12 Days of Giving - Day 1

On the first day of giving, my law firm gave to me, a donation to the Cancer Society.

There are many foundations working hard to battle this nondiscriminatory disease, but the Canadian Cancer Society has been recommended by one of our legal assistants, Lisa Esposto, as being one particular organization that has had an impact in her life. Lisa and her family have used the society’s support and services in the past, and we are happy to contribute to them on her behalf.

12 Days of Giving starts December 12, 2018

The Carson Law and Breen Law family is proud to announce an initiative that has been in the works since the two law firms decided to begin sharing office space in April of 2018. December 12 will mark the beginning of our 12 Days of Giving.

Staff members have been asked to select a charity that each of them feels strongly about. From this list, we will donate to one charity each day running from December 12 to December 24. During this time, we will post which charities are selected daily and why they are important to us.

The Navigator - Joint ownership accounts

As part of the estate planning process, individuals will often consider establishing a joint account with one or more of their adult children or other family members. Sometimes, this is done as a tool for expediency so that a joint account holder can help to manage the account, or to make the assets immediately available to the surviving accountholder(s) upon the death of the first joint accountholder. In other cases, a joint account is a planning technique used as part of a strategy recommended by an individual’s legal and tax advisors to seek to minimize probate tax. Whatever the motivation behind the account, before you open a joint account, it is important to be aware of the different joint account types available.

Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) - Don’t wait for retirement

A Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is a flexible investment account that you can use to meet short and long-term goals. Assets held inside a TFSA can earn interest, dividends or capital gains, but this income is not taxed, even when amounts are withdrawn from the TFSA, unlike a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Therefore, a TFSA can be used for both retirement and pre-retirement goals.

Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) - Is it time to convert your savings?

Since your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) matures on December 31st of the year you turn 71, you will likely convert it to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF). A RRIF is funded by rolling your RRSP funds into the RRIF on a tax-deferred basis. You can then use the funds in your RRIF as an income source for retirement. You can see a RRIF as an extension of your RRSP. As with your RRSP, you can continue to manage the investments in your RRIF. Like an RRSP, the growth of investments held within a RRIF is tax-deferred.

We're Hiring.... Again!

Carson Law is actively searching for an Assistant Financial Clerk to assist with tasks associated with the financial responsibilities required to complete real estate transactions as well as daily operations.  This is the perfect job for anyone looking to enter a rapidly growing firm or a recent graduate hoping to enter the workforce and continue building their knowledge base.

REITE Place, REITE Time, REITE Club

Carson Law is happy to introduce everyone to our friends at The Real Estate Investing Training & Education (REITE) Club. After taking a short break for the summer, their next event is scheduled for Wednesday Sept 5th at the Holiday Inn Burlington where Ryan, himself, will be a guest speaker and will be open to answering all of your burning questions.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) - A pillar of retirement income planning

This blog submission is provided by our friends from the Sonoda Team at TD Wealth to help with your retirement and estate planning education.

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What is an RRSP? When and how much can you contribute to your RRSP?

One of the pillars of retirement income planning in Canada is the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Introduced by the federal government as an alternative retirement saving vehicle for Canadians who did not have the benefit of an employer-sponsored pension plan, RRSPs have become a mainstay of saving for retirement.

RRSPs enable effective savings for two main reasons:

  1. Contributions to a plan are not taxed until they are withdrawn, which reduces your present taxable-income.
  2. Investment income or capital gains arising from any investments held inside your RRSP grow on a tax-deferred basis until you withdraw them, or until the plan is de-registered.

You can contribute to your RRSP up to and during the year you turn 71 and you can make contributions at any time during the calendar year.

By the end of the year you turn 71, you are required to close your RRSP by either withdrawing the funds; transferring the funds to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF); or using the funds to buy an annuity. One of these choices must be made by December 31st of that year.

There is a limit on the amount that you can contribute annually to your RRSP. The annual limit is known as the RRSP deduction limit—or, more commonly, your RRSP contribution room.

    The amount you can contribute each year depends on:

    • Your earned income from the previous year
    • The maximum contribution limit set annually by the federal Income Tax Act (ITA)
    • Any unused contribution room from previous years (which can be carried forward indefinitely)
    • Any adjustments based on employer pension plan contributions or spousal RRSPs

      What income counts toward your RRSP contribution room?

      RRSP contribution room is based on certain types of earned income as defined in the federal ITA, including:

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      • Employment income
      • Net rental income
      • Net business income
      • CPP/QPP disability pension income
      • Spousal/child support received
      • Research grants

      Earned income does not include:

      • RRSP/RRIF income
      • Interest and Dividend Income
      • Capital gains
      • CPP/QPP income, other than disability benefits
      • Old Age Security
      • Workers’ Compensation

      How does your earned income and the ITA affect this year’s RRSP contribution room?

      You can contribute 18% of your previous year’s earned income up to an annual allowable maximum, which changes every year as set by the ITA. Quite simply, if you have worked and created contribution room, you can contribute.

      The quickest way to find out the amount you can contribute is to refer to the RRSP deduction limit on your Notice of Assessment (or Reassessment) from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which you receive after filing your tax return, either in the mail or in your CRA online account:

      http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/esrvc-srvce/tx/ndvdls/myccnt/menu-eng.html

      Your Notice of Assessment will show the contribution limit for the present tax year, as well as any contributions you made but haven’t deducted in previous years.

      The federal ITA also influences your contribution room through its rules to prohibit tax avoidance. For RRSPs, the Anti-avoidance Rules will enable the CRA to impose tax if investments made within them are not qualified. Qualified investments include money, guaranteed investment certificates, government and corporate bonds, mutual funds and securities listed on a designated stock exchange.


      How does your unused contribution room from previous years affect this year’s RRSP contribution room?

      Perhaps you made a contribution but didn’t have enough room to deduct it in a past year. You can carry forward the contribution room you build up and deduct any undeducted contributions then.

      You are allowed to make a cumulative over-contribution of $2,000 above your annual contribution room without incurring a penalty from the CRA. That $2,000 over-contribution may be made in one tax year, or over a number of tax years. Note, however, that you cannot deduct that extra $2,000.

