As incredible as it may seem, taxes and probate fees can reduce the size of your estate by as much as 50% in some cases. However, with careful planning you can reduce fees, or avoid some fees all together.

Let’s look at probate fees as one example. Probate is the legal procedure that establishes the validity of a will and authorizes the executor to carry out the will’s terms. Normally, you pay a probate fee on all assets in the estate. However, there are some exceptions:

  • Assets owned jointly, where the asset is automatically owned by the surviving joint owner(s), and
  • Assets with named beneficiaries, such as RRSPs or life insurance policies.

Thus, you can reduce probate fees by placing registered assets, such as property and vehicles, in joint names with the right of ownership going to the surviving joint owner.

However, you have to keep one thing in mind. Assets held in joint names with a right of survival are usually not affected by instructions in the will. Here’s an example:

A will instructs that estate assets are to be divided equally between two beneficiaries. However, a savings account was held jointly with the deceased and one of the beneficiaries. In this case, funds in the savings account will go only to the named beneficiary and not the other. The remaining assets, which are not in joint names with rights of survival, can be divided between both beneficiaries.

Dealing with estate taxes and probate fees can get complicated. However, we are here to help. It’s our goal to ensure your estate pays as little in fees and taxes as possible, leaving more money for your heirs as a result.

Contact us today for an appointment at your convenience.