Real Estate or Investments?

One of the age-old financial quandaries asked of financial advisors is “shall I invest in property or funds?”. Predictably, the answer is not at all straightforward and depends on many factors, including your own financial style, personality and circumstances. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each choice to help you to be better informed about which could be the most lucrative option for you:

Benefits of investing in funds

It’s all too easy to go along with the generally-accepted myth that investing in property is a sure-fire way to secure your financial future. After all, house prices have appreciated in general terms for several years now and have become a very popular way for young people to invest for the future – this could also be, in part, down to the fact that their parents have benefited from the property booms of the past and made their own money this way, therefore presume the same will work for their children.

It’s fair to say, then, that investing the stock market is a much less common and popular way for people to invest their money. Despite market crashes, long term fund ownership is hands down the greatest creator of wealth in history and high quality funds generally not only increase their profits every year but also pay out increased cash dividends too.

Other advantages of fund ownership include the fact that you can diversify your portfolio easily, borrow against your funds easily and also benefit from the fact that funds are much more liquid than real estate, giving you maximum financial flexibility.

So, why do fewer people invest in funds than real estate?

It could be due to the two market crashes that have occurred since 2000, making people wary of getting involved in what they perhaps see as a complex and inherently risky way to make money. Many fail to take the long-term view of funds and the fact that, to financially benefit in the best way, you need to ride the highs and lows for a number of years to get a good return on your initial investment.

Another reason could be the fact that many people underestimate the real cost of home ownership. Additional costs such as maintenance, insurance and mortgage interest must be factored into investment calculations but are often not, making property a seemingly more attractive investment option.

Drawbacks of investing in funds

You really have to be in this game for the long term to see your money grow consistently and many people don’t have the discipline or patience to hold their nerve and keep their money in the same place for a prolonged period. This can often result in cashing in one’s funds too early and missing out on long term benefits. Similarly, because the prices of funds can fluctuate so much, many are too nervous about investing and don’t see the opportunities to purchase more funds at reduced prices to benefit them in the long term.

Benefits of investing in real estate

Many individuals in their twenties and thirties who are just starting out thinking about how best to secure their financial future feel more comfortable with investing in property and the notion of “owning one’s own home” – likely brought about by their parents’ influence, as discussed above. They perhaps feel more confident in the process, terminology and philosophy of real estate and believe that they are more likely to succeed in this area.

Another benefit could be the fact that, by purchasing a property, you feel that you own something tangible, as opposed to the money invested in funds and shares which could be said to exist only online or on paper.

Finally, many take comfort from the fact that it is potentially harder to be defrauded in relation to real estate as there are so many varied, physical checks that one can perform to verify the facts, such as property inspections, tenant background checks etc, whereas with funds, a lot of trust has to be given to the management company or auditors.

Drawbacks of investing in real estate

There are a number of hidden costs to real estate, particularly if your property is unoccupied for a period of time and you are still liable to pay taxes, maintenance etc. It’s also true that the maintenance of a property can be a time consuming as well as an expensive business, due to the requirement to deal with routine as well as emergency issues.

What’s more, it’s true that the actual value of real estate hardly ever increases in inflation-adjusted terms, therefore the returns can be healthy but the true value of the property doesn’t actually change. It’s due to this that many feel that investing in funds is a much more solid and lucrative way to receive good returns.

Talk to us, we can help you determine what works best for you.

 

 

Paying for Education

Post-secondary education can be expensive, however having the opportunity to plan for it helps with making sure that you’re capable to meet the costs of education. In addition, when you have a plan, it’s easier to make financial decisions that align with your goals and provide peace of mind. In the infographic, we outline 7 sources of funds for paying for post-secondary education:

  • Registered Education Savings Plan

  • Tax Free Savings Account

  • Life Insurance

  • Scholarships, grants, bursaries

  • Personal Loans, Lines of Credit

  • Government Student Loan

  • Personal Savings

If you need help planning to save for your child’s post-secondary education, contact us!

Financial Advice

An advisor can help you determine where you are today financially and where you want to go. An advisor can provide you guidance on how to reach your short, medium and long term financial goals.

Why work with a Financial Advisor? 

  • Worry less about money and gain control. 