      By contrast, if you contribute more than this year’s amount, including making up for your unused contribution room, you will be in an over-contribution position. The CRA may then impose a penalty of 1% per month on the excess amount, until you withdraw it. You will not be taxed on the withdrawal if you make it during the year the unused contribution was made, or the year following, provided that you reasonably expected you could fully deduct the excess.

      Alternately, you can leave the excess contribution in your RRSP if you know you will be generating sufficient new contribution room in the following year. However, in the meantime you will still pay the monthly penalty for an excess contribution.

       


      How do adjustments based on employer contributions affect this year’s RRSP contribution room?

      The amount you can contribute in a given year will be affected by any pension adjustments or past service pension adjustments you may have.

      The amount of pension benefits you earn in a year from an employer pension plan will comprise your pension adjustment, which reduces your RRSP deduction limit for the following tax year. The greater the amount put aside for you in your employer pension plan, the less you will be able to contribute to your RRSP. This reduction occurs because, if you benefit from an employer pension plan or deferred profit sharing plan, you are seen to be receiving benefits similar to an RRSP. Following from the original intent behind creating RRSPs, this limitation is designed to level the retirement savings playing field.

      Meanwhile, if you receive additional pension benefits because your employer has upgraded the company pension plan on a retroactive basis, or you have purchased pension credit for past service, that will result in a past service pension adjustment (PSPA). It will also reduce your RRSP contribution room.

      The impact of an employer pension plan enhancement may sometimes be sufficient to reduce that year’s contribution limit, and any unused carry-forward room. You will have “negative contribution room”, which will not be decreased until you generate earned income and new contribution room.

      If you leave your employment before retirement, you may be entitled to a pension adjustment reversal (PAR), which will restore some of the RRSP contribution room that was lost due to pension adjustments. In that case, the amount of the PAR would be calculated by your pension administrator. It will differ depending on whether your employer plan was a defined benefit (DB) or defined contribution (DC) plan. DC plans involve contributions from the employee, and are viewed by the CRA to be similar to an RRSP. DB plans, on the other hand, generally involve contributions from the employer as well. Therefore, they are viewed as providing an added benefit on top of an RRSP. If you had a DB plan, you will only get a PAR if you give up the right to receive payments from the plan, or if the commuted value of benefits earned under the plan to a locked-in RRSP (generally known as a Locked-in Retirement Account) are less the amounts considered to be a pension adjustment or PSPA.

      You may be able to buy back benefits from your employer pension for a time period when you were not participating in your employer pension plan, perhaps due to a leave of absence such as maternity leave.

      Funding a buyback can be done as:

      • A lump sum payment
      • Installments
      • Direct transfer from a registered plan such as your RRSP

      If you, as an individual (rather as part of a group), decide to undertake a buyback, please note that the CRA must certify the PSPA calculated by the employer or pension administrator. It is the employer or pension administrator’s responsibility to submit a buyback for certification.

      A PSPA cannot be certified if it creates more than $8,000 of negative RRSP contribution room. If so, you will have to weigh the value of the future income generated by adding to your employer pension plan versus the income that could be generated by the funds you transfer from your RRSP.

      Let's look at an example:

        In this scenario, Sam decides to buyback $30,000 in past service. It will result in a PSPA of $30,000. If she is funding the buyback by transferring $15,000 from her RRSP, this creates $15,000 negative contribution room (more than the allowable maximum of $8,000), so she will be required to make further RRSP withdrawal of $7,000 to fund the buyback.

      PSPA of $30,000 - RRSP transfer of $15,000 = PSPA reduced to $15,000

      Allowable negative RRSP room of $8,000 = Requires an RRSP withdrawal of $7,000

      A pension buyback and its impact on your RRSP involve some tricky calculations, possibly a transfer from your RRSP to fund the buyback, and a withdrawal so you won’t end up penalized by the CRA. Review your buyback plan with your TD advisor to ensure you will benefit from doing it in the first place. If you will benefit, your advisor can assist with facilitating the buyback, and if necessary a withdrawal from your RRSP.


      How do spousal RRSPs affect each spouse’s contribution room?

      A spousal RRSP can be set up by one spouse or common-law partner for the other. Generally, it is established by the higher income-earner for the lower income-earner. Some couples have both individual and spousal RRSPs. Some individuals eventually combine both types of their RRSPs into one spousal RRSP to make managing their investments easier or to cut down on administration costs.

      Let's look at an example:

        If Rahim sets up a spousal RRSP for Kala, when he contributes to the spousal RRSP, his own contribution room will be decreased. He may deduct a contribution based on his contribution room, even though Kala is the annuitant and has full control of the plan. When income is withdrawn from the plan, it will taxable to Kala. The exception would be if she makes a withdrawal within three years from when Rahim makes a contribution. The attribution rules in the federal ITA will be applicable and Rahim will be taxed on the withdrawal.

      The attribution will apply on withdrawals up to the total amount of contributions made to all spousal RRSPs in the same year as the withdrawal, and the two previous years. The attribution rule will not apply if the partners are not living together due to relationship breakdown or the annuitant’s partner has died.

      While the contributions made to a spousal RRSP are based on the contributor’s contribution room, ultimately, a spousal RRSP will enable the couple to split income when withdrawals are eventually made.

      Possible Spousal RRSP Issues: Dominic and Fabriana

      • When Dominic turns 71, his spouse Fabriana is 63. He can still contribute to her spousal RRSP, while collapsing his individual RRSP, as long as he has contribution room.
      • If Dominic and Fabriana separate, under certain conditions, they could ask the CRA to remove the spousal designation of any spousal RRSPs, if they provide written proof that their marriage has broken down (e.g., a legal separation agreement or divorce order).
      • If they get divorced, a tax-free transfer of RRSP funds can be made from one spouse to the other as part of the legal proceedings to settle the division of property or fund spousal support.

      Is a spousal RRSP right for you and your partner? Talk it over with your partner and TD advisor to ensure you know the benefits and rules.


