We’re always told to make sure we have beneficiaries designated on all our accounts. We’re told to make sure that our beneficiaries are in accordance with our final wishes and we’re also told to review them regularly.
But when it comes to the TFSA there is another, more important designation, the successor holder, and in some cases we don’t want to list a beneficiary on our TFSA we want to list a successor holder instead.
There are lots of benefits to having a beneficiary (or successor holder) designated on your account. It helps expedite things after you pass. It helps your loved ones access cash and investments faster. It helps avoid probate fees. And it helps keep assets from entering the estate and getting held up in the estate process.
Having a beneficiary also helps to keeps things private. When you don’t have a beneficiary list on your account, your assets pass through your estate. Estate information is available to the public, so any assets passing through your estate are out there available for everyone to see. By naming a beneficiary on your account, the assets in that account avoid your estate and go directly to the beneficiary. They’re kept private and no one knows the details.
But when it comes to the TFSA there is another designation that you can make on your account. The difference is subtle, but like many things in personal finance the impact can be HUGE.
When it comes to the TFSA you can designate someone a beneficiary but you can also name someone a successor holder.
Here’s the difference…
Families in Canada have a very unique financial planning opportunity that isn’t available to other Canadians. This opportunity can help boost their savings and provide them with more cash flow to save in the future. With a bit of careful planning families can reduce their overall marginal effective tax rate and save more money.
First, a little background…
In Canada, there are two types of “tax rates”. The first is income tax. This one is easier to understand. As your income increases you pay more income tax. The second tax rate is actually a “benefit claw back rate” and it works the same way as tax rate, the more your income increases the less you receive in benefits. In Canada, most government benefits are “clawed back” based on household net income. This means that as you earn more income your benefits will be reduced, or “clawed back”, and the effect is the same as income tax.
Families have a unique tax and financial planning opportunity because some government benefits don’t get clawed back until family income is well into the $100,000+ range. This means there are certain tax strategies that are unique to families, even those with above average incomes.
All families with children under the age of 17 are eligible for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB). The Canada Child Benefit is one of the most generous benefits in Canada, it’s even available to high-income earners, but it also has one of the highest claw back rates too. But, with careful planning it’s possible to avoid some of these claw backs, increase your annual benefit, and as a result increase your annual savings as well.
Claw back rates on the Canada Child Benefit range from 3.2% to 23% for each extra dollar you earn. The exact claw back depends on the number of children and your household net income.
The claw back means that if you earn an extra $1,000 this year, your benefit could be reduced by $32.00 to $230.00 next year!
This is even higher for low-income families who also receive other government benefits, like the GST/HST credit or Trillium benefits in Ontario, which all have claw back rates as well.
The opportunity for families is that RRSP contributions will DECREASE their taxable net income and will INCREASE their benefits. That means that a $1,000 RRSP contribution this year will INCREASE your Canada Child Benefit by $32.00 to $230.00 next year!
This means that families in particular can strategically save using an RRSP instead of a TFSA and boost their government benefits. This is counter to most financial advice that suggests low-income Canadians should prioritize their TFSA first. While this advice might be true for many low-income Canadians, it’s not necessarily true for families.
We’re going to take a look at four examples to show you just how impactful this type of financial planning can be.
Note: These are examples only, specific to Ontario, and should not be used for financial planning purposes. Income tax and benefit rates are very dependent on family income, income split, ages of children, province of residence etc. To understand the impact for your family we recommend building a custom financial plan with an advice-only financial planner.
Note: The following is a guest post from lawyer Manda Ivezic. Manda practices in real estate, wills & estates, and small business law in London, Ontario and provides wills at a very reasonable rate of $300 for an individual and $475 for a couple.
A recent LawPRO survey estimated that 56% of adult Canadians don’t have a will. Wills were least common for 27-34 year olds, 88% didn’t have one, and 71% of respondents didn’t have a power of attorney at all.
Why do so many of us put off wills and estate planning? Common reasons to delay estate planning include:
You’re too young to anticipate your death – you see yourself living a long and full life, dying of old age far in the future. You have plenty of time ahead of you to take care of your will.
It’s overwhelming or unpleasant to think about.
