The Canadian Guide to Will and Estate Planning

Douglas Gray and John Budd have published the third edition of their book

The Canadian Guide to Will and Estate Planning

. They do a good job of explaining in simple language the bewildering array of ways to protect your estate from taxes when you die.

The range of topics covered includes building your estate, wills, trusts, probate, taxes, U.S. taxes, cottages, family businesses, charity, insurance, advisors, retirement care, and funerals. It’s almost enough to make me renounce all my worldly possessions – almost.

I won’t try to summarize this book and further – even at 400 pages, most topics are covered quickly. The main value of this book to me was to become aware of possible estate planning strategies. Actually acting on this information likely requires further investigation or professional help.

For the rest of this review, I’ll point out some parts of the book I found interesting, surprising, or I disagreed with.

CDIC Coverage

“You are protected up to a maximum of $100,000 for each separate deposit.” This may be technically true if you define “separate deposit” correctly, but this definition will not line up with what most people understand the words to mean. Similar deposits get lumped together. It’s best to read the details at the CDIC web site.

Financial Advice

“Unless you consider yourself an expert in the markets, and in forecasting the economy and interest rates, you should have a professional manage your investment portfolio.” Unfortunately, the professionals can’t do any of these things either. The real game is to invest in a way that allows for the possibility of a wide range of outcomes.

Disinheriting Family

Apparently it is quite difficult to disinherit a child or spouse. If you feel strongly about doing this, you’d better get some good advice, because the authors explain that various laws give spouses and children rights that can supersede your wishes.

Wills and Marriage

“A will is automatically revoked by law if the testator enters into a legal marriage after the will has been made.” There are some exceptions to this, but in general you need to look at your will whenever you get married.

Caution on Trusts

“Trusts are complex, and costly to set and maintain year-to-year.” Trusts can save on taxes and solve certain problems, but they are generally only worthwhile for large sums of money.

Final Income Tax Returns

The executor must file a final tax return for the deceased and must file another tax return for the estate to cover the time after death.

RRSP Tax Surprise

If you leave your RRSP to one child and the balance of your estate to another, the entire RRSP will go to the first child, and the balance of the estate will pay the income taxes on the RRSP withdrawal. This can skew the size of each share in a way you didn’t expect.

Electing Out of the Spousal Rollover

Ordinarily, you can leave property to a spouse without triggering capital gains taxes, and the spouse simply takes the property at your adjusted cost base. However, if you have a large capital loss from previous years, you may wish to elect out of the rollover to use up the capital loss and save the living spouse future capital gains taxes.

Principal Residence Exemption

See my previous post for a discussion of reducing taxes by taking advantage of the flexible principal residence designation.

Insurance Agents

“One might think that insurance agents’ … recommendations on the need for, and the volume of, life insurance that is required in a situation are ‘product and sales driven’” to create commissions. “In the writers’ experience, this is not the case.” I’m sure there are many honest insurance agents, but fewer than half of the ones I’ve dealt with had integrity.

Executor Duties

The authors provide a comprehensive list of executor duties in the appendices. This list is long and may make me a little less likely to agree to be executor for too many more family members. On the other hand, maybe it gets easier after you’ve been through it a couple of times.

Life Insurance

According to a chart in the appendices, to have $5000 available to spend each month, you would need investible assets of $2.2 million and require life insurance to close the gap between your current assets and $2.2 million.


Overall, I found this to be a useful book that manages to take dry subjects that are often described with impenetrable jargon and makes them comprehensible.

