Five Items Often Overlooked in a Will

Updating your Will from time to time is important, especially as the world becomes more and more digital. This month Marci looks at some of the components that should be included when it comes to your estate planning and Will.

Five Items Often Overlooked in a Will

Written By: Marci Perreault
KenMar Financial Services

Loyalty programs

Each loyalty program has its own rules about whether points can be transferred to a beneficiary, so check your programs’ policies. When allowed, list the loyalty program in your will and name the beneficiary of the points. Also, provide your executor with each loyalty program’s login information.

Digital assets

In your will, you can grant access, provide instructions, or name beneficiaries for a range of online accounts and property. Such items may include bank and investment accounts, automatic bill payments and subscriptions, personal or business websites, photo or video collections, social media accounts, or a cryptocurrency wallet.

Pet care

If you have a friend or family member who will take care of your pet, you can name them in your will to become the pet’s new owner. Also, in the will, you can leave this person funds to cover pet insurance, food, and other costs.


Are you the sole subscriber of a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)? On your passing, the default is that the grant money is repaid to the government and the remaining assets become part of your estate. A solution is to name a successor subscriber in your will. The successor subscriber can maintain the RESP for your child or grandchild.

Special possessions

Some possessions get left out of a will because their value is primarily sentimental, not financial. However, many items—even a fishing rod or a pasta maker—could remind your child of a special bond you shared.

Best Practices When it Comes to Monitoring Your Credit Card and Online Financial Transactions

In today’s digital age, the convenience of electronic transactions has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, along with this convenience comes the risk of encountering false charges that can unexpectedly drain our finances.

Recently, a resident of British Columbia found himself in an alarming predicament when he discovered he had been unknowingly footing the bill for someone else’s cell phone expenses for a staggering five years. This unfortunate incident underscores the importance of vigilant monitoring of our financial transactions to prevent such occurrences from slipping through the cracks.

How false charges occur

False charges can arise in numerous ways. For example, the bank or credit card company may make an error. You may sign up for a one-month trial subscription that automatically renews every month. A store may inadvertently charge you twice or fail to process a return. Or perhaps you’re a victim of fraud. Scamming methods include phishing emails and phone calls, accessing data over public Wi-Fi, acquiring names and card numbers through a company data breach, and scanning a card’s magnetic stripe with a skimming device.

Monitoring transactions

Unless you make it a habit, it’s easy to let up on checking your purchases. You should monitor your bank account transactions and credit card statements at least monthly.

That includes statements for a credit card you only keep for emergencies. Some people prefer to check weekly if it’s onerous going through 30 days of transactions.

Note that sometimes a merchant’s name shows up that you don’t recognize because it’s the name of the merchant’s parent company. You can verify the associated purchase if you keep receipts, record transactions or use an app that tracks purchases. If you don’t have your receipts, generally, a call to your issuing credit card company will assist in finding this out.

An additional way to monitor transactions is to sign up for alerts, which can help identify fraud. Some financial institutions offer an extra layer of protection through transaction alerts, enabling consumers to receive real-time notifications of any activity on their accounts. Whether through text messages, emails, or dedicated mobile applications, these alerts serve as a proactive measure against potential fraud when a credit card or debit card transaction is made on your account. They empower individuals to take swift action in the event of unauthorized transactions.

One more detail to think about: if you or your parent or loved one begins to double pay bills or make purchases you can’t recall making frequently, it may be time to register a family member’s email and phone for texts so you may have a second pair of eyes looking out for fraud schemes, and monitoring monthly transactions.

In essence, the proactive monitoring of financial transactions serves as a crucial safeguard against the perils of false charges and fraudulent activity. By remaining vigilant and implementing sound practices, individuals can mitigate the risk of financial loss and safeguard their hard-earned assets in an increasingly interconnected digital landscape.

When You Retire, Financial Literacy Expands

Retiring from the workforce as you know it requires a great deal of planning and a disciplined approach to saving, decades before you retire completely.