        What taxes are imposed on RRSP withdrawals?

        If, at any time, you withdraw funds from your RRSP, a federal withholding tax will be imposed (except in special cases such as the RSP Home Buyers’ Plan or Lifelong Learning Plan). If you live in Quebec a combined federal/provincial withholding tax will be imposed.


        When can you claim RRSP contributions?

        When making tax claims on RRSP contributions, you can claim contributions made in the first 60 days of the later calendar year for either the preceding tax year or the present tax year. For example, Audley didn’t make an RRSP contribution before the end of 2015, but he needed the tax deduction for the 2015 tax year. Therefore, he decided to make a large contribution to his RRSP in early January, and use it to claim a deduction on his 2015 tax return. Alternately, he could have claimed a deduction for the contribution on his 2016 tax return, or any future tax year.


        How is your RRSP taxed when you die?

        It’s likely that your RRSP will present the largest tax liability for your estate. It will be included as income on your terminal tax return at fair market value. Tax will be payable unless you undertake one of a few strategies prior to death.

        The most common strategy is to name a qualified beneficiary for your RRSP. That includes your spouse or common-law partner, a dependent minor child or grandchild. The usual practice is to choose your partner. Please note that Quebec residents must name beneficiaries in their will—they cannot do so in registered plan documents.

        The RRSP funds are transferred to that person as a refund of premium. The full amount could be taxed as your partner’s income. Usually, however, your partner would transfer the funds into an RRSP or RRIF, continuing the deferral of tax until the funds are withdrawn, or passed on again when he or she dies.

        If the beneficiary is a dependent child or grandchild and is named your beneficiary, the funds could be used to purchase an annuity. The only caveat imposed by the CRA is that annuity must end by the time the child or grandchild turns 18 years of age. This results in spreading the tax over several years, when the annual income from the annuity is received, allowing the child or grandchild to take advantage of personal tax credits to lower his or her tax bill. If the child or grandchild (youth or adult) has a physical or mental disability, your RRSP funds can be transferred to the child’s RRSP, RDSP, RRIF, or Pooled Registered Pension Plan, or can be used for the purchase of an annuity.

        If you name a registered charity as your beneficiary, your estate will be entitled to a charitable tax donation credit. It is likely to offset any tax owing upon deregistration of your RRSP at the time of death.

        If you name neither a charity, nor a qualified beneficiary (such as a partner, child or grandchild), your estate will be responsible for paying the tax owed upon the collapse of the plan. If there are insufficient funds in your estate, the beneficiary may have to pay a share of the taxes owing in situations when the estate and beneficiary share responsibility for the tax liability.

        Talk to your TD advisor about a possible beneficiary for your RRSP. Make sure you know the tax impact of your choice.


        This post has outlined some of the ways that RRSPs can help you prepare for retirement, and some of the challenges that they can cause. Be sure to contact your advisor with your questions.

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        The information contained herein has been provided by TD Wealth and is for information purposes only. The information has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable. The information does not provide financial, legal, tax or investment advice. Particular investment, tax, or trading strategies should be evaluated relative to each individual’s objectives and risk tolerance. TD Wealth represents the products and services offered by TD Waterhouse Canada Inc. (Member – Canadian Investor Protection Fund), TD Waterhouse Private Investment Counsel Inc., TD Wealth Private Banking (offered by The Toronto-Dominion Bank) and TD Wealth Private Trust (offered by The Canada Trust Company).
        ®The TD logo and other trade-marks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

        Carson Law Press Release - Staff Announcement and Job Opening

        Carson Law Office Professional Corporation is proud and excited to announce that Shannon Hogan, our receptionist and one of our brand ambassadors, has accepted an offer to attend law school at the University of Ottawa, with classes starting September 2018.

        While the entire Carson Law family is sad to be losing a very competent and positive staff member, we are very happy that Shannon has accepted this opportunity and will be pursuing one of her life and career goals.

        We wish her the best of luck and would love to see her rejoin the firm again in the future, especially as a new lawyer.

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        A search for her replacement will commence immediately with an anticipated start date of Tuesday, September 4, 2018.  A job description can be found below.  Any and all interested candidates should provide a resume and cover letter to our Manager of Operations and Business Development, Chad Blundy, at chad@carsonlaw.ca


        Job Description:

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        This position currently has a working title of Receptionist and Brand Ambassador.  As the title suggests, the incumbent will be called upon to complete tasks associated with that of a traditional receptionist/administrative assistant as well as duties pertaining to marketing and business development.  Carson Law is currently working to develop a reputation in the legal industry as providing exceptional customer service and communication with clients.  Therefore, above all else, there is an expectation that the person acting in this role will maintain a pleasant and positive demeanor at all times.  The incumbent will also be the first employee that the firms’ clients will see upon entering the office and thus will be responsible for providing a first impression on behalf the entire business.  Some specific work tasks will be as follows:

        • Answer phones and direct calls to the appropriate staff member
        • Greet clients and make them feel comfortable and welcome – offer to take visitors coats and offer beverages (if appropriate)
        • Field inquiries about the firms’ notary public services and advise customers of notarization availability
        • Collect payment and issue receipts for notary public services and other legal retainers
        • Be intimately familiar with and able to maintain the firms’ lawyers’ appointment schedules
        • Ensure that client files are organized and ready for their appointments
        • Act as a communication liaison between clients and staff by way of fielding calls for the lawyer(s) and directing to the proper clerk as well as dealing with walk-in customers appropriately
        • Manage files between clerks and lawyers so schedules are managed and inquiries get attended to
        • Understand all of the firms’ services to be able to confidently answer general questions and market to potential new clients
        • Prepare outgoing mail, arrange for courier pick-ups, and collect/sign for deliveries
        • Follow new matter and file opening procedures such as collecting client IDs and intake forms
        • Other duties as assigned

        Projected Salary: $29, 200 per year
        Projected Start Date: September 4, 2018
        Work hours per week: 40 hrs
        Annual Holidays: 3 weeks per year
        Benefits: Dental/Medical coverage offered following the completion of 3-month probation period

        Any and all interested candidates should provide a resume and cover letter to our Manager of Operations and Business Development, Chad Blundy, at chad@carsonlaw.ca

        First Time Home Buyers: 5 Steps to a Successful Home Purchase

        Purchasing a property is the biggest, most important purchase in most individuals' lives, and it can be stressful, especially for first time home buyers. Having the help of an experienced mortgage broker, realtor, and legal team can put your mind at ease.

