March 5th, 2021



The start of a new year is always exciting and filled with optimism. As the saying goes, if we are to go forward, we must go back. When it comes to planning your financial future, going back will ensure that you have a solid foundation on which to build.

Proper financial planning, tax planning and estate planning is a process, not an event. Many people we meet have excellent professional advisors who are experts at solving problems. But no one is looking at their estate and risk planning from a 30,000-foot perspective or taking a comprehensive approach. Your Big Picture should include the following essentials:  Here are ten financial planning tips from® for a new year moving forward. 

1.   Make sure you have an updated will: A recent study by RBC Wealth Management reported that just over half the people canvassed had a will in place. One in three had done nothing at all to prepare for passing on wealth to the next generation. In Ontario, when a person dies without a valid will, provincial bureaucrats determine how the estate is distributed under the Succession Law Reform Act. Many people without a will mistakenly assume their estate will automatically move to their spouse tax-free. Each province has its own rules about beneficiaries and how they are treated in the absence of a will. Engage a lawyer who specializes in wills to develop yours.

2.    Powers of Attorney: Your need two Powers of Attorney, one for your legal affairs, and another for your health and personal care. Those individuals will be making important decisions about your health and wealth if you are unable to do so. Choose them wisely and be sure to discuss your wishes with them before conferring such enormous responsibilities upon them.

3.    Assets held jointly: It's often a good idea to own assets, like properties, as joint tenants, which avoids probate tax. When a property is owned by joint tenants, the interest of a deceased owner automatically gets transferred to the remaining surviving owners. In some cases, especially for creditor protection reasons, it may be better to own an asset in one person's name only. Again, this points to the need for a specialist to help you out.

4.    Beneficiaries: Your list of beneficiaries must be kept current and up to date. Half of Canadian marriages end in divorce, your beneficiaries list should be revisited frequently, especially when you say, "I do".  According to Statistics Canada, more than one in five Canadians who does remarry, leaves their second spouse within an average 7.6 years. The last thing you want to do is leave your money to an ex-spouse's children instead of your own.

5.    Estate directory: It is impossible to remember absolutely everything you need to have on hand for your spouse, children, and executors if something happens to you. You need to complete the 2021 Estate Directory, available free at®   You can easily input and update information on the whereabouts of your wills, insurance policies, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, etc. to help your survivors wind up your personal affairs in an orderly manner. 

6.    Life insurance: The importance of life insurance cannot be over-emphasized. It is the most cost-effective and tax-effective financial instrument available in Canada, and it enjoys unique treatment under the Income Tax Act. Life insurance benefits flow entirely tax-free, bypassing wills and probate fees. Most importantly, it provides financial security for your family when you are gone, covers your tax liabilities, underpins your Shareholder's Agreement, and guarantees payment to your family for your shares in a co-owned company when you die. It also designates funds to your favourite charity, creating an enduring legacy. These are just a few of the merits of owning a life insurance policy.

7.   Other insurance: We live in a great country, with an over-stressed health care system that provides universal coverage (and long wait times for treatment) paid for by our taxes. But all those taxes aren't enough to get you the specialized care you need as quickly as you want it. The cost of long-term care can easily exceed $10,000 a month, and will rapidly deplete your retirement savings, putting a financial strain on your spouse and family.   Use insurance as a hedge with policies that include a return of premium option, so if no claim is made you get back all the premiums paid.  

8.  Health benefits: Know what is covered by your company benefits and what's not. Your company may have what's known as "flex A benefits", allowing you to choose how/where to spend your eligible health dollars, or a wider choice of benefits where everyone receives the same coverage. If you have a special issue, seek advice from a specialist who can help you get the coverage you need without any overlap.

9. Retirement planning: A good plan starts with knowing what you want to do with your money, like paying off your mortgage, paying university tuitions for your kids, helping them buy a home, and travelling the world. In retirement, the salary you have grown accustomed to will no longer be available, and you may be unemployed for several decades.  When it comes to retirement planning, you need the help of a Certified Financial Planner to ensure you are on the right track and protected from unwelcome surprises.

10. Charity: You have three possible beneficiaries when you pass away: family, charity, and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). There are many ways to give to charity, whether you want to donate now or in the future. The most cost-effective way to provide for charity is through life insurance, which usually results in a much larger gift than if you had donated cash. If you are over 65 and collecting CPP, consider using the CPP Philanthropy™ strategy, that you can read about at®

The start of a new year is the perfect time to act on the issues described above. Prepare now for whatever lies ahead and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have planned appropriately.

For Further Media Information or to set up an interview with Mark Halpern, please contact: 

Nelson Hudes 

Hudes Communications International 

(905) 660-9155




This is a magical time of year, when cold and dark nights contrast with the warmth of families joyfully gathering to reminisce fondly about holidays past and creating new memories for the future. Those cozy gatherings celebrate a family’s good fortune and shared blessings. Often, they include discussions about charitable giving and philanthropy that stem from conversations parents, grandparents and children have about giving back. This is also an opportune time to inspire future generations, and the way to best execute on this idea is to discuss tax and estate planning and how investing in good causes will save a lot of tax. 

With that in mind,® has six tips for everyone to preserve their wealth for their family as well as the charities they are passionate about.   

  1. Benefit From Life Insurance While You Are Alive: Most Canadians think the only benefit from a life insurance police occurs when they die. However, you can benefit from life insurance while you are alive. As an example, a retired accountant in his mid 60’s has a $500,000 life insurance policy he didn’t really need. He wanted to donate the policy to his alma mater, so® arranged for an independent actuary to determine its current value. The actuary valued the policy at $290,000 and it was donated it to the university, with the individual receiving a charitable donation receipt for the entire $290,000, and he saved about  $145,000 in taxes.
  1. Tax Tip: Most Canadians donate to charity using cash, credit cards or a cheque. In truth, that’s the least efficient way to be philanthropic. If you’ve invested in the stock market over the past 10 or 15 years, you undoubtedly have some appreciated securities with ‘pregnant’ taxable gains. Simply donate some of those shares and receive a tax charitable receipt for their full (appreciated) value and pay zero capital gains taxes on them. 
  1. RRSPs and RIFs: If you’re single, divorced, widowed, or never married, the tax department will scoop up to 54 % of your RRSP or RIF savings when you die, and probate fees can gobble up another 1.5 %. (in Ontario) If you designate a charity as the beneficiary of some or all of your RSP or RIF, you can effectively eliminate the tax liability.
  1. Create Your Own Family Legacy: Donating to favourite  charities can be emotionally fulfilling and financially rewarding, reducing your current or future tax load. It can also enable you to save more for those near and dear to you while creating a family legacy that will carry your name for many years to come. 
  1. Selling Your Business? Save taxes if you are about to sell your home or business. Consider donating to charity the amount of funds that will offset all or part of the tax bill and then use the credit that would be available in a Capital Dividend Account to buy some corporate-owned life insurance. Doing so will allow you to donate generously, reduce or eliminate your taxes, and the corporate-owned life insurance that will ensure your family is covered and reimbursed fully for all your charitable good will.
  1. Donate Corporately: Donating personally provides you with an approximate 50 % tax savings, but to get a bigger bang for your buck, donate funds corporately and enjoy a 100 % corporate deduction.  A corporation using marketable securities for a donation also doesn’t have to pay any capital gains tax. In this instance, the gains on the donated funds are credited to the company’s Capital Dividend Account (CDA) and bow can be withdrawn  tax-free and used for whatever purposes you want.


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