Cottage Succession Planning Fire is Burning/Draw Nearer How to Avoid the Common Pitfalls and Keep your Estate out of Litigation Justin W. de Vries Gwen A. Benjamin What are the Options?
Wait Until Death and Leave discretion to the Executors Direct that the cottage be sold by the Executors Gift the cottage to one or more children Create a trust for the cottage with a maintenance fund for one or more children Delay distribution for some period of time so that the children can decide and during that period hold in trust Donate it to a charity approved by the Minister of the Environment
Deal with it during lifetime Gift to a child or children Sale to a child or children at full value or for lesser value Retain a life interest and gift residual interest Transfer to an inter vivos trust; family trust, joint partner trust, alter ego trust Transfer to a not for profit corporation
Donate it to a charity approved by the Minister of the Environment Discuss your Plans with your Children Even if you consider a cottage spousal rollover, issues surrounding the cottage will continue to fester
Address them as a family. Do not let your spouse deal with the difficult decisions alone Blended Families are common your spouse may remarry, your children may divorce and remarry other people Talk
Talk to your children (preferably at the same time). Some children may want the cottage, some may want to sell it. You may be surprised by how they feel Capital gains tax: Who will pay? Seek professional advice Dont Forget about the
Capital Gains No matter whether disposed of during lifetime or on death: Increase in fair market value will be taxed on death or earlier disposition unless cottage passes to a spouse, spouse or common law partner trust, alter ego, joint partner of joint spousal trust or unless the principal residence exemption is available If rollover and/or principal residence exemption not available, estate/owner may not have the liquidity to pay the tax. How will tax bill be
funded? Principal Residence Exemption Consider whether the whole property will qualify as a principal residence: If property exceeds hectare - is the remaining property necessary for the use and enjoyment of the housing unit as a residence? Cassidy v. R. 2011 DTC 5160 Federal Court of Appeal
Part of land is rental e.g. Mavis v. Mavis 2005 CarswellOnt 1649 Ontario Superior Court of Justice Remember there are two principal residence exemptions until 1982 Waiting Until Death 1.
Leaving it up to the Executor: How much discretion do we give the Executor? Retallack (Trustee of) v. Retallack 2014 ONSC 6430 Application for directions by the executor
Interpretation of clause permitting the trustee to make any division of the estate and to fix the value of the estate for the purposes of division in the face of a clause dividing the estate equally. Even hand rule not ousted Does the clause give the Executor the discretion to determine the date of valuation of a cottage and the value at which beneficiaries take the cottage? Intention was to divide the estate equally between the five children and they should
share in any increase in value since death. Valuation should generally be date of distribution, not date of death (Ruddenham, Re (1971) 2 NSR (2d) 729 (NSCA); Fray v. Evans 2013 ONCA 776 (Ont CA) 2. Directing that the cottage be sold to third parties by Executors should the
beneficiaries have a right of first refusal? 3. Gifting cottage to one or more Beneficiaries Residue of the estate bears the burden of the tax liability unless it is stated otherwise Should contents of the cottage also be gifted?
Consider use of a hotchpot clause to equalize the residuary beneficiaries Are there enough other assets in the estate to equalize? What happens when the value of the cottage exceeds the beneficiarys interest in the residue? If gifted to more than one Beneficiary, is the cottage to be held in joint tenancy or tenancy in common? Subject to contrary intention, generally presumption of tenancy in common Watch out for statutory anti-lapse provisions in the event that a beneficiary predeceases testator
Should the Testator require a co-tenancy agreement as a condition of the gift? Creating a Trust for the Cottage with maintenance fund for a set period of time or for one or more generations or until the children decide if one or more of them want it: Impact on the estate itself funding of tax payments, legacies? What constitutes maintenance? Trustees as policemen Build in Trustee discretion
Talk Often If you divide the cottage into shares develop a comprehensive plan: How will the shares be valued? Valuation date? Factor in estate and tax liabilities When will the cottage or the value of the cottage be divided into shares? Preferable before death? Talk some more
If cottage land is going to be partitioned, severed or sold who will pay for the severance application, real estate fees, environmental surveys? Professional tax advice is crucial A professional can direct the conversation and keep it on track Retain a lawyer if you intend to gift the cottage in your will, create a trust, etc. A cottage should be part of a comprehensive estate plan.
Be Realistic Is it practical to keep the cottage in the family? Look at the siblings dynamics Siblings who do not get along now will not get along after your death Be Realistic One sibling may use the cottage more, or help out in maintaining the cottage
Parents are often the glue that keeps the family together. The death of a parent(s) deeply impacts family relationships What to Consider Will your children or grandchildren be able to fund and make use of the cottage?
Will they live elsewhere? Is your estate large enough to compensate the children who do not receive the cottage? Sell the blasted Cottage Appreciated property values =
significant tax bills. Can your estate afford this tax liability? Remember a Maintenance Fund Future legal, professional and administrative fees
Sell the blasted Cottage Selling the cottage now may be the best option It may force the hands of your children
However, the process may be unfair if not all children earn the same income Shared Ownership Solve the Issues Now Shared ownership raises many issues Who decides the schedule for sharing the cottage? Can two families share the cottage during the same weekend? Can siblings invite guests without permission?