        To help you get started, we've outlined a tried and true method for a successful first purchase:

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        1. Establish a budget.

        This part sounds simple, but with ever-evolving mortgage rules, it is crucial that you find a reputable mortgage broker who can consider all available options for your particular circumstances.

        In addition to the cost of the property, it is important to consider additional closing costs, which could include the land transfer tax (and whether you are eligible for a rebate), government registration fees, title insurance, legal fees, and other professional fees that may apply.


        2. Retain a reputable realtor who has experience working in your target market.

        Personal transactions often require extensions, or include terms that cannot be met, which may lead to a breach of contract. An experienced realtor will not only help you negotiate a fair purchase price, but will also have a keen eye for defects, location, layout, upgrades, renovation costs, etc.


        3. Retain a (GooD) real estate lawyer.

        Once you've chosen a lawyer, your realtor can send them the signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) shortly after it is executed.

        Carson Law would be pleased to review an agreement at any point, even before a formal offer has been made, and especially if there are unusual circumstances that require a second pair of eyes.

        One thing that Carson Law always encourages potential home buyers to do, especially first timers, is to not be afraid to seek legal advice early in the buying process. We are willing to perform services, such as title searches, that would help with the vetting of a property before an offer is made. Afterall, spending around $100 to help make a decision about an asset worth hundreds of thousands just makes sense.

        4. Provide your lawyer with a firm signed deal.

        Once our office has a firm signed deal, along with the APS, we will open a file. At that time, we will require a few pieces of information from you and your contacts, including:

        • Your personal information
        • Your mortgage information
        • Your home insurance information
        • Your history of property ownership
          • In many cases, first time home buyers qualify for a substantial credit towards the land transfer tax.
        • A title search
          • Searching the history of the property ensures that the buyer does not inherit any title defects.

        With this information, our team can lead you through the next steps, which include:

        • Finalizing all costs, like the amounts of the land transfer tax, government registrations fees, title insurance fees, legal fees, and HST
        • Scheduling a meeting to review all legal documentation; and to sign final mortgage documentation, transfer and deed documentation, and ancillary documentation
        • Notifying you of the successful closing of your purchase on the closing day
        Closing day is an exciting time, and you will be hoping to pick up the keys to your new home as soon as you can. It is important to keep in mind that most closings are finalized during the late afternoon. Our team will ensure that every step of your purchase is completed correctly, which requires thorough work down to the last detail. Plenty of time is required for us to consult with the lawyer representing the seller to transfer funds, verify funds, courier original signed documents and keys, and to release and register the deed which will list you as the new owner of the property. Once these steps are complete, our staff will contact you to pick up your keys.

        5. After closing, ensure everything is as it should be.

        We suggest you take the following steps to ensure everything is in order at your new property:

        • Look for any new damage in the property. Photograph the property before moving any of your belongings in.
        • Look for garbage, debris, or other unwanted items left behind.
        • Contact hydro and utilities companies to initiate your accounts.
        • Contact your tax company to ensure that they have everything they need to bill you. Doing so will ensure that your taxes stay up-to-date, and that you remain in good standing. If any outstanding tax or water bills show up, contact your lawyer immediately.

        Bonus Tip

        One more thing that we can't stress enough is the importance of trying to take emotion out of the home buying process. Many potential buyers, especially those purchasing for the first time, get hung up on properties that they think are "the one" and either end up making an offer that they can't afford, ignore serious defects, or agree to waive having a home inspection done. Each of these oversights can have serious repercussions. Purchasing a home needs to be seen for what it is... the acquisition of a significant asset. If the situation is not a good one, you must be prepared to walk away.

        We hope that this guide has helped to prepare you to search for your first home. If you have any questions, our team at Carson Law Office would be pleased to assist you.

        While on the subject of first time home buyers, have a look at this great video we did with our good friend Limor Markman where we talk all about this topic in greater detail.

        Carson Law and BOSL Donates to Burlington Food Bank

        Carson Law continues to be a big supporter of local area causes and on Saturday July 28, 2018, our founder Ryan Carson was given the opportunity to combine his passion for baseball with fundraising for a worthwhile and important community charity.

        The Burlington Oldtimers Slow-Pitch League (BOSL) held it's annual Golf Day in support of the Burlington Food Bank.  Ryan has been an active participant, team captain, and vocal proponent of BOSL for a number of seasons, and this year has been no different.

        Through sponsorships and mini-contests associated with the golf-day along with a mid-season baseball tournament, BOSL was able to raise $3650 for the Burlington Food Bank.  Ryan then went ahead and donated $1000 on his own to bring the grand total up to $4650 for the day.

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        All in all, the weather was amazing and everyone had a great time while doing something good for the community.  Ryan was also the main focus for one of the day's contests called "beat the lawyer".

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        On one of the par-3 holes, golfers had to try to get their tee-shot closer to the pin than a cut out of Ryan that was placed on the green.  Successful contestants were awarded with prizes provided by Carson Law.  We're not sure how many people actually aimed at Ryan's photo instead of the hole, but it looks like it returned in good enough shape to be signed and hung in a hall of fame (somewhere).

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        Great job to everyone involved in supporting the event and raising funds for such an important local charity!

        Retirement is coming - Will you have enough?

        This blog submission is being provided by our friends from the Sonoda Team at TD Wealth to help WITH your retirement and estate planning education.

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        For years you’ve been saving for retirement. How much do you think you will actually NEED to spend? Will you have enough? Do you have a withdrawal strategy, with options, should you face unforeseen challenges or decide to reset your goals?

