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The Genetic Non-Discrimination Act and its Impact on Life Insurance

One of the many advancements in medicine has been the use of genetic testing in determining the probability that an individual will develop a life- threatening illness or condition.   Knowing that you or your children are not at risk of a major illness can be of great comfort while knowledge to the contrary can be of great value in preventative treatment and planning.  There was a growing concern, however, that individuals would be very reluctant to undergo genetic testing if knowing the results could affect their ability to properly insure themselves or impact their opportunities for employment.  As a result, a private member’s bill, Bill S-201, was introduced in the senate resulting in the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act being recently enacted into law.

What does the Act do?

It is now illegal for employers, insurance companies, or any other entity or individual to require anyone to undergo genetic testing or to disclose the results of a genetic test before entering into a contract which provides goods or services.  Now, if you apply for life, disability or critical illness insurance living benefit coverage, you cannot be denied coverage due to the results of a genetic test.  Insurance companies and their agents are also prohibited from “collecting, using or disclosing” the results of a genetic test without an individual’s written consent. Penalties for not complying with the new law are severe. Read more

Insurance Audit for the Business Owner

Many business owners understand the important role that life insurance plays in effective corporate planning.  Whether it is the funding of a shareholders’ agreement, life insuring corporate debt, or protecting against loss from the death of a key employee, life insurance is of great value in underpinning the financial success of a corporation.

Just as life insurance needs for families change over time the same is also true for requirements of a business.  If it has been some time since you last reviewed your corporate needs then it is probably time for a corporate insurance audit. This is especially true if the company has grown in value since the time the insurance was first implemented.  The scope of the audit and the insurance related issues include the following: Read more

Private Corporations in the Cross Hairs

If you are the owner of a private corporation you should be concerned about the commentary that is coming from the Department of Finance.  In the Federal Budget of March 2017, Finance expressed their concern that private corporations were being used by high income Canadians to obtain tax advantages that were not available to other Canadian tax payers.  That concern has led to the release on July 18th 2017, of a consultation paper along with draft legislation.  Finance is currently asking for input from interested parties and stakeholders and has stated that the consultation period will end on October 2, 2017.  At this point, whatever happens after that date is anyone’s guess, but speculation is high that changes will be introduced to close what the Department perceives as abusive practices relating to private corporations.

Specifically, there are three specific tax planning strategies employed by private corporations that the department is most concerned with:

Sprinkling income using a private corporation

Income tax paid on income from a private corporation can be greatly reduced by causing that income to be received in the form of dividends by individuals who would pay tax at a much lower rate or not at all.  These dividends are usually paid to adult children or other family members who are shareholders of the private corporation or to a family trust.  By “sprinkling” the income in this manner the amount of income tax paid can be greatly reduced. Read more

Charitable Gifting with Shared Ownership Universal Life Insurance

Many individuals have realized their charitable aspirations by donating a life insurance policy to the charity of their choice.  In situations where that donation is a Universal Life policy, the use of a Shared Ownership strategy could prove to be a viable investment for the donor.

Shared Ownership refers to an arrangement involving cash value life insurance policies such as Universal Life.  Universal Life combines life insurance with an investment fund which grows tax deferred until the cash value is withdrawn.  If the cash value is paid out at death, the growth is tax free.

Under Shared Ownership, the life insurance and the cash value would have different owners and beneficiaries and would be structured as follows: Read more

Preparing your Heirs for Wealth

If you think your heirs are not quite old enough or prepared enough to discuss the wealth they will inherit on your death, you’re not alone. Unfortunately though, this way of thinking can leave your beneficiaries in a decision-making vacuum: an unnecessary predicament which can be avoided by facing your own mortality and making a plan.

If you have a will in place, great. A will, however, is only a fundamental first step, not a comprehensive plan, point out authors of the 2017 Wealth Transfer Report from RBC Wealth Management.

“One generation’s success at building wealth does not ensure the next generation’s ability to manage wealth responsibly, or provide effective stewardship for the future,” they write. “Knowing the value (alone) does little to prepare inheritors for managing the considerable responsibilities of wealth.” Overall, the report’s authors say the number of inheritors who’ve been prepared hovers at just one in three. Read more

ARTICLES OF INTEREST

9
Nov

Fall into Autumn Savings

By Carla Hindman, Director of Financial Education, Visa Canada

Fall is officially here. With the new season comes new reasons to spend money, including increased utility bills, winter wardrobes and upcoming holiday purchases. Here are some tips to help you fall into savings this season.

Winter proof your home: A little TLC during the fall season can go a long way towards saving on winter utility bills. Improve your home’s insulation factor by caulking or using weather-stripping on windows and doors, and consider cleaning out your gutters to help with drainage. Cleaning or changing your furnace filter and checking into any needed roof repairs are two frugal, essential habits to help prepare for the winter months. Looking for other cost-effective alternatives? Switch to energy efficient lightbulbs. They may cost more initially, but they’ll save you money in the long run. Read more »

17
Oct

How to prepare your finances for maternity leave

By Helen Burnett-Nichols

Expecting your first baby? By all means get the nursery ready — but make sure you put your financial house in order, too.

Preparing for a baby is a time full of celebration, showers and shopping, but the arrival of a little one brings not only added expense for your family but also a noticeable drop in income for many new families. Read more »