  • Organize your finances. 

  • Prioritize your goals. 

  • Focus on the big picture. 

  • Save money to reach your goals.

What can a Financial Advisor help you with? 

Advisors can help you with accumulation and protection

Accumulation: 

  • Cash Management – Savings and Debt

  • Tax Planning

  • Investments

Protection: 

  • Insurance Planning

  • Health Insurance

  • Estate Planning

How do you start? 

  • Establish and define the financial advisor-client relationship.

  • Gather information about current financial situation and goals including lifestyle goals. 

  • Analyze and evaluate current financial status. 

  • Develop and present strategies and solutions to achieve goals. 

  • Implement recommendations. 

  • Monitor and review recommendations. Adjust if necessary. 

Next steps…

  • Talk to us about helping you get your finances in order so you can achieve your lifestyle and financial goals. 

  • Feel confident in knowing you have a plan to get to your goals.

Why You Should Consider Critical Illness Insurance

If I did a straw poll, I’m sure I’d find that the majority of those asked have some form of life insurance. The reasoning behind taking out this cover is usually centered around the desire to provide protection and security to their family and loved ones in the event of their death, which is clearly an admirable objective. But, if I asked the same group of people who of them had critical illness insurance – essentially, a policy that pays out if you become too ill to work – in all likelihood the number would be much smaller.

Why is this? It makes sense on paper that people would want to sustain their level of income in the event that they become disabled or too ill to work, yet some of the most common objections include the price, a preference to save themselves for such an event (often known as being self-insured) or simply a sense of denial that this could ever happen to them.

Critical illness insurance varies from policy to policy but typical conditions that it covers in Canada includes heart attack, stroke and cancer. Unlike other types of insurance that provide income replacement, if you are seriously ill, critical illness insurance provides a lump sum benefit that can be used in any way you choose.

The benefits of critical illness insurance

Whilst taking out any kind of insurance policy comes down to personal choice and one’s own individual circumstances, many independent financial experts recognize the benefits that critical illness insurance can offer. Here are some of them:

  • Whilst saving and self-insuring can seem like an attractive alternative, it simply isn’t an option for many. Even if you are fortunate enough to have the means to save for such an eventuality, you would need to be able to guarantee a solid and consistent return on your investment for it to outweigh the financial benefit of critical illness insurance – some estimates put this at a rate of around 10% return for 20 years.

  • Whilst some employers do offer company disability plans, they typically do not pay out the full amount of your pay cheque on an ongoing basis, which can have the potential to have a serious impact on your personal finances, just when you need such a worry the least. What’s more, one of the major advantages of a critical illness policy is that, if you are able to return to work and therefore begin earning again, you still have the benefit of the lump sum that has been paid out under the policy – offering you an incomparable measure of financial freedom to potentially pay off your mortgage or put your kids through university. Essentially, offering you much more financial freedom.

In short, there are no perfect answers in the area of your personal finances, but if you are looking for an option that has the potential to offer you a real sense of peace of mind to secure the financial future of you and your family, critical illness insurance is certainly an interesting avenue to explore.

Do you need an estate plan?

Managing your finances raises a number of topics but none as tricky and potentially unpleasant as planning for your family and finances in the event that you pass away or become incapacitated. Understandably, these questions are often ignored by many—but don’t fall into the trap of avoiding these difficult matters. Good estate planning will help to make sure that your wishes are carried out, and your family and assets are well protected.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the key areas that you should consider when designing your estate plan:

  • Choosing a guardian – One of the most important considerations is who you select to become the legal guardian of your children. This is a very personal and complex decision, and you will consider several unique factors depending on your circumstances, but your principal concerns might be how physically able the person is to look after your children, as well as such practical matters as how close they live to you and their personal and financial situation and stability.

  • Life insurance and trusts – Life insurance gives your family the financial security to continue their standard of living and fulfil their dreams in the event that you are unable to provide for them yourself. Life insurance payouts can be used in various ways, including paying off debts, paying for college education, or simply helping with general living costs.

 

A trust is a way of specifying how and when you wish to pass money and other resources to your children. It can be an excellent way of ensuring that their inheritance reaches them before the age of eighteen or twenty-one, unlike a court-controlled process, as you will stipulate who manages and distributes the funds.