        There are plenty of recommendations to make your retirement income last longer. One popular withdrawal rule of thumb is to withdraw 4% per year. However, does that figure have any connection to you and your retirement? Estimating how much you will need during retirement will involve a blend of personal reflection and number-crunching.

        If you’re between ten to five years away from retirement, now more than ever is the time to sit down with your TD advisor and do some solid planning. This is when you need to work closely to estimate your spending and withdrawal patterns over the span of your retirement.

        You’ll need to shift from asset accumulation to asset utilization. You’ll need to construct a flexible, tax-efficient cash flow to pay your fixed expenses, and have a solid sense of your ability to afford discretionary spending.

        While putting together your plan, you should consider planning for unexpected events, for example, a diagnosis of a long term illness. This, plus economic and market factors could have an impact on your ability to withdraw from your retirement income sources.

        There are 4 key steps to consider when developing a retirement and estate planning strategy:

        • Ask questions to develop specific goals
        • Identify retirement income sources
        • Plan for different spending stages
        • Establish a withdrawl strategy

          Key questions

          Establishing whether you will have enough, and what you may need to do to ensure security in retirement starts with asking some key questions about your retirement goals. Here are some questions to work through with your TD advisor:

          • When do I want to retire?
          • What are my retirement income sources (government benefits, pensions, registered and non-registered investments)?
          • Will I have debts when I retire?
          • Will I have sufficient health insurance coverage?
          • Will I sell my home because I may not be able to maintain it, or will I need the sale proceeds to fund my retirement?
          • Will I be leaving a legacy for my children/grandchildren?
          • Will I be leaving a gift for charity?

          The next step is review your retirement cash flow. Will your retirement income meet your retirement goals? Dive into your financial files for the following information and speak with your TD advisor:
          First, establish what your fixed expenses are likely to cost. This includes housing costs (such as property tax, maintenance, utilities and insurance premiums), food, clothing and transportation.
          Second, what type of discretionary spending will you engage in? Will you be travelling more during retirement? Will you throw your energy into a hobby that may involve expenses? What about entertainment?

          Retirement Income: Sources and Assets

          Like most Canadians, you may have more than one cash flow source for your retirement. You will have discretion about when and how much you wish to draw from your retirement assets and savings. Here are some of the common retirement income sources and assets:

          Income

          • Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan (CPP/QPP)
          • Old Age Security (OAS)
          • Defined Benefit or Defined Contribution company pension plans
          • Life Annuity

          Assets

          • Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP)
          • Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF)
          • Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA)
          • Non-registered investments & savings accounts
          • Home equity

          You should consider speaking with your TD advisor to review your optimal asset allocation based on your portfolio, financial/personal goals, estimated life expectancy and attitude toward risk.


          Spending stages during retirement

          Let’s assume there are three broad — sometimes overlapping — spending stages of retirement:

          • Active retirement years
          • Slowing down
          • Less active years

          The starting point for your planning will be to sit down to revisit your goals as well as any potential life events that could affect your spending.

          During your active years, you may be spending more than in any other stage of retirement. For example, will you be travelling extensively?

          Based on your family health history, what are the chances you will face some type of health challenge that will require you to slow down, and potentially incur expenses related to adjustments related to slowing down.

          In the less active stage, you may have decreased discretionary costs but greater medical expenses.


          Establishing a withdrawal strategy

          You’ll need to devise your withdrawal strategy based on your income and assets to meet your retirement goals across these three stages. There are many opinions and strategies as to what the best withdrawal strategy is during retirement. Will these strategies meet your retirement goals?

          Let’s look at some common withdrawal strategies, as well as an illustration that examines options when certain needs arise.

          1. Convert your RRSP to a RRIF before age 71:
            Let’s assume you have amassed a large RRSP and intend to convert it all to a RRIF at 71. However, if you expect lower amounts of retirement income prior to 71, you might consider converting your RRSP earlier to spread out the tax impact of the RRIF withdrawals. Remember that your RRSP contributions were tax-deductible and accumulated on a tax-deferred basis, and upon conversion to a RRIF, you are required to make annual minimum withdrawals which are included in your annual taxable income.
          2. Base RRIF minimums on your spouse’s age:
            If you have a younger spouse or common-law partner, you can decrease your required minimum RRIF withdrawals by basing them on your spouse’s or common-law partner’s age. The required annual minimum RRIF withdrawal is based on a prescribed percentage applied to your age at the beginning of the year multiplied by the value of your RRIF assets at the beginning of the year. This percentage increases as you age, thereby forcing larger amounts of RRIF withdrawals in later stages of retirement. However, if your spouse or common-law partner is younger than you, you can base your RRIF minimum on their age and prescribed percentage and, therefore, reduce the annual withdrawals required. Please note you must elect to set your minimum based on your spouse’s/common law partner’s age before you begin making RRIF withdrawals.
          3. Lowering taxes payable on your estate:
            For example, if you wish to leave a legacy to your children, you could look at the benefit of purchasing a life insurance policy, rather than increasing savings in a registered plan.
          4. Reinvestment strategy for investment income:
            If you have significant non-registered assets that include dividend-producing equities, and you have set up your account to automatically reinvest the dividends, depending on your retirement income requirements, you might consider receiving the dividends in cash instead of reinvestment. Generally, tax is payable on the dividend income in the year it is received regardless of whether it’s reinvested or paid out in cash. Perhaps you will need cash flow. Taking the dividends in cash could mean you’re diminishing withdrawals from your TFSAs or RRSPs, or selling stocks. Consider speaking with your TD advisor about the most tax-efficient way to manage your non-registered accounts, while striving to meet your retirement cash flow needs.

            Conclusion

            Planning for retirement is crucial and you should work with your TD advisor to look ahead. Assess your retirement needs over time. Speak with your TD advisor about your asset allocation to review whether it’s appropriate to meet your needs. Active planning can give you confidence you have planned effectively for your retirement.

            Consider:

            • Taking a hard look at your retirement goals & needs, aiming to ensure you’ll have enough funds to support your retirement lifestyle goals.
            • Working with your TD advisor to build a solid retirement withdrawal plan that takes into accountyour spending estimates and any setbacks such as potential health concerns.
            • Reviewing your asset allocation based on your goals/needs during each stage of retirement.

