or housing needs.
  • Choosing the mix of investments and assets that suit your goals, lifestyle, time horizon and appetite for risk.
  • Building a solid estate for your family to inherit in the future.
  • Choosing the most tax-efficient methods of saving and investing.

What should your financial advisor inform you of?

  • The range of services that they offer and how much and by which method you will compensate them.
  • Your mutual responsibilities and obligations towards each other.
  • What the planning process will look like and the documents that they will provide you with.

What will your financial advisor need from you or need to ask you about?

  • What your financial goals are.
  • What your personal circumstances – such as your marital status, any dependents, your job, earnings and tax situation.
  • Any investments or assets that you currently have – such as registered accounts, workplace pensions, property etc.
  • Your appetite for risk and investment preferences.
  • Information on your income and also your outgoings, including debts such as mortgages, loans or credit cards.
  • Whether or not you have a will, and its contents.
  • Your estate and inheritance planning situation.

If you’re looking to achieve your financial goals, talk to us. We can help.

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