Taxing your death

Mourning

In Canada, tax returns were due yesterday (the deadline was extended to May 2 as April 30 fell on a Saturday this year). People who have died also have to file their returns. If the individual died before November 1, the tax return will be due on April 30; if the death occurred after November 1, the return is due within six months of the date of death. Either way, there are a number of special considerations on a final return.

Last week, the Globe and Mail published an excerpt from The Canadian Guide to Will and Estate Planning by Douglas Gray and John Budd, which is a book that I highly recommend. Gray and Budd go through a number of scenarios regarding gifting property before death and several options for how to set up gifts and bequests on death to maximize the benefit for your family members and minimize taxes owing on death. They also mention the most important lesson of all: don’t let your desire to minimize taxes override your ultimate wishes for your property on death. You don’t want to save money on taxes only to have someone inherit well before they should have. You should always see a professional advisor before you take any of these steps.

The bottom line? You can do a lot to minimize taxes that will also be in line with your estate planning objectives, as long as you see professionals and have them talk to each other.

Here’s to one more year before 2011 taxes are due!

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