            The information contained herein has been provided by TD Wealth and is for information purposes only. The information has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable. The information does not provide financial, legal, tax or investment advice. Particular investment, tax, or trading strategies should be evaluated relative to each individual’s objectives and risk tolerance. TD Wealth represents the products and services offered by TD Waterhouse Canada Inc. (Member – Canadian Investor Protection Fund), TD Waterhouse Private Investment Counsel Inc., TD Wealth Private Banking (offered by The Toronto-Dominion Bank) and TD Wealth Private Trust (offered by The Canada Trust Company).
            ®The TD logo and other trade-marks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

            Power of Sale: What is it and how can you avoid it?

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            In the spring/summer of 2017, a massive amount of media coverage was devoted to the Ontario real estate market and the drastic changes in property values, supply, and demand.  While real estate purchases and sales have cooled significantly from a year ago, there is still plenty of housing talk heading into the warm months of 2018 stemming from new mortgage rules and rates.  Even though buying and selling may be down, fluctuating rates have caused people to look at their mortgage and lending options, pushing the volume of mortgage, refinance, borrowing, and lending transactions higher through the first part of the year.  But while there appears to be an increasing number of available lending sources entering into the market, we have also seen an increase in the number of borrowing agreements that have been forced into Power of Sale situations.  So, what is Power of Sale, and how can one avoid it?

            The term “Power of Sale” is a clause that often gets written in to a mortgage agreement that grants the lender the right to sell the property in order to collect on the debt in the event that the borrower breaches or defaults on the agreement.  Examples of mortgage breach/default by the borrower could include a failure to pay property insurance, property taxes, or pay back the mortgage on time.

            Should a breach/default occur, there are a series of steps that the lender must take during the Power of Sale process, but opportunities for the borrower to bring the mortgage back into good standing also exist.

            1.       The lender gives written notification outlining the terms of the defaulted mortgage

            The borrower then has 15 days to rectify the terms

            2.       If the borrower does not act, the lender can deliver a Notice of Sale Under Mortgage

            The borrower has 35 days to bring the mortgage into good standing

            3.       If the borrower does not act, the lender is able to issue a Statement of Claim for the collection of the debt owed and for possession of the property

            The borrower can then file a Statement of Defense

            4.       If the Statement of Defense is not filed, the lender can move forward toward evicting the borrower/occupants and sell the property


            How can this be avoided?

            It sounds silly, but the number one tactic for avoiding Power of Sale is to fully understand your mortgage agreement.  Many borrowers simply focus on the final net amount that they will receive without paying close enough attention to their mortgage terms and stipulations.

            Next, never be afraid to ask for a second opinion.  Whether through a financial institution (such as a bank) or using a mortgage broker, professionals in both situations should have the client’s best interests in mind.  However, some specialists may have access to different lending sources than others.

            Finally, involve a lawyer as early in the process as possible.  This will help you fully understand the mortgage agreement terms as well as ensure that all administrative tasks are correctly executed, including reviewing legal documents, confirming property taxes are up to date, guarding against claims on the property, confirming valid title, etc.


            Having problems with a Power of Sale?

            9 Benefits to Filing a Patent Application

            Are you in possession of the next great idea or invention?

            Do you have a piece of equipment or technology that will set you apart from other competitors in your industry?

            Is it time for you to take steps to protect yourself and your intellectual property?

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            If you answered YES to the first or second question above, then congratulations.  You have an exciting opportunity to distinguish yourself from others in your chosen field.  If you are looking for help to answer the third question, then you have come to the right place.  But one thing that you should be aware of is the fact that there will likely be no cookie-cutter response as to whether you should or should not pursue a patent.  In our experience, every person who has come to us looking for the same information has had to realize that the answer is dependent on their own specific set of circumstances as well as their particular business and personal objectives.  Ultimately, only you can decide whether it will be in your best interests to file a patent application. In order to help you with this important decision, we are offering the following 9 benefits of patents for you to consider.

            The main advantages of filling a patent are as follows:

            1. Exclusive Legal Rights

            First and foremost, obtaining a patent will provide the owner with exclusive legal rights to make, use, or sell the patented invention.  Without legal exclusivity, as soon as an invention is launched into a marketplace (often at great cost in terms of product development, tooling, packaging, inventory, promotion, and advertising) and proves to be successful, then competitors will be enticed and entitled to copy it in direct competition. Further, without exclusive rights being protected, those same competitors will be able to get a free ride on the innovator’s efforts without having to incur many of the costs of product development and creation of market demand.  This means that competitors would be able to undercut the innovator’s prices, thus reducing the inventor's maximum profit return and increasing the chances of their failure.

            There is more than one type of business model where legal exclusivity of a product (or lack thereof) will affect the success or failure of an innovation's introduction into a marketplace.  Consider the following situations:

            a. The patent owner itself manufactures and sells the inventive products into the marketplace. Without a legal right to prevent competitors from copying the invention (i.e. to stop infringers), the patent owner’s investment, future profits and growth potential will all be at risk.

            b. The patent owner sells or gives an exclusive license of the invention to another person (a licensee), who in turn manufactures and sells the inventive products into the marketplace and makes payments (e.g. royalty and/or lump sum payments) to the patent owner. Without a legal right to stop infringers, the licensee’s investment, future profits and growth potential (and the patent owner’s future royalty stream) will all be at risk.

            c. The patent owner grants non-exclusive licenses to the invention to several licensees, who in turn make and sell the products and make payments (e.g. royalty and/or lump sum payments) to the patent owner.  Unless the patent owner stops infringers, no licensees will wish to make royalty payments to the patent owner because they would then be competing with the infringers who, not having to pay the patent owner, could undercut the prices of legitimate licensees to their detriment.