You think it’s unjustifiably costly.
You don’t think you’re wealthy enough to need a will.
You don’t realize how important it is, because you don’t understand what exactly will happen in the absence of a will or power of attorney.
The problem with putting off wills and estate planning is that you can’t safely assume how the future will play out.
Delaying may mean it never gets done – an accident or illness could make you incapable of creating a will. Not preparing will and estate plan only makes a bad situation worse. The consequences of dying without a will can easily outweigh the time and lawyer’s fee.
As well, a lawyer’s input can result in substantial cost savings down the line compared to the upfront cost, maximizing what is left to your beneficiaries. A will also saves time and trouble down the road. At the very least, appointing an executor will prevent someone having to apply to court to be appointed as your estate’ executor – an avoidable burden at the worst time for your family.
Get this task out of the way and give yourself peace of mind. Here’s what you need to know when creating a will and estate plan…
When you’re thinking about your financial future it’s important to consider risk. There are your typical risks, like the risk of losing money with investments, the risk of passing away unexpectedly, or the risk of not being able to work for an extended period of time. These are all common risks we need to plan for.
But there are also other risks too, ones that many of us might not include in our plans. These risks are less common, more speculative, but can be just as damaging. Risks like changes to government benefits, increasing tax rates, or changes to tax-advantaged accounts like the RRSP and the TFSA.
Based on age alone, the TFSA is relatively young, it’s barely entering the double digits. Although it was only introduced in 2009 it has already experienced a few dramatic changes during that time.
Anticipating changes to tax-advantaged accounts is an important part of any financial plan. A good plan should have enough room to absorb a few of these unexpected changes without causing major stress.
To ensure your plan is robust you need to anticipate these changes and understand how they might impact your plans.
In this post we’re going to speculate on a few ways that the TFSA could change in the future. This is pure speculation but it’s a good exercise to understand what changes might be possible in the future and how your plan can absorb them if they were to actually happen.
It’s getting to be that time of year again. Time for taxes, time for RRSP contributions, and time to debate whether a TFSA contribution or an RRSP contribution is the best choice.
RRSP season naturally creates this question for many people. Is an RRSP contribution really the right choice? Or would a TFSA contribution be better?
Unless you’re fortunate enough to be maxing out both accounts, the TFSA vs RRSP decision has been an annual conundrum since the introduction of the TFSA in 2009. If you’re not well versed in the differences between the TFSA and the RRSP, read this intro to the TFSA and this intro to the RRSP to get a better sense of the differences.
The TFSA and the RRSP two of the main tax advantaged retirement accounts in Canada. You can use one, the other, or both to save for retirement.
Using the TFSA alone can be enough for a luxurious retirement, one that is 100% free of taxes. However, in certain situations, the RRSP can provide A HUGE benefit by lowering your lifetime tax bill.
Which one you use depends on your situation, and not just your situation now, but also your situation in retirement. To make the decision even more complex there are also some soft benefits that can help push you toward the TFSA or the RRSP when all the other factors are equal.
Deciding between the TFSA or the RRSP can be tough. Making the right decision could be worth $10,000’s to $100,000’s. If you feel like you need help then please reach out to us. We help clients optimize their taxes and benefits, and choosing between the TFSA and the RRSP is an important consideration. A financial plan from a fee-for-service planner can easily save you thousands of dollars and also make these tough financial decisions much easier.
This TFSA vs RRSP guide takes a financial planner’s perspective on the decision between a TFSA and RRSP. Learn how to make the TFSA vs RRSP decision just like a financial planner would. Look at all aspects of the decision, not just taxes, not just government benefits, but everything.
Here’s how to make the TFSA vs RRSP decision like a financial planner. Each factor is important, but the weight you give each one depends on your own situation and goals.
Personal finance is full of achievements you need to unlock. The more you unlock the more success you’ll have building wealth.
To ‘win’ the money game you need to hit certain milestones along the way. Some achievements are necessary before you can move forward in the game. Others enable you to accelerate your wealth even faster. And then there are some achievements that are just interesting check points along the way.
Here are 30 personal finance achievements you need to unlock!
How many have you unlocked already?