How to Provide for the Family Cottage

How to Provide for the Family Cottage

As you plan your estate—the legacy you are leaving your children—have you considered the tax burden they face to hold onto the family cottage? Your principal residence is tax exempt, but any capital gains on a secondary property will be fully taxed. That bill could be so high it can prevent your family from keeping their beloved holiday home.

You might transfer ownership to one of your family members. But during probate the property will still be assessed at fair market value—this is called deemed disposition. So, although it makes ownership clear, the tax burden remains.

Over the years that you have owned your vacation property, its value may have increased substantially.

Here’s an example of what your family could face.

The cottage purchased decades ago at $150,000 is now worth $1.8 million. The capital gains will be assessed at $1,650.000. In Canada, only 50% of this is taxable, which is good news. So, the cottage is assessed at $825,000 of taxable gain. This 50% inclusion rate is also under review right now and may be increased, but we’ll discuss that another time.

This amount of capital gains will result in at least a 50% tax rate, for an estimated bill of $412,000. Just to keep something you already own! How will your family afford this? Their options are to sell it or go into debt just to keep that lovely property.

There’s a great alternative available. You can purchase a ‘joint last-to-die’ insurance policy with enough value to cover the tax bill.

For two relatively healthy spouses, 80 years old, the estimated cost of a policy to cover that tax bill will be somewhere around $25,000 yearly. Should the couple live another 5 years, this will amount to $124,000; 10 years will cost $240,000—far less than the tax bill of $412,000. To estimate the cost for spouses who are currently 70 years old, cut these figures roughly in half.

Generally, up to the age of 85, there are still insurance options available. But one of the spouses must be relatively healthy for their age.

Purchase a joint last-to-die policy to save your family a lot of money—and save the family cottage. Ask your Financial Advisor for more information about protecting your family’s vacation dreams.

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