            2. SCARE OFF, DELAY, OR AFFECT POTENTIAL COMPETITORS

            Apart from actually having to enforce legal rights, the mere fact that the innovator has a patent may scare off, or at least delay or otherwise affect, potential competitors.  A potential competitor, reviewing the patent, may realize that their proposed product would be, or at least arguably may be, covered by the patent.  The potential competitor may therefore realize that launching its product(s) into the marketplace may result in patent litigation. Exposure to this risk may lead the potential competitor to decide not to launch its product or to strike an agreement with the patent owner.
            Short of scaring off a competitor entirely, there can nevertheless be other beneficial effects from having a patent.

            EXAMPLES

            a. It will take time for the competitor to assess the patent and make its decision as to whether or how to proceed. Delay of the competitor’s product launch is the usual result. To the patent owner, that delay represents additional exclusivity within the marketplace, during which time the patent owner will be continuing its efforts to buttress its marketplace position.

            b. The competitor may feel compelled to try to re-design its product so as not, in its view, to infringe the patent. Such a re-designed product (whether it infringes the patent or not) may have important differences from, or may not have all of the capabilities or features of, the patented product. These facts may provide to the patent owner certain marketing advantages or opportunities, e.g. the ability to point to the better features or originality of its own product. Also, all amounts spent by the competitor on re-design and tooling and in having to launch a somewhat different product will increase its cost base, thus not allowing the competitor to undercut the patent owner’s prices by as much as it might otherwise have been able.

            The above advantages can apply even in a case where a patent application has merely been filed, i.e. where the patent is merely “pending”. In the case of a patent application which is pending but made public, the scope of the patent has not been finally confirmed by the patent office in question. There is thus a higher level of uncertainty to a would-be competitor as to the potential scope of the eventual patent. The points mentioned above may be heightened further with this higher level of uncertainty.

            In the initial stages of a patent application, the owner usually prefers to keep the application confidential in the patent office for the available confidentiality period. During this period, however, the owner is not prevented from marking its products with a “patent pending” notice. Seeing such a notice, and not being able to review the patent application during the confidentiality period, there is an even higher level of uncertainty to a potential competitor in assessing whether to copy a product or not.

            3. Patents are valuable assets

            Patents and patent applications can be considered valuable assets due to the legal rights that come with them.  As such, they can be used or disposed of directly like other assets, such as by being sold or used as security or collateral in a financing transaction.

            Patent assets can also be used or disposed of indirectly.  For example, if owned by a business organization such as a corporation or a partnership, the patent assets can add value to the business and of the underlying shares of the corporation or the partnership interest.  In turn, those underlying shares can be valued at a higher level than they otherwise would have without the patent assets. Those higher value shares can in turn then be old or used as security or collateral in a financing transaction.

            In many businesses, particularly those without significant physical or other common assets, a significant patent portfolio may be among the most valuable and impressive assets of the business. Particularly in the case of a large patent portfolio, sometimes the value attributed to it will be determined according to the number of patents in the portfolio rather than on a detailed analysis of the merits of each individual patent.

            In short, patent rights can be a very positive factor in the sale, financing or liquidation of a business, as well as the successful navigation of which can be critical at various stages in the development of a business.

            4. Marketing Tool

            Many businesses find it is extremely useful to their marketing efforts to publicly promote the fact that its products are patented — either in relation to a particular product or in relation to the activities of the business in general. These businesses consider that a product marked “patented” or “patent pending” or “The Patented BRAND X Widget” will make more of an impression on potential customers and stand out from the competition. This type of promotion also helps develop the business’s general reputation as innovative and forward thinking.

            5. Improved ability to find investors, financing, or licensees

            Many inventors of modest means will find it difficult to bring a new product to market without financial or other help. Thus, many will seek to have family, friends, or others (such as venture capitalists) invest in the project - either by way of loan or by way of ownership shares (e.g. especially shares in a corporation). A patent is a specific asset for the inventor to offer to potential investors to buy into, in exchange for financial contributions. Thus, without the patent rights, it may be very difficult or even impossible to move forward with the project.

            Alternatively, the inventor may wish to entrust a licensee with bringing the product to market. As the person who would take on most of the financial investment and risk in doing so, a licensee can be considered as another type of investor. Again, as noted above, the exclusivity of the patent rights represents something more tangible for a licensee to “buy into” than a basic raw idea without substance.

            In addition, in any of these types of situations, having a patent or pending application will at least underscore to any potential investor that the inventor has confidence in his/her own self and project, thus enhancing the chances of a successful outcome for the inventor. In other words, the patent rights become part of the inventor’s “sales pitch”.

            6. Third Party Inquiries

            By applying for and securing a patent, a significant amount of information about the product is submitted for review and then made publicly available.  Anyone interested in the invention, such as potential buyers or licensees, can contact the patent owner via the information in the patent or through the patent office.  There are certain investors and businesses who regularly search patent applications looking for opportunities to connect with innovators, so the patent process can sometimes be viewed as advertising for potential business partners.

            7. Defensive Comfort

            Some businesses find it useful to obtain patents on products that they do not even necessarily intend to market, at least at the present time.  One reason is to prove to the world that it is the true inventor of a particular technology to guard itself from someone else, especially a competitor, from eventually independently developing the same invention, get a patent and then deny the first company the ability to use the technology (which, in fact, they may have developed it first).

            EXAMPLE

            Say Company A invents a new toaster but decides that it is not yet ready to introduce to the public for the sake of further development. Then, six months later, Company B coincidently and independently develops the same toaster. If Co B obtains a patent on the toaster then, even though Co A may have invented the toaster first, Co A would not be entitled to make, use, or sell the toaster. If Co A had, in the very least, filed for a patent application, then Co B may never have obtained a patent and Co A could never have been precluded from offering the toaster in the future.

            Patents can also sometimes be used in cross-licensing situations.

            EXAMPLE

            Say Company X owns a patent on a basic mousetrap. Company Y invents an improved and very useful version of the mousetrap and wants to put it on the market but cannot because of Co X’s patent. Co Y should consider obtaining a patent on their improved mousetrap, not because they necessarily wish to maintain exclusivity for themselves, but simply because they may be able to use their own patent as bargaining leverage with Co X.