·      Choosing someone to make decisions on your behalf

It is crucial to make sure that somebody trustworthy is nominated to manage and distribute your various assets according to your wishes. This executor can be anybody, though spouses, older children, or close friends are often common choices. Similarly, if you become too sick to make your own decisions about your finances or your family’s care, a health care directive and a power of attorney will give you peace of mind and go a long way towards protecting your assets.

Now that we understand the key areas that should be considered in estate planning, here are some of the important components or documents involved in the process:

·      Will, trusts, and beneficiary forms

Both a will and a trust should detail your assets and how you wish them to be distributed when you die, as well as assigning the guardians of your children. However, one benefit that a trust has over a will is that a trust does not have to go through probate prior to being executed, as well as the option of coming into effect before you pass away; it remains under your control and transfers the role of trustee to someone else when you decease.

 

Beneficiary forms are slightly different. They assign designated beneficiaries to specific financial accounts such as mortgages and bank accounts. As this information holds more legal weight than a will itself, it is crucial to regularly ensure that your beneficiaries are up to date.

 

·      Durable powers of attorney

The term power of attorney refers to the person, or persons, that you nominate to act on your behalf in the event that you are too ill to state or carry out your own wishes. There are various ways to implement this; you can choose specific individuals for particular roles, such as one person to look after your finances and another to make your healthcare decisions, or you can designate one person full power of attorney to manage all of your affairs.

 

·      A living will

Not to be confused with a last will and testament, a living will details the type of medical treatment that you wish if you were ever incapacitated. Along with a general or healthcare power of attorney (see above), this document is known as your advance health care directive, and it not only provides you with peace of mind that your medical wishes will be respected, but it also gives direction and support to your family when faced with difficult decisions about your care.

 

·      Letter of intent

This document is not legally binding and can offer a more personal touch alongside an official will or trust. As the letter is less formal and binding than other documents, many people use it to express their wishes about more personal aspects such as their requests for funeral arrangements, or even preferences and desires for how their family should be brought up.

As with any financial arrangement, changes over time, not only in process and legislation but in your own personal situation, mean that it is imperative to keep your estate planning strategy under review and regularly updated to ensure it’s fit for its purpose and accurately reflects your wishes. 

Wealth Protection – Disability Insurance

Everybody understands the value of life insurance and most of us who take our finances seriously have a solid life insurance policy in place. But what happens if you are unlucky enough to sustain a serious illness, chronic disease or disability which prevents you from working? Such a scenario could be disastrous for your family finances and this is where disability insurance comes in.

What is disability insurance?

Disability insurance provides you with a portion of your income in the event that you suffer from an illness or accident which means that you can’t work, either temporarily or on a permanent basis.

Studies show that you are actually more likely to sustain a disability during the course of your working life than to die whilst of working age. A disability can have a dramatic and long-term impact on your earning potential – in fact, the Council for Disability Awareness has found that the average absence from work for a long term disability is nearly three years.*

Types of disability insurance

There are two main types of policy – short-term and long-term disability insurance.

Short-term disability insurance generally offers the policyholder a maximum of 6 months of benefits.

Long-term disability insurance usually kicks in at the end of a short-term disability insurance. Policies differ in terms of the length of time that they offer benefits for and the criteria that must be fulfilled to be eligible.

An important factor in this regard is the definition of “regular or own occupation” or “any occupation”. A “regular or own occupation” policy covers you if you are unable to work in any capacity – meaning that, even if you could perform a role different to the one that you worked in prior to your disability, you will still receive benefits under the plan. Alternatively, an “any occupation” policy means that you will only receive disability benefits if you are unable to work at all.

It’s important to figure out which type of policy suits you better, depending on the cost of the premiums, the type of work that you do and your personal preference. We can help you with this.

Factors to consider when taking out disability insurance

  • How much do you or your family depend on your income?

Dependency is the key question here – if you have a spouse, children and/or other individuals who rely on your income contribution to the household finances, disability insurance is likely to be valuable to you.

However, it is likely that, as you age and your children become less financially dependent on you or you have saved enough retirement funds to help you through a potential early retirement due to ill health, disability insurance becomes less fundamental.

