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Should you give your children their inheritance now?

Morningstar – Personal Finance Article By Gail Bebee

The baby boomers, that great swell of Canadians born in the first …

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Should you give your children their inheritance now?

March 9th, 2018

Morningstar – Personal Finance Article By Gail Bebee

The baby boomers, that great swell of Canadians born in the first 20 or so years after the Second World War, are retiring, and judging from Statistics Canada data they are retiring in decent financial shape. In 2016, the median net worth for a family with the major income recipient aged 55 to 64 was $669,500. For a senior family (eldest partner is 65 or more), this figure was $762,900. These numbers are set to rise substantially as this cohort will inherit an estimated $750 billion over the next decade according to a 2016 CIBC Capital Markets report. It’s a question many parents are considering, especially in cities such as Toronto or Vancouver where a teardown can sell for upward of a million dollars.

Not surprisingly, some seniors and pre-retirees are giving their children at least some of their inheritance now. The money has a positive impact on their children’s lives. It can allow them to buy a home, and the parent(s) can witness their children enjoying the money. However, careful evaluation of the pros and cons of such a gift is essential before any assets change hands. A living inheritance will not suit all family circumstances.

“If you are considering a living inheritance, you must first make sure your own financial house is in order before you start giving your wealth away,” says Ian Black, a fee-only financial advisor and portfolio manager at Macdonald, Shymko & Co. Ltd. in Vancouver.

Retirees must be certain that they retain sufficient assets to enjoy the retirement lifestyle they desire and avoid running out of money. Pre-retirees must consider how the gift will affect their planned retirement date and lifestyle. Will the gift mean delaying retirement to earn additional funds? If so, will your health allow you to work the extra years? Will there be suitable work available?

“When assessing the feasibility of a living inheritance, we like to stress-test a client’s financial plans by asking the question: If your net worth decreased by 20 to 30%, would you still be able to afford the gift?” says Black.

Another crucial consideration is how the planned gift will affect your child. Clearly, your intent is for the gift to have a positive impact, but will it? Is she mature enough to avoid squandering the money? Will the gift destroy her ambition? Does she have sufficient financial literacy to make sensible decisions about the inheritance?

Gifts that address specific needs of a child such as paying off student loans or help with a down payment for a home are generally well received.

There are ways to address at least some parental concerns about the negative impact of a living inheritance:

  • Delay the gift until the child reaches a certain age or milestone such as college graduation;
  • Arrange for training in financial management before giving the money;
  • Give a small sum initially and monitor how the child handles it;
  • Place conditions on the gift, such as limiting the use to the down payment on a home;
  • If the gift is intended to establish a business, require the child to provide a detailed business plan and match any gifted money.

The impact of a living inheritance on the siblings of the recipient must also be taken into account before any funds are dispersed. For the sake of family harmony, fairness in giving to all children is vital. If one child receives funds toward a home purchase, their siblings should receive an equivalent gift, even if they do not intend to buy homes.

The tax implications of a living inheritance can be considerable for both parent and child, and merit investigation before any decision regarding a gift is made.

There may be tax savings if you give money or property to your children while you are alive. No probate fees are payable. If your child is legally an adult, profits generated by the gift money will be taxed in her hands, possibly at a lower tax rate.

If you need to sell investments to raise money for the gift, capital-gains tax will be payable on any profits. If you plan to give real estate, consulting an accountant is crucial, since the tax treatment can be complex.

Canada has no gift tax, but large gifts of money and property will pique the interest of the Canada Revenue Agency, according to the income-tax consulting firm FBC.

Given the complexities of Canada’s tax rules, seeking the advice of a tax professional when considering a living inheritance is likely money well spent.  Click here to read the rest of this article

Helping children up the property ladder can harm your retirement

January 19th, 2018

The Globe and Mail – Retirement Planning Article by Diane Jermyn

Should you help your children buy their first house?

It’s a question many parents are considering, especially in cities such as Toronto or Vancouver where a teardown can sell for upward of a million dollars.

According to a 2017 national survey conducted by Leger on behalf of the Financial Planning Standards Council, 37 per cent of Canadian parents intend to assist their children with the purchase of their first home …

The biggest question financial advisors would ask the parents in this situation is this: Can you afford it? Making a decision to help your children buy a house now could impact your own standard of living down the road.

