As we enter fall, the change of the seasons signals a time for reflection, and organization. Lately, I have had the opportunity to work with families, where the matriarch or patriarch passed unexpectedly. The heirs were caught by surprise and had to scramble with significant time (and some expense) to figure out 1) what to do and 2) figure out what assets were in the estate. This is especially so in families with somewhat complex assets, like private companies, private investments and real estate.
While you have the time and inclination, you may consider getting some of your information about your estate organized in a way that would facilitate your executor, often your children, to manage and then distribute the assets from your estate. The information would include the asset listing, approximate value of each of these assets, any liabilities against the assets, ownership and title to the assets. Most important would be a contact person who may be able to facilitate an understanding of the assets that you have.
Let’s talk about a few of the assets noted above and points for consideration:
Private company – who is the owner, what is the issued share structure, what is the value for each class of shares, does the company have any tax advantaged accounts (CDA, RDTOH, GRIP), can a tax planning strategy be employed to mitigate potential double taxation (separate discussion topic for future)
Private investments – what type of investment is this (LP, share, debt, other), how much of the investment is owned, what is the current value, does the investment qualify for the capital gains exemption, are there restrictions on transfer of this investment, can this investment be “cashed in”?
Real estate – what is the ownership structure (tenants in common, joint ownership, bare trust), what is the value, is the principal residence exemption available, is capital gains exemption possibly available (farm or small business), will property transfer tax apply on the necessary re-registration of title.
Hopefully, this has jogged some of your thoughts and a call to action for you to begin to get some of your matters in order. This exercise could begin the process of a smoother and more orderly transition of your wealth to your heirs.
Learn, think, apply!