10 Essential Decisions for Business Owners

10 Essential Decisions for Business Owners

Business owners can be busy… they’re busy running a successful business, wearing lots of hats and making a ton of decisions. We’ve put together a list of 10 essential decisions for every business owner to consider.

10 essential decisions for a business owner from considering corporate structure to retirement and succession planning. 

The essential questions include:

  • Best structure for your business (ex. Sole Proprietor, Corporation, Partnership)

  • Reduce taxes

  • What to do with surplus cash

  • Build employee loyalty

  • Reduce risk

  • Deal with the unexpected

  • Retire from your business

  • Sell your business

  • Keep your business in the family

  • What to do when you’re retired

As a financial advisor, we are uniquely positioned to help business owners, talk to us about your situation and we can provide the guidance you need.

Estate Planning for Business Owners

Estate Planning for Business Owners

What happens when the children grow up and they are no longer dependent on their parents? What happens to your other “baby”- the business? Estate planning for business owners deals with the personal and business assets. Business succession planning is different because it deals with your business assets only and can also take place while you’re alive. You need to have an estate plan regardless if you have a succession plan or not. Estate planning for business owners is typically more complicated because the estate plan needs to deal with:

  • Complex business and personal relationships

  • Bigger and more intricate estates

  • Tax issues

  • Business Succession

When putting an estate plan for a business owner together, one of the most difficult conversations is around fair or equal distribution of assets. What if one of the children are working in the business how do you treat them? Before you begin putting a plan in place, we always encourage open conversation and a family meeting between the parents and children to provide context behind decisions and therefore it minimizes the surprises and provides an opportunity for children to express their concerns.

We’ve put together an infographic checklist that can help you get started on this. We know this can be a difficult conversation so we’re here to help and provide guidance.

Adult Children

  • Fair vs Equal (also known as Equitable vs Equal) – like what’s considered to be fair may not necessarily be equal. ex. Should the daughter that’s been working in the family business for 10 years receive the same shares as the son who hasn’t worked in the family business at all?

  • Are the adult children responsible enough to handle the inheritance? Or would they spend it all?

  • Who works in the family business? Is it all the kids or just one of them?

Family Meeting

  • Encourage open conversation with parents and kids so context can be provided behind the decisions, there are no surprises and allows the kids to express their interests and concerns.

  • Facilitate a family meeting with both generations, this will help promote ongoing family unity after death and decrease the chances of resentment later.

  • Start looking at considerations for a succession plan for the business. (This needs to be documented separately.)

Assets/Liabilities

  • What are your assets? Create a detailed list of your assets such as:

  • Home, Real Estate, Investments- Non registered, TFSA, RRSP, RDSP, RESP, Company Pension Plan, Insurance Policy, Property, Additional revenue sources, etc…

  • What about shares in your business? How does this need to be addressed?

  • What are your liabilities? Create a detailed list of your liabilities such as:

  • Mortgage, Loans (personal, student, car), Line of Credit, Credit card, Other loans (payday, store credit card, utility etc.)

  • Did you personally guarantee any business loans and how does this need to be addressed?

  • Understand your assets-the ownership type (joint, tenants in common, sole etc.), list who are the beneficiaries are for your assets

  • Understand your liabilities- are there any cosigners?

Make sure you have a will that:

  • Assigns an executor.

  • Provide specific instructions for distribution of all assets.

  • Consider a power of attorney for use when you’re incapacitated or otherwise unable to handle your affairs.

  • Always choose 2 qualified people for each position and communicate with them.

Taxes and Probate

  • How much are probate and taxes? (Income tax earned from Jan 1 to date of death + Taxes on Non Registered Assets + Taxes on Registered Assets, Taxes on Business Shares)

  • Are there any outstanding debts to be paid?

  • You’ve worked your whole life- how much of your hard earned money do you want to give to CRA?

  • How much money do you want to to give to your kids while you’re living?

Consider the following:

  • The use of trusts.

  • The use of an estate freeze if you wish to gift while you’re living.