Continue reading →

Dog Health Problems – Guide to Understanding

Our dogs are not all that dissimilar from us when it comes to health. Dogs can experience obesity, cancer, arthritis, anxiety, etc. Knowing when to make a veterinarian appointment and when to allow your dog to work through an illness is the question pet owners frequently ask. It is not as if your dog can tell you what is happening so being prepared and understanding dog health problems are our best defense. When any dog is not feeling well they begin to show signs and one the easiest for pet owners to recognize is a change in behavior. If they seem disoriented or slightly off-balance, this could be a sign of an ear infection. Checking your dog’s ears regularly and keeping them clean during regular grooming can help prevent an ear infection. Often the signs that your dog is having health problems will show up in urine and defecation. An intense odor from urine may indicate a bladder infection while an elevated need to relieve themselves could be a sign of Cushing’s disease. Changes in color and viscosity in defecation may point to a digestive problem. This could be as simple as changing your dog’s diet or brand of dog food to quickly or perhaps something worse. One the more serious dog health problems is obesity. Dog obesity can lead to a host of issues like heart disease, diabetes, and joint problems. Keep your dog trim and fit by reading the labels on their dog food bags. Most inexpensive commercial dog food contains fillers and sugar. Moreover, while an active dog at a very young age may seem to be able to burn off the calories there is nothing offered in the food to build their immune system. Older inactive dogs will quickly gain weight and experience all the health problems that accompany dog obesity. Several different brands of dog food are designed specifically for your dog; changing ingredients as a dog ages. Diet is a wonderful preventive for dog health problems. A good quality dog food with wholesome ingredients will provide the protein a growing and active dog needs while giving their immune system a boost. By feeding your dog the appropriate dog food for their age and activity group, you can prevent costly Vet visits down the road. Allergies are another dog health problem that can affect some dogs. Dogs will show similar symptoms as humans when suffering from allergies. Watery eyes, sneezing, and runny nose are common. Check your household cleaners and see if they are pet friendly. If not, observe where dog spends his time noticing if he/she is coming in contact of the cleaner. Generally speaking, when your dog reaches the age of 10 to 12 years old they are considered a senior citizen. Depending on the size of the breed signs of old age, may appear earlier or later. Dog health problems at this time in their lives could be cataracts, hearing loss, cancer, and joint pain associated with arthritis. The signs to look for are licking of the joints, slow walking especially up stairs, and cannot seem to hear you when you call or bumps into furniture as they walk through the room. No matter the symptoms of dog health problems your four-legged family member is demonstrating never take a chance. If symptoms persist after you have checked all the common issues mentioned in this article consult with your Veterinarian or use the service on the Remarkable Dogs home page and “Ask a Vet.” As pet owners, we speak for them so keeping track of your dog’s behavior, diet, and daily needs are your best defense to dog health problems. Regular bi-annual checkups from your Veterinarian as well as observation while making some minor changes at home can prevent a host of dog health problems. Read more articles about dog health problems at Remarkable Visit The Daily Wag at Remarkable where we are dedicated to providing detailed resources for your dog. Article Source:

Continue reading →

Dog Behavior Training Can Save More Than Just Money

Almost all puppies and a good bit of older dogs have many behavior flaws. This can range from anything from chewing on furniture, shoes, glasses, excessive barking, begging, jumping, and running away, and that is just to name a few. The good news about all this is that all these problems can solved by some simple dog behavior training. Barking is a natural tendency for a dog, so for the owner to want to stop barking all together would be a bad choice. You want your dog to bark, but at the right times. Say a delivery service drops off a package at your house, many dog will hear this noise and it will trigger a barking response. Your dog behavior training methods should start now by walking to door where the package has been dropped off at tell your dog to “Sit”, and let him understand you are now taking over the situation, and his job is done. With excessive barking things can get a little trickier. Some dog bark excessively because they are insecure and seeking attention. If this is the case then you would want to look at your time with the dog and focus more on your dog behavior training. You may need to ask yourself is there anything you can do to give your dog more attention. Maybe a few more hours at playtime a day. If your dog is excessively barking you never want to shout at your dog until it stops. This method could bring you some short term quiet time, but it will only intensify your dog in the long run and continue this unwanted behavior. Chewing is another bad puppy behavior than cause dog owners lots of anguish and most times money. Puppies will chew on just about anything they can get their mouths around. Because of this, one good habit to get into is picking up after yourself and around the house. Your dog has no sense of value or importance so they will chew on important items such as furniture, tables, remote controls, and glasses. I even had a dog once that chew a giant hole in the carpet right in the middle of the room! Dogs will chew for many reasons and it is your job as the owner to look for these reasons and figure out how your dog behavior training can fix them. Dogs will chew for many reasons such as boredom, teething, fear, for attention, and even separation anxiety. A few ways to eliminate your dog from chewing around the house is to a crate. While you are away at work or out shopping or whatever, you can put your dog in the crate with a few toys and keep your home safe. Speaking of toys for the crate, you also can leave your pooch with some of his favorite toys, and even toys with treats him them. There are many toys out there now that allows you to put a treat in the toys and it requires your dog to work for it in order to reach his reward. This little technique can keep your dog busy for quite some time and also keep him from chewing some of your things. Getting yourself and your dog into better habits at home can result in a safer, and most positive home life. Creating a great atmosphere for your dog is key to ensuring he or she is a great addition to your family. To find out more tips and dog behavior training [] ideas be sure to take a look at my dog training blog. Article Source:

Continue reading →