Just as your needs change over time, wealth planning now changes. It may include shifting into lower-risk portfolios while ensuring the best possible return on your investments.

Articulating your goals clearly will help define where your financial advisor invests or places your funds to work for you.

A good financial planner will ask relevant questions and provide insight into which information sources are best to further your knowledge and understanding.

This September, Marci Perreault, a certified financial planner and partner at KenMar Financial Services, offers some areas to consider as you manage your retirement savings for many years to come.

When You Retire, Financial Literacy Expands 

By: Marci Perreault

Wealth planning doesn’t retire when you do – it just changes. Now, financial life is largely about making the most of the wealth you’ve accumulated. You’ll be learning about new rules, products, and strategies that involve a broad range of financial considerations.

Fortunately, your expanding financial literacy doesn’t have to happen all at once. You can acquire new knowledge gradually as needs arise.

From Accumulation to Decumulation

When you have retirement savings in your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF), Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), and non-registered account, how do you know which source to tap first for income? You’ll learn that there’s no formula to follow. It depends on each retiree’s particular tax situation, government benefits strategy, and estate planning goals. We’ll work with you to develop a plan that suits your circumstances. This may be a balancing act in which you draw varying amounts from multiple sources.

Along the way, you’ll also learn about splitting pension income, making RRIF withdrawals strategically, and ensuring you don’t outlive your savings.

Planning Your Estate

Although estate planning typically begins in your working years, new factors often arise during retirement.

  • Controlling an Inheritance: If you have reason to control how an heir receives their inheritance, you’ll want to know about trusts. Situations include being in a second marriage and wanting to leave an inheritance to children from your first marriage, having minor beneficiaries, and preferring that an heir receives funds over time instead of in a lump sum.

  • Covering Tax: You’ll learn about ways to minimize the tax on your estate’s assets, such as gifting certain assets now to limit their appreciation or transferring assets to your spouse upon your passing. Also, you’ll develop a plan to cover the tax liability that is ultimately payable by your estate.

  • Using Life Insurance: One way to offset the tax on estate assets is through a permanent life insurance policy. Life insurance can also help equalize inheritances—for example, when one child takes over the family business and the other child receives insurance proceeds. With life insurance, the financial need is taken care of as soon as you pay the first premium, and proceeds are received tax-free, but the cost of the premiums must be weighed against other funding solutions.

Repurposing Your TFSA

In retirement, your TFSA could become a tax-free environment for any funds from your minimum required RRIF withdrawals that you don’t require as retirement income. Also, you can take advantage of the tax-free nature of TFSA withdrawals in several ways, such as minimizing any clawback of Old Age Security (OAS) benefits or preventing your income level from being pushed into the next tax bracket. You’ll also find out about different ways TFSA assets can be used in estate planning, either to help manage taxes on your estate’s assets or to leave as an inheritance.

Investment Changes

When you’ve been investing for decades, there’s not a lot that’s left to learn. However, you may be introduced to several products and strategies designed for the retirement years. For example, you can choose new non-registered investment funds that provide tax-efficient monthly income. To safeguard against withdrawing funds when the market is down, some retirees draw their income from a cash reserve that they replenish periodically.

We’re Here to Help You

Wealth planning in this new chapter of your life involves many decisions you haven’t faced before. However, with our help, you’ll find that your financial life during retirement goes smoothly.

Stay informed. We’ll educate you on each new topic so you feel comfortable, not intimidated.

Explore options. When a wealth planning matter arises, we’ll outline the available options. For example, say that a retiree wants to give financial support to grandchildren of varying ages. The first choice is whether to give funds now, leave an inheritance, or both. If it’s now, will the funds be for education costs, a down payment on a home, or any future use? If it’s an inheritance, will grandchildren be named in the will or designated as beneficiaries of a life insurance policy or a registered plan?