  • The use of a holdco for effective tax planning.

  • Once you determine the amount of taxes, probate, debt, final expenses and gifts required, review your life insurance coverage to see if it meets your needs or if there’s a shortfall.

Execution:It’s good to go through this but you need to do this. Besides doing it yourself, here’s a list of the individuals that can help:

  • Financial Planner/Advisor (CFP)

  • Estate Planning Specialist

  • Insurance Specialist

  • Lawyer

  • Accountant/Tax Specialist

  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)

  • Chartered Executor Advisor (CEA)

Next steps…

  • Contact us about helping you get your estate planning in order so you can gain peace of mind that your family is taken care of.

When and Why You Should Conduct an Insurance Audit

As our lives grow and change with variable circumstances, new additions, and job transitions, our needs for insurance will also evolve. Additionally, economic fluctuations and external circumstances that influence your insurance policy will need frequent re-evaluation to ensure that you are making the most appropriate and financially favorable decisions. Perhaps you aren’t sure whether you should conduct an insurance audit or not. The following scenarios are usually a good indication that you should thoroughly assess and review your current policy contract: 

  • Bringing new life into your family? A new baby may not only prompt you to adjust your beneficiary information, but it is likely to change or influence your coverage needs.

  • Changing jobs? Probationary periods may not provide the same level of disability or accident insurance.

  • Is your policy nearing the end of its term? Be sure to compare prices for new policies as they can sometimes be more affordable as compared to renewing the current plan.

  • Has your marital status changed? Your insurance policy will likely need updating to reflect such.

The specific type of insurance policy you carry as well as personal details certainly influence coverage and premium prices, so if any of the following factors apply to you, be sure to update your policy accordingly. You might be eligible for a rate reduction. 

  • Changes to your overall risk assessment like smoking cessation, dangerous hobbies, high risk profession etc.

  • If you have experienced improvements to a previously diagnosed health condition.

  • Do your policy’s investment options still fall in line with current market conditions?

  • Have you used your insurance policy as collateral for a loan? Once that loan is paid off, collateral status should be taken off the policy.

Insurance policies generated for business purposes should also be regularly reviewed to make sure the policy still offers adequate coverage to meet the needs of the company and includes the appropriate beneficiary information. With life happening so quickly, it can be easy to forget about keeping insurance policies up to date, however, major changes can have a profound impact on coverage and premiums. Be sure to conduct insurance audits often to ensure your policies are still meeting your needs. 

Contact us to see how we can help. 

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.

 

 

Do you REALLY need life insurance?

You most likely do, but the more important question is, What kind? Whether you’re a young professional starting out, a devoted parent or a successful CEO, securing a life insurance policy is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make in your adult life. Most people would agree that having financial safety nets in place is a good way to make sure that your loved ones will be taken care of when you pass away. Insurance can also help support your financial obligations and even take care of your estate liabilities. The tricky part, however, is figuring out what kind of life insurance best suits your goals and needs. This quick guide will help you decide what life insurance policy is best for you, depending on who needs to benefit from it and how long you’ll need it.

Permanent or Term?

Life insurance can be classified into two principal types: permanent or term. Both have different strengths and weaknesses, depending on what you aim to achieve with your life insurance policy.

Term life insurance provides death benefits for a limited amount of time, usually for a fixed number of years. Let’s say you get a 30-year term. This means you’ll only pay for each year of those 30 years. If you die before the 30-year period, then your beneficiaries shall receive the death benefits they are entitled to. After the period, the insurance shall expire. You will no longer need to pay premiums, and your beneficiaries will no longer be entitled to any benefits.

Term life insurance is right for you if you are:

  • The family breadwinner. Death benefits will replace your income for the years that you will have been working, in order to support your family’s needs.

  • A stay-at-home parent. You can set your insurance policy term to cover the years that your child will need financial support, especially for things that you would normally provide as a stay-at-home parent, such as childcare services.

  • A divorced parent. Insurance can cover the cost of child support, and the term can be set depending on how long you need to make support payments.