  • How much does your company plan protect you?

Some companies offer a disability policy and this is a common reason for people failing to purchase a personal plan. However, it’s important to understand the level of coverage that your company policy offers you, as it is common for such plans to only replace a small proportion of your income (often capped) across a short-term basis which is unlikely to be sufficient for your needs.

  • Work out your budget and shop around for the best deal

You could benefit from working with an independent financial advisor to help you in the purchase of your disability insurance. They will be able to search the market in order to find you a customized plan which fits your budget, rather than falling back on off-the-shelf policies which may not meet your individual requirements as well.

  • Don’t cut back on your level of coverage where possible

That said, it’s easy to underestimate the level of disability coverage that you actually need should the worst happen. Not only would you have to replace your existing expenditure, but you are likely to accumulate new expenses if you were to become disabled, such as the purchase of medical equipment, healthcare or home help, additional childcare, home renovations etc. Make sure that the benefits that your policy pays out are sufficient to cover all of your financial needs adequately.


Key questions to ask when purchasing disability insurance


There can be a lot of small-print involved in a disability insurance policy. Make sure that you understand the answers to the following, non-exhaustive questions before proceeding:

  • Terms and conditions of the policy- Including how disability is defined, which conditions are eligible and which are excluded and if pre-existing conditions are covered and, if so, to what extent.

  • Policy premiums- Including the total cost of the policy and whether contributions are still required if you are diagnosed with a disability and claiming on the plan.

  • Benefits of the plan- Including the level of benefits you will receive, whether they are adjusted for future inflation and whether they are taxable, any waiting periods for receiving premiums and how a disability is diagnosed.

  • Group plans- Including how the plan is funded (by an insurance company or self-funded by your employer), how your benefits will be affected if the company goes bankrupt and how your coverage will be treated if you leave your job.

Disability insurance is an important cornerstone to achieving your financial goals. Talk to us, we can help.

What’s a Financial Plan?

A financial plan looks at where you are today and where you want to go. It determines your short, medium and long term financial goals and how you can reach them.

Why do you need a Financial Plan?

  • Worry less about money and gain control.

  • Organize your finances.

  • Prioritize your goals.

  • Focus on the big picture.

  • Save money to reach your goals.

What does a Financial Plan include?

There are 2 main sides your financial plan should address: Accumulation and Protection

Accumulation:

  • Cash Management – Savings and Debt

  • Tax Planning

  • Investments

Protection:

  • Insurance Planning

  • Health Insurance

  • Estate Planning

What’s the Financial Planning Process?

  • Establish and define the financial planner-client relationship.

  • Gather information about current financial situation and goals including lifestyle goals.

  • Analyze and evaluate current financial status.

  • Develop and present strategies and solutions to achieve goals.

  • Implement recommendations.

  • Monitor and review recommendations. Adjust if necessary.

Next steps…

  • Talk to us about helping you get your finances in order so you can achieve your lifestyle and financial goals.

  • Feel confident in knowing you have a plan to get to your goals.

Tax Lines to Look Out for 2018 Income Tax Year

Tax Lines to Look Out for:

2018 Income Tax Year

It’s that time of year again, when many of us sit down to complete our income tax return and hope that we have done enough preparation to ensure a smooth tax return. We’ve outlined the key lines to look out for in the 2018 Income Tax Year:

Expenses relating to medical expenses have been expanded to include service animals and can be claimed for non-refundable tax credit. You should also be aware that you can claim for yourself, your spouse or common law partner and any dependent children under the age of 18.

Tax on Split Income (TOSI) (Line 424)

As of January 1, 2018, in addition to applying to certain types of income of a child born in 2001 or later, TOSI may now also apply to amounts received by adult individuals from a related business.

Interest Expense & Carrying Charges (Line 221)

Any fees paid for specific advice about your investments or for tracking your income from investments.

Any fees paid for management of your investments, except administration fees paid for your registered retirement savings plan or registered retirement income fund.

Interest you paid to borrow when borrowing to invest for investment income only except if investment income is considered capital gains.