Be well-advised. If a decision is simply based on personal preference, we’ll let you know. When a solution depends on your unique financial situation and goals, you can trust us to recommend the product or strategy that best meets your needs.

Have You Named a Trusted Contact Person?

If you are not prepared to decide on a Power of Attorney for your investments, assigning a trusted contact for your investments may be a good option.

This month Marci Perreault, Certified Financial Planner,  gives some context as to why this may make sense.

As always, Marci is available for consultation.

Enjoy your summer days!

Have you named a trusted contact person?

The Canadian Securities Administrators, an umbrella organization of provincial and territorial securities regulators, introduced a measure two years ago to help protect investors’ financial interests. Investors could give their advisor the name of a “trusted contact person.” 

Meeting a need 

An advisor can contact this individual if the advisor believes the investor may be losing their ability to make sound financial decisions or could be vulnerable to financial exploitation or fraud. 

Much of the need for a trusted contact person is to protect investors at older ages when they may develop dementia or another cognitive impairment, but investors may also benefit from this help at a younger age. For example, someone who suffers a serious illness could be taken advantage of by a caregiver. 

An advisor’s unique position 

A wealth advisor may notice changes in an investor’s behaviour or signs of exploitation that could jeopardize their assets. Perhaps an investor is becoming confused about financial concepts they had understood before, or they’ve been making large, unexplained withdrawals. 

An advisor could reach out to the trusted contact person to discuss their concerns. The contact person might offer helpful information to the advisor, have a discussion with the investor or take other steps to address the situation. 

If you haven’t yet named a trusted contact person, consider naming a family member or close friend. Keep in mind, the Canadian Securities Administrators recommends that you choose a different person than your power of attorney or mandate representative, to provide an additional level of security.

Spring Clean Your Beneficiary Choices

Keeping your beneficiaries list up to date and current is important for many reasons.

This month KenMar Partner Marci Perreault shares some reasoning as to why this is an important step in planning and updating your Will if your circumstances change.

If you need any guidance or further explanation, please give Marci a call.

Marci Perreault, FLMI, CHS, CFP
Certified Financial Planner
KenMar Financial Services
Assante Financial Management Ltd.
Suite 300,  68 Chamberlain Ave
Ottawa ON  K1S 1V9
Phone 613-231-7700 EXT 223
FAX 613-231-7744

Mutual Funds provided through Assante Financial Management Ltd.

Spring Clean Your Beneficiary Choices

Say that the holder of a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) names their spouse as the beneficiary. Later, the couple divorces. The RRSP holder removes their ex-spouse from their will. However, with all the activity surrounding the divorce, they neglect to change the RRSP beneficiary designation from their ex-spouse to their child.

If the RRSP holder passes away before converting the plan to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF), the RRSP assets could go to the ex-spouse. It gets worse. The tax liability on the RRSP assets, equal to about half their value, must be paid by the estate, leaving even less for the child.

This scenario shows the need to ensure your beneficiary designations are all up to date.

Keep a beneficiary record

To begin, it’s helpful to keep an online or paper record of beneficiaries that you specified in your will and designated for all relevant financial vehicles. These may include an RRSP, RRIF, Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), life insurance policy or segregated fund.

Note that for registered plans, the beneficiary can be designated on the registered plan documentation in provinces other than Quebec. Residents of Quebec name their legatee (beneficiary) for each registered account in their will, not on the account form—with one exception. A legatee can be named on the form when the investment is an eligible insurance product, such as a segregated fund.

When to make a change

The most common reason to add or change a beneficiary is when you or someone in your family has a significant change in their life. Events or situations could be marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or the passing of a loved one. For example, someone remarries and names their new spouse as the beneficiary of their RRSP. Or an individual has a new grandchild and updates their will to add the grandchild as a beneficiary, also establishing a trust. Ideally, you update your beneficiary designations when the event arises. However, reviewing your choices from time to time allows you to catch any changes you may have overlooked.