Ian Black, a fee-only financial planner and portfolio manager at Macdonald, Shymko & Co. Ltd. in Vancouver, is seeing a lot of parents helping their children get a footing in the overheated Vancouver market.

But he warns that giving $50,000 or $100,000 to your children for a downpayment could push parents onto the negative side later if the markets turn and your net worth falls.

“It’s most common for parents to give to the kids when they’re trading down themselves to a condo or retirement home and have cash because they’ve just sold their house for $3-million,” Mr. Black says.

“First, you need to do some analysis to see if you can really afford to give some away. You still want to have a cushion in case you need a higher level of care later and may have to move into a more expensive medical facility.”

He also says it’s pretty rare that a downpayment loan from parents ever gets paid back. He suggests that clients structure it as a loan, but that’s more as a protection in case of divorce.

“If you register a mortgage on the property, and your son or daughter gets divorced and the house is sold, the money would come back to you because that mortgage has to be repaid at the time of the sale,” Mr. Black explains. “It’s a bit tricky because the kids likely aren’t actually paying that second mortgage back. It’s just to protect the parents in case the kids divorce.”

While emotions and guilt often come into the decision, he says parents need to help their children put it into perspective and be realistic about how much they can buy. That may mean the children have to move further afield, say to Langley, B.C., southwest of Vancouver, or buy a townhouse instead of a single-family home.

“At some point, it has to be tough love,” Mr. Black says. “Set the limits on what you can give and have that discussion, disclosing what you’re comfortable with. Or say, we’re not going to be able to help you out. We’re just not in a position to do that.” Click here to read the rest of this article

This couple wonder if early retirement makes sense with a high net worth

December 29th, 2017

The Globe and Mail – By Dianne Maley

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Marv and Maddy hope to leave their high-paying jobs and retire in 2020. Though neither has a company pension, they have substantial savings. He is 57, she is 56. They have a daughter, 21, who is living at home.

Marv will be walking away from $175,000 a year as a self-employed professional in the health-care field. Maddy brings in $180,000 a year from her management job. Maddy and Marv’s Alberta condo is valued at $1.5-million, and they have a cottage in British Columbia worth $200,000.

Despite their high net worth, the couple still wonder whether retiring early is feasible. Their retirement spending goal is $120,000 a year after tax.

We asked Keith Copping, a fee-only financial planner at Macdonald Shymko & Co. Ltd. in Vancouver, to look at Marv and Maddy’s situation.

Marv expects to get $127,200, paid over four years, when he sells his business to an associate in 2020 and hangs up his hat, Mr. Copping says. Based on their current earnings and cash outlays of $180,804 a year, they have surplus cash flow of $46,416 a year.

Subtracting savings and debt repayment from spending leaves them with lifestyle expenses of $106,884 a year, which better reflects what they would need when they retire, the planner says. This is below their $120,000 spending target.

In preparing his plan, Mr. Copping made the following assumptions. Maddy and Marv will earn an average rate of return of 4.5 per cent on their investments; inflation will average 2 per cent a year; Marv will live to be 94 and Maddy, 97; both will start collecting Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits at the age of 65 or later, with both getting the maximum CPP benefit.

They will pay off their $75,000 line of credit before they retire. The calculations exclude the value of their home and cottage, which will form part of their estate.

Based on these assumptions, the couple will have after-tax income of $107,000 a year when they retire, Mr. Copping says.  Click here to read the rest of the article (need Globe & Mail subscription).

Is it time for this 70-year-old to sell her billboard rental business?

September 8th, 2017

The Globe and Mail – Financial Facelift by Dianne Maley

At the age of 70, Yvonne feels she is at a fork in the road and in need of “a professional, disinterested perspective.”

She is single again with three grown children and a clutch of grandchildren, none of whom is looking to her for an inheritance. At the same time, she does not want to be a burden on them.

“That really is my overriding concern,” Yvonne writes in an e-mail, “how best to look after myself financially so I reduce the chances of needing to turn to family for financial help in the future.” She has some savings and a waterfront lot back home. She collects Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits. But her main income comes from the rental of billboard signs along a highway in New York State.

 Last year “was a good year,” Yvonne writes. “I had all seven signs rented.” Gross rental income translated into $65,510 (Canadian). “After taxes and billboard-related expenses, I live well on what’s left,” she adds.