Insurance policy loan interest you paid in 2018 to make income. To claim this amount, the insurance company must complete Form T2210 before your tax return deadline.

Carry forward information (Line 208 and 253)

If you are not deducting all your RRSP contributions you made in 2018 and the beginning of 2019, your unused contributions can be carried forward.

Generally, if you had an allowable capital loss in a year, you have to apply it against your taxable capital gains for that year. If you still have a loss, it becomes part of the computation of your current year net capital loss. You can use a current year net capital loss to reduce your taxable capital gains in any of the 3 preceding years or in any future year. Capital losses can be carried forward indefinitely and are only deductible against capital gains.

Charitable Donations

As of January 1, 2018, the first-time donor’s super credit has been eliminated.

If you owe money when your income tax return is complete, the only way to delay payment is to delay the filing until the April 30th deadline. Alternatively, if CRA owes you money, then file as early as possible.

This article and infographic are for illustrative purposes only. You should always seek independent legal, tax, financial and accounting advice with regard to your situation.

2019 Federal Budget

2019 Federal Budget

The 2019 budget is titled “Investing in the Middle Class. Here are the highlights from the 2019 Federal Budget.

We’ve put together the key measures for:

  • Individuals and Families

  • Business Owners and Executives

  • Retirement and Retirees

  • Farmers and Fishers

Individuals & Families

Home Buyers’ Plan

Currently, the Home Buyers’ Plan allows first time home buyers to withdraw $25,000 from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), the budget proposes an increase this to $35,000.

First Time Home Buyer Incentive

The Incentive is to provide eligible first-time home buyers with shared equity funding of 5% or 10% of their home purchase price through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

To be eligible:

  • Household income is less than $120,000.

  • There is a cap of no more than 4 times the applicant’s annual income where the mortgage value plus the CMHC loan doesn’t exceed $480,000.

The buyer must pay back CMHC when the property is sold, however details about the dollar amount payable is unclear. There will be further details released later this year.

Canada Training Benefit

A refundable training tax credit to provide up to half eligible tuition and fees associated with training. Eligible individuals will accumulate $250 per year in a notional account to a maximum of $5,000 over a lifetime.

Canadian Drug Agency

National Pharmacare program to help provinces and territories on bulk drug purchases and negotiate better prices for prescription medicine. According to the budget, the goal is to make “prescription drugs affordable for all Canadians.”

Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)

The budget proposes to remove the limitation on the period that a RDSP may remain open after a beneficiary becomes ineligible for the disability tax credit. (DTC) and the requirement for medical certification for the DTC in the future in order for the plan to remain open.

This is a positive change for individuals in the disability community and the proposed measures will apply after 2020.

Business Owners and Executives

Intergenerational Business Transfer

The government will continue consultations with farmers, fishes and other business owners throughout 2019 to develop new proposals to facilitate the intergenerational transfers of businesses.

Employee Stock Options

The introduction of a $200,000 annual cap on employee stock option grants (based on Fair market value) that may receive preferential tax treatment for employees of “large, long-established, mature firms.” More details will be released before this summer.

Retirement and Retirees

Additional types of Annuities under Registered Plans

For certain registered plans, two new types of annuities will be introduced to address longevity risk and providing flexibility: Advanced Life Deferred Annuity and Variable Payment Life Annuity.

This will allow retirees to keep more savings tax-free until later in retirement.

Advanced Life Deferred Annuity (ALDA): An annuity whose commencement can be deferred until age 85. It limits the amount that would be subject to the RRIF minimum, and it also pushes off the time period to just short of age 85.

Variable Payment Life Annuity (VPLA): Permit Pooled Retirement Pension Plans (PRPP) and defined contribution Registered Retirement Plans (RPP) to provide a VPLA to members directly from the plan. A VPLA will provide payments that vary based on the investment performance of the underlying annuities fund and on the mortality experience of VPLA annuitants.

Farmers and Fishers

Small Business Deduction

Farming/Fishing will be entitled to claim a small business deduction on income from sales to any arm’s length purchaser. Producers will be able to market their grain and livestock to the purchaser that makes the most business sense without worrying about potential income tax issues. This measure will apply retroactive to any taxation years that began after March 21, 2016.

To learn how the budget affects you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.