Also, changes in your or a beneficiary’s financial situation or updates to your estate plan can call for a beneficiary review. Maybe a parent designated both children as beneficiaries of a vacation property, but recently one child moved out of the province—so there’s a decision to make. Or perhaps a retiree has a permanent life insurance policy no longer needed to protect the family, so they change the beneficiary from their spouse to a charity.

Changes to beneficiaries may be needed for a variety of reasons, including ones that are unique to your situation. Be sure to keep a record of your beneficiaries, and don’t wait too long before conducting a review.

Control The Inheritance You Leave To Your Heirs

This month, Marci Perreault, partner, KenMar Financial Services introduces us to a few reasons why establishing a trust could work for you. It’s enlightening and a quick snapshot into a few options available to you.

As always, it is important to discuss any questions you may have with your financial advisor.

Control The Inheritance You Leave To Your Heirs

If you were to imagine someone establishing a trust, you may picture an individual leaving their hilltop mansion and being driven by their chauffeur to stately law offices visited only by the rich and famous. In reality, a trust can be used by just about anyone to meet a variety of estate planning needs. One of the most common uses is controlling how an heir or heirs will receive their inheritance.

Trust basics

The person who establishes the trust is the settlor. The settlor appoints someone to manage the trust, called the trustee. This could be a friend, family member, professional or trust company. The beneficiary is the person who will ultimately receive income or capital according to the terms of the trust.

There are two basic types of trusts. An inter vivos trust, or living trust, takes effect during the settlor’s lifetime. A testamentary trust comes into effect upon the settlor’s passing. The following applications all use a testamentary trust.

Beneficiaries lacking financial expertise

It’s an uneasy feeling to leave a large lump sum of hard-earned money in a will to someone you suspect will spend it quickly and unwisely. A trust allows you to give explicit instructions to the trustee to control the inheritance, including the distribution amounts and frequency. A beneficiary may be trustworthy but require guidance in managing investments. By choosing a trustee with investment acumen, you can feel comfortable knowing the inheritance will be properly managed to meet income and growth needs.

Parent in a second marriage

If someone is in a second marriage and has children from their first marriage, estate planning can be a little different. Say the individual wants to provide for their current spouse but also wishes to leave an inheritance for the children from their first marriage. Several solutions are available, and one uses a spousal trust. The spouse would receive income from the trust, and possibly some capital, during their lifetime. When the spouse passes away, the trust assets would go to the children.

Caring for a child with special needs

Establishing a trust for a minor or adult child with special needs can help you be confident they’ll always be cared for in the best manner. A tax professional can advise you on how a trust can be set up without affecting government benefits.

A trust for minors

If you have beneficiaries who haven’t reached the age of majority, you can direct their inheritance to a trust. The trustee can manage the funds until each beneficiary reaches the age that you determine. At that point, a beneficiary can either receive a lump sum or periodic distributions according to the terms you establish.

Fulfill your personal preference

Trusts can be flexible. The terms and conditions you put in a trust are almost limitless and may primarily reflect your personal wishes. For example, a beneficiary may be financially reliable, but you might have their inheritance distributed periodically because you don’t want to chance a lump sum inheritance disrupting their work ethic. Or perhaps a settlor will make college or university graduation a condition of receiving their inheritance. A trust gives you the ability to help ensure the inheritance enhances a beneficiary’s life, rather than drastically changing it.

If you would like more information about trusts, contact us or talk with your lawyer or tax professional.

Should You Delay Drawing Your Old Age Security?

One thing we know for sure, people are retiring in numbers Stats Canada would liken to the original Baby Boom.

The number of Canadians who retired jumped almost 50 percent in the last year, according to recent data from Statistics Canada.
“The youngest baby boomers are the biggest demographic cohort, and they’re starting to get to retirement age,” said Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada.

In August, Statistics Canada released data showing a record-high 307,000 Canadians had retired over the previous 12 months, up from 233,000 a year earlier. That flood could well continue: Statistics Canada also reported that, in August, 11.9 cents of permanent employees were planning to leave their jobs within the next 12 months, 5.5 percentage points higher than in January.

