Writing an estate plan is important if you own personal assets but is all the more crucial if you also own your own business. This is due to the additional business complexities that need to be addressed, including tax issues, business succession and how to handle bigger and more complex estates. Seeking professional help from an accountant, lawyer or financial advisor is an effective way of dealing with such complexities. As a starting point, ask yourself these seven key questions and, if you answer “no” to any of them, it may highlight an area that you need to take remedial action towards.
- Have you made a contingency plan for what will happen to your business if you are incapacitated or die unexpectedly?
- Have you and any co-owners of your business made a buy-sell agreement?
- If so, is the buy-sell agreement funded by life insurance?
- If you have decided that a family member will inherit your business when you die, have you provided other family members with assets of an equal value?
- Have you appointed a successor to your business?
- Are you making the most of the lifetime capital gains exemption ($835,714 in 2017) on your shares of the business, if you are a qualified small business?
- Are you taking care to minimize any possible tax liability that may be payable by your estate in the event of your death?
The process of freezing the value of your business at a particular date is an increasingly common way of protecting your estate from a large capital gains tax bill if your business increases in value. To achieve this, usually the shares in the business that have the highest growth potential are redistributed to others, often your children, meaning that they will be liable for the tax on any increase in their value in the future. In exchange, you will receive new shares allowing you to maintain control of the business with a key difference – the value of the shares is frozen so that your tax liability is lower and that of your estate when you die will also be reduced.
Working with a professional to help you to make sense of your finances can be a wise move, but for this relationship to work effectively it is important that you understand what to expect from your financial advisor.
What can your financial advisor help you with?
- Defining your financial goals and creating a step by step plan or strategy to achieve them.
- Planning for the future, including for retirement, future education or housing needs.
- Choosing the mix of investments and assets that suit your goals, lifestyle, time horizon and appetite for risk.
- Building a solid estate for your family to inherit in the future.
- Choosing the most tax-efficient methods of saving and investing.
What should your financial advisor inform you of?
- The range of services that they offer and how much and by which method you will compensate them.
- Your mutual responsibilities and obligations towards each other.
- What the planning process will look like and the documents that they will provide you with.
What will your financial advisor need from you or need to ask you about?
- What your financial goals are.
- What your personal circumstances – such as your marital status, any dependents, your job, earnings and tax situation.
- Any investments or assets that you currently have – such as registered accounts, workplace pensions, property etc.
- Your appetite for risk and investment preferences.
- Information on your income and also your outgoings, including debts such as mortgages, loans or credit cards.
- Whether or not you have a will, and its contents.
- Your estate and inheritance planning situation.
If you’re looking to achieve your financial goals, talk to us. We can help.
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ACA Financial is an independent financial advisory firm founded on the principle of client-focused advice. Our approach, listening and understanding our clients' unique needs. The result, a clear and mutual understanding and the foundation for all planning considerations. We are committed to demonstrating value by delivering on each client's need for growth, safety, liquidity and cash flow.
LIFE AND HEALTH INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE PROVIDED BY ACA FINANCIAL. LIFE AND HEALTH INSURANCE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES ARE NOT AVAILABLE THROUGH DESJARDINS FINANCIAL SECURITY INVESTMENTS INC. (DFS INVESTMENTS) NOR ARE THE INSURANCE PLANS OR SERVICES AVAILABLE AND/OR OFFERED SUPERVISED OR REVIEWED BY DFS INVESTMENTS. DFS INVESTMENTS IS THE MUTUAL FUND DEALER THROUGH WHICH MUTUAL FUND PRODUCTS AND SERVICES ARE PROVIDED.