There are many ways to reduce your estate liabilities. You work hard to earn a living, save for retirement, and own property. It is important to know what your estate liabilities are in relation to: capital gains, mortgage debt, car loans, unpaid taxes, and business-related liabilities. Consider reducing these liabilities:
Reduce the impact of income taxes. Here are some methods to reduce taxes due upon your death:
- Use the spousal (and disabled child) rollover provisions of RRSPs or RRIFs.
- Leave assets that have accrued capital gains to your spouse to defer tax.
- Leave assets without capital gains to other (non-spouse) family members.
- While you are alive, gradually sell assets having capital gains, to avoid dealing with the gains all at once in your estate.
- Purchase life insurance to cover capital gains taxation in the estate.
Taxes may be payable on gains in relation to:
- income-producing real estate, a second residence, or cottage.
- any other assets left to surviving family members, such as shares of a business.
- Consider charitable donations to lessen taxes in the estate.
Reduce probate fees. Probate fees will be based on the value of assets administered through your will. Here are some ways to reduce probate fees:
- Establish a spousal trust during your lifetime to hold assets or property for the sole use of your spouse.
- Own assets jointly with your spouse.
- Distribute assets or cash while alive.
- Name a beneficiary (not the estate) on life insurance policies.
- Include an alternate beneficiary on your life insurance policies in case your initial beneficiary predeceases you, or dies simultaneously (that way, probate fees will be avoided on the proceeds).