Gift now or will later?

Picture this. Thanks to a lifetime of savings and smart planning, you’re now well into retirement and living comfortably. In fact, you’ve saved so much and planned so well that, you’re sure to outlive a large portion of your money.

Here’s a question: do you hold on to what you have and wait until you pass on before willing your estate to family and those you care about most? Or should you share some of the wealth now, while you’re still around to see them enjoy it?

There are definitely worse dilemmas to have.

You may conclude there’s nothing to think about – it’s your money and everyone will just have to wait. After all, you scrimped and saved to get where you are and you believe it’ll strengthen your loved ones’ character to do the same. But for many, once you’ve taken some time to wrap your head around the idea – and you’re certain you’ll be financially secure for the rest of your live – gifting may be an attractive option. Why, you may conclude, should the people I care about most have as tough a slog as I did?

If gifting in the short term is something you’d like to consider, here are a few things to think about:

  • For starters, while there’s no shortage of taxes in Canada, cash gifts in any amount are tax-free. That means every cent of whatever amount you choose to give to a loved one is theirs to keep. (Of course, they will have taxes to pay in the future on any investment earnings they make from your gift.)
  • Another benefit of making cash gifts while you’re alive is that you can – at least for the time being – decide how the money is used. For instance, you may not want to deposit cash into a child or grandchild’s bank account, where they could use their windfall for spending you deem frivolous, but choose instead to help them pay down their mortgage.
  • There’s also nothing to say every loved one’s gift has to be doled out in the same way or amount. As I mentioned, one may need help paying a $50,000 mortgage, another may have $10,000 in credit card debt, and yet someone else may have plans for a wedding or a post-graduate degree. Who you gift and how much you give is entirely up to you.

It’s also worth thinking about what money you should use for your gifts. Ideally, you’ll want to choose your least-hardworking savings and, for instance, leave investments with a large dividend payout untouched.

Gifting is not a strategy everyone is comfortable with, but for many it’s a satisfying way to help those you care about. If you’d like to chat more about whether gifting is right for you or how to make the most of it, or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me any time.