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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My visit to Spruce Grove

Today I spent a few hours in Spruce Grove, a town about 30 km west of Edmonton. I was at their Scotiabank branch, giving a seminar to a hand-picked group of customers who wanted to learn more about Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives. Well, that's one of my favourite topics, and as usual I had so much to say that it was tough to contain it all within the given time limits! It has been proven that I can, in fact, talk about wills, estates and elder law literally all day.

The topic that seemed to gather the most interest, questions and discussion from the group was that of taxation. We do not have inheritance tax or death tax in Canada, but that doesn't mean there is no tax hit when a person passes away. We talked about how tax will be payable on RRSPs and RRIFs on the death of the owner unless they are rolled over to an eligible person such as a spouse. We spent quite a bit of time talking about capital gains tax that arises when an owner disposes of capital property, including land, cottages and shares in private companies.

When you are doing your estate planning, make sure that you take taxation into consideration. You must always ask yourself whether there is enough money in your estate to pay the taxes that will arise. It can be disappointing and upsetting if homes or other property that was to be given to a specific person has to be sold to pay taxes. If you really don't know what your tax situation will be (or even if you think maybe you do), it's a good idea to spend some time talking to a lawyer or accountant who has experience with estate matters.

It's better to find out about potential tax problems now and make sure you provide some way of paying them after your death.

It was a beautiful day for a drive to Spruce Grove. Many thanks to the Scotiabankers out there for their hospitality and a big BIG thanks to the customers who gave up a big part of their day to sit down and talk about estate planning.

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