            Both companies may see value in coming up with an arrangement whereby each company licenses the other. A cross-license can exist where both companies produce and sell their products without the payment of fees or royalties to each other.

            8. Publication Credit

            In some cases, filing for and/or obtaining a patent will be viewed by a university or other institution in the same favourable light as a publication or published work.  Adding a patent or patent pending to an academic or professional’s curriculum vitae (resume) may increase that person’s ability to successfully secure a significant job opportunity or boost their status and security in his or her field.

            9. Personal Pride

            While the majority of these patent benefits have to do with increasing profitability or capitalizing on a business opportunity, there is also something to be said for gaining an emotional boost as well.  Sometimes the ability to simply point to the existence of a patent application or patent may be important to an inventor/applicant as a matter of a personal or professional pride. In fact, many people often obtain framed or wall-mounted plaques of their patents.

            BONUS TIP

            While the 9 points listed above may paint a convincing picture that securing a patent for an innovative product should be an automatic part of any business strategy, it is important to understand that there are other factors that also need to be considered. Yes, we have identified a number of potential advantages of a patent or patent application, but these should be weighed against all costs and risks, such as the following:

            • Potential for not making enough money from the project to recoup at least the financial costs of patent filing;
            • Business risk(s) and threat to maximum profitability associated with not filing a patent application;
            • Requirement to make certain technical information about the invention publicly available in order to file the patent application;
            • Time restraints - the patent application process can be a time-consuming and lengthy process, meaning there could be market or technology changes that could affect the invention's validity and profitability by the time a patent is granted;
            • In the case of a possible infringer, one must be prepared to defend their patent, including accepting potential legal costs; and,
            • Patents are territorial, so you will only be able to stop competition in the country in which you hold a patent. If you believe your invention has potential in other countries, and you intend to develop those markets, you will also need to budget for the cost of applying for a patent in your target countries and offset this cost against the patented item's projected income over the lifetime of the patent

            In making the decision as to whether to proceed with a patent application or not, you should take the time to develop a very clear picture of the numerous potential advantages available to you if you do proceed and, conversely, of the lost opportunities or risks if you do not.

            Carson Law welcomes Spencer Cuddy to the firm

            Congratulations to Spencer Cuddy on being called to the bar in Ontario. Everyone at Carson Law Office Professional Corporation is very proud of you. Our clients are very lucky to have you working for them.

            Spencer M. Cuddy,
            Lawyer

            Office Phone: (905) 336-8940
            spencer@carsonlaw.ca

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            Executor and Estate Planning Seminar

            Ryan Carson is honored to be asked to provide his legal expertise at the Estate and Executor seminar being provided by Jennifer Aubertin and RBC Dominion Securities in Burlington, ON. Attendance is open to the public and complimentary, but seating is limited so anyone interested should RSVP sooner than later.

            Thursday, October 5, 2017

            6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
            Reception and light dinner

            6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
            Panel discussion and Q&A

            RBC Dominion Securities
            4475 North Service Rd., 4th Floor
            Burlington, ON (Appleby exit)

            Please contact Tammy Lawson at 905-332-2583 or tammy.lawson@rbc.com to reserve your seats.

            How are you planning for the future?

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            Carson Law - Top 3 in Burlington!

            Carson Law is proud to announce that we have just been ranked by the independent review site, threebestrated.ca, as one of the Top 3 Real Estate and Estate Planning Lawyers in Burlington, ON.

            Many thanks to our past and existing clients for their loyalty, as well as to all those who have provided their feedback and reviews.

            We look forward to continuing to work hard to provide Burlington and the Golden Horseshoe with exceptional legal services.

             
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            Buying/selling a house in an unknown market… Being proactive and having a Plan B.

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            There are 2 situations that we have recently been experiencing with clients more frequently and with greater consequence as a result of recent housing and real estate market uncertainties:

            1) A client makes a purchase and is having difficulties selling their current house, has sold but at a drastically reduced price, or their sale is falling apart due to lack of funding on the other side; and,

            2) A client has signed an agreement to purchase, but the bank’s appraisal of the property is less than what they have agreed to pay for it.

            Use the following tips to help prevent and/or recover from these unfortunate scenarios.

            Be Proactive

            • Try to take emotion out of the equation. Seeing the purchase/sale of a house for the TRANSACTION that it is, will help you to make sound, safe decisions.
            • No unconditional offers. Under no circumstances should any offer be made UNCONDITIONALLY (ie. without inspection, appraisal, title search, or condition of selling/financing).  Having proper conditions in place helps to protect both sides of the deal, not just purchasers.
            • Get a home inspection. Especially if one hasn’t been pre-done by the seller.  After all, you wouldn’t buy a car, particularly a used one, without test driving it first to make sure it runs as expected.
            • Base your mortgage on an actual appraisal, not just pre-approval figures. If the lender's or mortgage insurer's assessment determines that you overpaid, or the property has faults, your pre-approval can become void or your final mortgage amount can be less than expected.
            • Involve a lawyer early.  Lawyers can provide insight into the history of the property’s ownership as well as review initial offers for areas of concern.

            Plan B Options

            • Ask for a closing date extension. First and foremost, ask for more time to secure funding or complete your sale.
            • Refinance from other asset pools, such as cottages or recreational properties.
            • Vendor Take Back Mortgage. Consists of the seller offering to lend funds to the buyer to help facilitate the purchase of the property.
            • Private 2nd Mortgage.  While arranging a second mortgage with a private lender will likely cost more than receiving lending from a financial institution, it will still cost less than what might happen if forced to walk away from a signed agreement.

            Legal ramifications should you walk away from a signed purchase agreement

            • Immediate loss of initial deposit
            • Potential for being sued for the difference between what you agreed to pay and what the seller is able to get with a new deal (if the new deal is less)
            • Possibility of being sued by realtor for lost commission(s)
            • Responsibility to cover additional legal and carrying costs

            If you have run into the above issues, or for more information about how we can help with your home, your business, or your future, feel free to call 905-336-8940 or e-mail ryan@carsonlaw.ca.