Then one morning “out of the blue” a former advertiser called and asked if she would sell just one of the signs. She suggested the company buy all seven because she didn’t want to sell piece by piece. “They are thinking and I am thinking,” Yvonne writes. However it turns out, she wants to understand what the income stream from the billboard business is worth. “What is the least I can reasonably take for this business?” she asks.

 “I would like to sell but I do not know if I can afford to. What level of frugality would I be embracing over the next 20 years if I sold now?” If she sells, Yvonne wonders whether it would be a good idea to use part of the sale proceeds to top up her registered retirement savings plan.

We asked Ian Black, a registered financial planner (RFP) at Macdonald Shymko & Co. Ltd. in Vancouver, to look at Yvonne’s situation. Macdonald Shymko is a fee-only financial planning and portfolio management firm.

Click here to read the rest of this article

What the rich can teach us in these turbulent times

September 6th, 2017

The Globe and Mail – Kira Vermond

Between President Donald Trump threatening to “shut down” the United States government, the war of words with North Korea and global stocks taking more dives (and rebounds) than a desperate soccer player, the average investor has probably been a tad rattled lately. But how have Canada’s wealthy fared?

These top advisors for high-net-worth investors weigh in on what they’re hearing from their richest clients – and what we can all learn from them.

Paul Harris, partner and portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management, Toronto

“I think the general feeling is of nervousness because the market has gone up so much. People are also unsettled by the political situation in the United States. They feel there is something that’s going to blow up and cause the equity market to blow up with it. They don’t believe that this individual who runs the country is not going to blow up something along the way.

“Everybody also feels there should be a market pullback. There hasn’t been one in a while. But when everybody wants a pullback, it never happens. It’s Murphy’s Law. The market continues to go up.”

Susan Latremoille, wealth advisor and director of wealth management at the Latremoille Group, Richardson GMP Ltd., Toronto

“They have fear, but I think it’s connected primarily to what’s going on in the world.

“Ultimately, the mindset of wealthy people has more to do with capital preservation than taking a lot of risk. Most of the wealthy people we work with say, ‘Don’t lose my money. I’d rather just hold onto it than take a lot of risk, but I’m also looking for a return better than just leaving my money in the bank.’

“So there’s no need to shoot the lights out, it’s about protecting the money and increasing the value over time.”

Tony Maiorino, vice-president and head of RBC Wealth Management Services, Toronto

“Here’s an analogy for you: You’re flying from Ottawa to Toronto and there’s 30 minutes of turbulence in that 45-minute flight. When somebody asks what the flight was like, you’re going to say, ‘It was a horrible flight!’ You’re focused on the short term. But if you’re taking a 12-hour flight to Hong Kong and you have that same 30 minutes of turbulence, unless it comes right before you’re going to land, you’ve forgotten all about it.

“These clients have been through this before. They’ve seen it and understand it’s short-term in nature. They’re not overly concerned by what they’re seeing. They’re frequent fliers, if you will.”

Nancy Grouni, certified financial planner, Objective Financial Partners Inc.,Markham, Ont.

“There isn’t one particular mindset that wealthy people have when it comes to the stock market. I work with very wealthy people who are enormously risk tolerant and others who are enormously risk averse. I see both ends of the spectrum.

“It depends more on how they acquired their money. Those who inherit money are less likely to have a lot of experience with the stock market. So they’re more likely to be risk averse.

“But we also work with a lot of people who have become wealthy due to investing in their own corporations. Because it’s part and parcel of what they do for a living, I find those people are more risk tolerant and more likely to have a higher component of their portfolio in the stock market.”

Glen Brown, head of investments, Manulife Private Wealth, Toronto

“When Brexit came out the first thought was, ‘Well, how is this going to affect my portfolio? What should we be doing?’ Well, you shouldn’t be doing anything because they just voted for something, and we have no clue how this is going to unfold.

“If you’re doing a properly diversified global portfolio, as the high-net-worth people do, they tend to not overweight Canada – which is a propensity many of us have. I think that is something that protects them.

“I think if you’re looking for something for the long term, you don’t care what a politician has said – no matter who that politician is. Quite honestly, you will be riding this out and dealing with your money after that politician has retired.”

Ian Black, fee-only financial advisor at Macdonald, Shymko & Co. Ltd., Vancouver

“Our clients aren’t necessarily concerned with what’s happening day to day in the market. That’s because we teach them that diversification is your friend. If you’re happy with all parts of your portfolio at one time, you’re probably not diversified enough.

Click here to read the rest of this article

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