Whether it’s age or Covid related angst or we are done with the day-to-day stress of work life when we draw our “Old Age Security,” it is something we should take into consideration. And by the way, is it just me, or do you take offense to “ Old Age Security”? My, have times changed.

Should you delay your OAS pension?

Last summer, Old Age Security (OAS) benefits permanently increased for the first time in almost 50 years. The payment increase is 10% and applies to seniors aged 75 and older.

This increase gets a further boost when seniors delay starting their OAS benefits. Monthly payments increase by 0.6% for each month you delay payments beyond the traditional age 65 start date. That’s a 7.2% increase for a one-year delay and a 36% increase for the maximum five-year delay at age 70.

Reasons to delay OAS payments

If you work beyond age 65, it often makes sense to delay OAS payments since you likely don’t need the pension income.

If you have retired by 65, the main reason to delay OAS payments is simply to gain additional financial security at older ages. You’ll receive a higher monthly benefit that’s indexed to inflation and guaranteed for life.

Why start at age 65?

Anyone who needs OAS benefits at age 65 to help support their retirement has an easy decision to begin when eligible.

Even if the income isn’t needed, there are several reasons to start at 65. It means drawing down less from retirement savings, which may leave more assets as an inheritance. Beginning payments at 65 ensures money isn’t left on the table if a retiree doesn’t live long enough to benefit from increased payments at older ages. In addition, retirees who expect their mandatory Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) withdrawals to result in a clawback of OAS benefits at age 71 may want to start receiving OAS payments at 65.

Ensure Family Harmony When Planning Your Estate

When you leave an inheritance to your loved ones, you intend to give each person some welcome help in meeting their financial and life goals. No one wants an inheritance to cause discord among the beneficiaries. Unfortunately, that can happen in certain situations if plans aren’t shared with beneficiaries in advance. 

By communicating your plans, you can find out if each person is comfortable with what you have in mind. If you discover that someone feels they’re not being treated fairly, or that your plans might strain the beneficiaries’ relationships, you can make changes to remedy the situation. 

Generally, three types of situations may lead to inheritance troubles:

  • When siblings’ inheritances of cash or financial investments are intended to be fair but are not equal 
  • When a property is being shared 
  • When one beneficiary receives an indivisible asset

Fair versus equal 
Some parents face a situation where they question if it’s fair to divide an inheritance equally. If one child is a well-paid chief executive officer and the other faces health issues and has often been unemployed, do they receive the same inheritance? If parents gifted one child the down payment on a home, is that amount deducted from their share? If one child left their job to care for their aging parent, does that child receive a larger inheritance? When a parent wants to give inheritances that aren’t equal, it’s best to have a discussion with children to make sure they accept the plan. 

Sharing a property
Siblings may have different ideas on what to do with an inherited property. Say that a parent handed down a vacation property that had been in the family for generations to their three children. Two of the children want to keep the property, but one wants to sell it and use the proceeds to fund their children’s education. Situations like this do arise and can lead to bitterness between siblings. If you find out in advance about your children’s wishes, you can work with your advisor to develop a solution that is acceptable to all. 

When an asset won’t be shared 
What happens when only one child will be taking over the family farm or small business, or inheriting the vacation property? You need to find a way to compensate the other child or children. If there won’t be enough cash or other assets available to equalize the inheritance, you could consider naming the other children as beneficiaries of a permanent life insurance policy on your life. Whatever solution you choose, it’s important that all children agree it’s fair to everyone.

Prepare Your Executor

Unless you prepare properly, your executor could end up feeling more like a detective. Where are receipts for the final tax return? Where’s the life insurance policy? What, there’s an old bank account from 20 years ago? The job of the executor is involved enough without having to search for information and documents that could’ve been placed at their fingertips.