  • A mortgagor. If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you can set up your term insurance to cover the years that you have to make payments. This way, your family won’t have to worry about losing their home.

  • A debtor with a co-signed debt. If you have credit card debt or student loans, a term life insurance policy can cover your debt payments. The term can be set to run for the duration of the payments.

  • A business owner. If you’re a business owner, you may need either a term or permanent life insurance, depending on your needs. If you’re primarily concerned with paying off business debts, then a term life insurance may be your best option.

Unlike term life insurance, a permanent life insurance does not expire. This means that your beneficiaries can receive death benefits no matter when you die. Aside from death benefits, a permanent life insurance policy can also double as a savings plan. A certain portion of your premiums can build cash value, which you may “withdraw” or borrow for future needs. You can do well with a permanent life insurance policy if you:

  • …Have a special needs child. As a special needs child will most likely need support for health care and other expenses even as they enter adulthood. Your permanent life insurance can provide them with death benefits any time within their lifetime.

  • …Want to leave something for your loved ones. Regardless of your net worth, permanent life insurance will make sure that your beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to. If you have a high net worth, permanent life insurance can take care of estate taxes. Otherwise, they will still get even a small inheritance through death benefits.

  • …Want to make sure that your funeral expenses are covered. Final expense insurance can provide coverage for funeral expenses for smaller premiums.

  • …Have maximized your retirement plans. As permanent life insurance may also come with a savings component, this can also be used to help you out during retirement.

  • …Own a business. As mentioned earlier, business owners may need either permanent or term, depending on their needs.

A permanent insurance policy can help pay off estate taxes, so that the successors can inherit the business worry-free. Different people have different financial needs, so there is no one-sized-fits-all approach to choosing the right insurance policy for you. Talk to us now, and find out how a permanent or term life insurance can best give you security and peace of mind.

2019 Ontario Budget

2019 Ontario Budget

The 2019 budget for Ontario was announced by Vic Fedeli, Finance Minister, giving details of a deficit of $11.7 billion for 2018-19 and $10.3 billion for 2019-20. Below are details of the key changes in relation to personal and corporate finances.

Personal

The budget did not announce changes to personal tax rates.

Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit

Effective the 2019 tax year, the budget introduces a new refundable Ontario Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) personal income tax credit, beginning with the 2019 tax year.

The tax credit will be based on the taxpayer’s family income and eligible child care expenses. It will provide the following tax credit per child up to:

  • $6,000 under the age of 7

  • $3,750 between age 7 to 16

  • $8,250 with a severe disability

The new credit will be calculated as the amount of eligible child care expenses multiplied by the credit rate shown below. The credit is eliminated when family income is greater than $150,000.

For 2019 and 2020, the taxpayers may claim the new tax credit on their tax returns. In 2021, Ontario intends to allow families to apply for regular advance payments.

Estate administration tax

Effective Jan 1, 2020 the budget eliminates the Estate Administration Tax on the first $50,000 of an estate’s value and extends the filing deadline of the Estate Administration Tax Information Return with the Ministry of Finance to 180 days (from 90 days) after the receipt of an estate certificate, and extends the deadline for filing amended information returns to 60 days (from 30 days).

Review of property tax assessment system

The province will review the property tax assessment system.

Addressing tax loopholes and tax integrity

The province has created a specialized unit of tax experts to find and address tax loopholes and abuse.

Corporate

The budget did not announce changes to the provincial corporate rate.

Ontario interactive digital media tax credit

The budget reduces the minimum Ontario labour expenditure to qualify as a specialized digital game corporation to $500,000 (from $1 million.)

Review

The budget will review the Ontario Innovation Tax Credit, other research and development incentives and cultural media tax credit certification process.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about how the budget will affect you.

Shared Ownership Critical Illness

Shared Ownership Critical Illness offers business owners and incorporated business professionals a way to access the retained earnings in their corporation or provide benefits to a key employee.

Talk to us to see how we can help you.

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.