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September 7 / In The News, Wealth Management

How This Couple is Balancing Their Finances and a New Baby

In the months leading up to the birth of their first child, Bob and Betty wondered how this new stage of their lives might affect their financial position.

Betty would be taking parental leave, so the household income would drop. When she returned to work, there would be child-care costs and saving for higher education. In time, they might have a second child.

“I worry that we are not managing our savings as well as we should, and that our current lifestyle cannot be maintained once kids are in the picture,” Betty writes in an e-mail. “Will we need to adjust in other areas? Will things be tight in the year I am on maternity leave with only 10 weeks of [employment insurance] top up from my employer?”

Well, the little one has arrived so they’re about to find out. “We welcomed a baby girl on July 2,” Betty writes. “Life is certainly different, and we are settling into this new chapter.”

They are well-positioned financially. At the age of 30, both have good professional jobs, bringing in a combined $175,000 a year before tax. Bob, who makes $83,000 a year in the health-care field, has a defined-benefit pension plan. If he stays put, he can retire in 25 years – at the age of 55 – with a monthly pension of $2,886, plus a bridge benefit of $720 a month until he turns 65.

 They hope to retire early. “We are still young and if we need to adjust course to meet our goals, now is the time,” Betty writes. Like most folks their age, they have a house with a mortgage.

We asked Linda Stalker, a certified financial planner at Henderson Partners LLP of Oakville, Ont., to look at Bob and Betty’s situation.

Read more from our own Linda Stalker who shares her advice with a young couple making important decisions about their future in this special article from the Globe and Mail.

 

July 11 / Wealth Management

Wealth Planning under the Trump Presidency

The Tax Apprentice: Wealth Planning under the Trump Presidency

Now that Donald Trump is in power and firmly asserting his constitutional rights as President, the likelihood of U.S. tax reform is higher than anytime since 1986.  The Republicans have their eyes set on repealing Obamacare and its maligned offspring, the 3.8% surtax on investment income, as well as possibly eliminating U.S. estate tax entirely.  These potential changes have been met with approval by American resident voters, but the changes fall short in benefiting Americans living in Canada and, in particular, those who have a non-American spouse (“mixed marriage”).  In this article, we will review the more pervasive U.S. tax rules that stymie well-intended Canadian tax policy and dismantle otherwise effective wealth accumulation tax planning strategies.

Read the article

June 26 / Wealth Management

Wealth Management: Choosing the Right Executor for Your Will

Virtually every family in Canada will appoint at least one executor, or estate trustee, to be their most trusted decision-maker – someone who will take on one of the most challenging roles of their life, on short notice.  Who should you turn to for help?

 The overall responsibility of an estate trustee is to administer the will and ensure that the final wishes of the deceased are respected.  Since it is a position of trust, choosing an estate trustee – as well as accepting the responsibility of being an estate trustee – is a decision that merits considerable thought.

It is important to understand the potentially overwhelming nature of the executor’s duties. The tasks are numerous and time consuming. Executor duties can take months or even years of work.  There is technical expertise required. There may be family tensions, time constraints and personal liability.  Often executors are chosen because of their relationship with the deceased or because of their profession, but if they have not had prior experience in settling an estate, it may be a daunting prospect.

As estate trustee should possess specific qualities.  These include: availability, capability, sympathy, reliability and financial responsibility.

Availability: The estate trustee should be located in a geographical area close to the deceased so that the duties can be performed expeditiously and without undue expense or inconvenience.  Where an estate trustee is not a resident of a Commonwealth jurisdiction, the trustee may be required to provide an administration bond, which is normally twice the value of the estate being administered.

Capability: This includes awareness that guidance may be required from lawyers, accountants and/or estate and trust professionals. These professionals can carry out any or all of the duties that you don’t feel comfortable handling yourself, while you retain your decision-making authority.

Sympathy: Settling an estate can often create family conflict or renew existing family discord.  As executor you need to communicate with beneficiaries and balance potentially conflicting interests.  An unbiased third party can often be an invaluable resource in managing those tensions.

Reliability: Being an estate trustee may call for business judgement in areas such as the realization of assets, dealing with insurance and a variety of other financial decisions. This means that the choice of an estate trustee should not be based solely on friendship or affection. If a business is to be continued or sold, business judgement, professional skills and basic honesty will be of particular importance.

Financial Responsibility:  An estate trustee may be personally liable in certain situations, such as making investments in unsuitable assets, failing to act properly or having to pay the deceased’s unpaid income tax liability.

In short, the role requires a lawyer, accountant, mediator and psychologist all rolled into one.  Before taking on the role it is important to carefully consider what you are being asked to do and whether you are well suited to the task.

If you have been appointed executor and can’t or don’t want to carry out all the duties involved in administering the estate, you have the right to decline to act before you carry out any tasks.  Alternatively, you can engage a firm that provides estate and trust services at any point during the estate administration to help you with all or some of your responsibilities as executor.

 

Linda Stalker is the Director, Wealth Advisory Services and has extensive experience designing comprehensive financial and estate plans for individuals and small businesses, and estate trustee administration services. To learn more contact lstalker@hendersonpartnersllp.ca

 

 

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