Note that we’ll use the term “executor,” but the person designated to administer an estate may be called a personal representative, liquidator or estate trustee, depending on the province.

Make a directory

Whether you do it electronically or on paper, you should have a document or binder that lists all the information your executor will need. You’ll record contact information for your lawyer, advisor, accountant and beneficiaries. List the location of your will, tax returns, insurance policies and any other important documents. Record all assets, including investment accounts, real estate, valuables and private company shares. Also record mortgages, credit cards, loans and lines of credit. Provide bank account information, including bank contacts, safety deposit box location and your online passwords. Other items include online utility payments, subscriptions and digital assets. Any information your executor needs to settle your affairs should be included in this directory.

Explain your decisions

You should discuss any items in the will where you can offer insight or information that helps explain your intentions. For example, say that a nephew is to receive a substantially smaller amount than a niece. But that’s because you had helped out the nephew financially when he launched a business. That’s a piece of information that could prove helpful to the executor.

What if privacy is important? You may have personal information in the will you don’t yet want to reveal to your executor, and that’s fine. The point isn’t to share every detail – it’s to discuss your intentions regarding matters where clarification will be helpful to the executor.

Communicate funeral plans

No one looks forward to planning their own funeral, but it’s important to either make your own arrangements or communicate your wishes. If funeral and burial plans aren’t clear, the unfortunate result could be a dispute among family members. Depending on the province, the executor or family members are responsible for carrying out funeral arrangements, but either way, you should communicate your plans to the executor.

Confirm your executor’s interest

If the person you designated has not been an executor before, this process of preparation might demonstrate that executorship is more involved than they expected. Check in with the individual to make sure they remain interested. You can also consider getting help for your executor by having a corporate executor manage the more involved tasks.

Managing Your RRIF Withdrawals Effectively

Each year, you’re required to make a minimum Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) withdrawal, calculated as a percentage of your RRIF assets. The percentage is based on your age, and it increases each year. Every withdrawal is taxed as regular income, but several strategies can help reduce the impact of the tax liability. 

Use your younger spouse’s age 

When you establish your RRIF, you can have your required annual withdrawal based on the age of your spouse. If your spouse is younger, you lock in a lower minimum payment that reduces your annual tax bill.

Split RRIF income 

RRIF income qualifies as eligible pension income for pension income splitting. If you’re 65 or older, you can split up to 50% of your RRIF income with your lower-income spouse to reduce your combined tax bill. 

Trigger the pension income tax credit 

You can implement this strategy at age 65 when you don’t actually need the RRIF income. To put it into practice, open a RRIF, but only transfer enough Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) funds to enable you to withdraw $2,000 from your RRIF each year from ages 65 to 71. The $2,000 withdrawal qualifies as pension income, triggering an annual 15% credit on your tax return. 

Customize withdrawal amounts 

Determining the amount of annual RRIF withdrawals that best suits your situation depends on your other income sources, age, marital status, tax situation and other factors. So it’s important to work with your advisor to plan withdrawals. One person might withdraw only the minimum required amount to keep their annual tax bill lower. Another retiree may withdraw larger amounts because the tax on the payments is less than the tax their estate would pay on those RRIF assets. 

Plan initial spousal RRIF withdrawals 

Planning is essential if you withdraw funds from a spousal RRSP or RRIF when you have contributed to the spousal RRSP in the year of the withdrawal or during the previous two calendar years. Payments up to the minimum RRIF withdrawal amount are taxable to the lower-income spouse, but any payments exceeding this amount would be taxable to the contributor. 

Use your Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

If you don’t need the minimum RRIF amount to support your retirement right away, you can contribute the funds to your TFSA, provided you have contribution room. Although you pay tax on the withdrawal, the funds can now grow in a tax-free environment. 

Make in-kind withdrawals 

You also have another option beyond selling investments and withdrawing cash. You can take your withdrawal in kind, transferring the investments to a non-registered account or TFSA. This allows you to keep investments you believe hold promise.


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