Problems with Shared Ownership Different families = different personalities: the retreat weekend vs. the party weekend How will expenses be paid? Who pays for home improvements, damage to the property, new furniture What if one sibling cannot afford to contribute? Litigation Cases
The Bidding Process: Plan it Ahead of Time When siblings compete to buy the family cottage problems can arise It is difficult to think of a bidding process that does not alienate at least one child Aitken v. Trainor (2002) Mother died intestate and left 9 children Two brothers (Terrence and Thomas) were appointed as estate trustees Sister, Mary, wanted to purchase the cottage Two brothers, David and Dennis, also wanted to
purchase the cottage Terrence and Thomas wrote out the terms of the bidding process, including a minimum acceptable price and a short timeframe for the bidding. They involved a local lawyer in the process as Terrence and Thomas resided in the United States Marys bid had the wrong date and was declared null and void David and Dennis bid was $1,000 over and above the highest bid. As there were no other valid bidders, this bid was also dismissed
David and Dennis made a subsequent bid of $117,000. Mary made a bid for $120,000. The estate rejected Marys bid and accepted David and Dennis bid as this offer was in the long term best interest in the estate Mary claimed she was unfairly treated in the bidding for the cottage and obtained a certificate of pending litigation (CPL) on the cottage Terrence and Thomas sought that the CPL be vacated. The issue was set down for trial Litigation resulted in a deterioration of the family
relationships, costs to the estate, possible costs to the parties, and a prohibition on the use of the property until all litigation was solved Beware Change of Use! What if there is insufficient cash flow to pay expenses? Change of use issues if cottage is rented to cover expenses Deemed to have disposed of the property for proceeds of disposition equal to the fair market value of the property and to have
reacquired it immediately thereafter at a cost equal to that fair market value. Election An election can be filed under subsection 45(2) of the ITA to defer the gain if there is a complete change of use provided that the election is filed in the taxation year in which the change of use occurred.
However, if the income producing element is ancillary to the main use of the property, there has been no structural change to the property and capital cost allowance has not been claimed, CRA will not consider that there has been a disposition. See Technical Interpretation 2010-036045 September 16, 2011 Other Options? A gift of land if it is ecologically sensitive land
Benefits: Charitable tax receipt up to 100 percent of income Nil capital gains rate Carry forward of credit for 10 years Flexibility for a graduated rate estate Requirements Must be certified as ecological land by Environment Canada
Environment Canada certifies the fair market value Recipient must be the federal government, a provincial government or a municipality or a registered charity approved by Environment Canada
(e.g. Nature Conservancy of Canada) Transferring During Lifetime Gift to child or children Sale to child or children at full value or lesser value Using capital gains reserve
Transferring Residual Interest Transferring a remainder interest possible loss of principal residence exemption on increase in value to date of death Possible increase in gain on subsequent disposition by the residual owners Depedrina v. R. 2005 D.T.C. 1386 (Tax Court of Canada) Transferring to an Inter Vivos Trust
Benefits of transferring to a trust during lifetime include: Seamless on death Avoids probate fees and, in Ontario, filing of new return to the Ministry of Finance Management of asset in the event of incapacity Transfer by Trust When a Family Breaks Up Rose v. Rose (2006)
In 1992, Brian and his then wife, Janice, created a trust for the benefit of their two young daughters. The only assets of the trust were a cottage (purchased together) and a ski chalet (Brian purchased before marriage). Both properties were transferred to the daughters by trust. Brian was the trustee of the trust. Brian and Janice married in 1981 and divorced in 2003 It was a messy divorce and the daughters sided with Janice
Brian continued to use the properties and argued that that trust allowed him and Janice to use the properties. The daughters did not want Brian to use the properties Application by the two daughters to remove their father (Brian) as estate trustee of the trust and to wind up the trust
Brian claimed that he only created the trust to avoid capital gains taxes and wanted it transferred back to him and Janice Janice claimed that intent of the trust was to ensure that the properties went to the daughters The court found that the trust did not permit the parents to use or occupy the properties and the trust could not be altered to create that use Trusts Giving it Away Brian was removed as trustee as a result of the hostility between him and his two daughters
The ski chalet was sold as there was a shortfall between its upkeep and the income it was generating. However, the trust was not wound up The Childrens Lawyer was involved because of the potential rights of unborn and unascertained minors in the trust deed This trust was irrevocable Brian cannot get asset back Some Concerns How can we draft the trust to avoid the Rose v. Rose situation? Attribution issues who contributed what? Section 75(2) Income Tax Act
21 Year Deemed Disposition Creating a life interest? Residue to Trust? Issues with the Principal Residence Exemption and Inter Vivos Trusts Principal residence exemption is shared by specified beneficiaries of the Trust. Specified beneficiary is a person who is a beneficiary of a trust and who ordinarily inhabits the residence or who is a spouse or common law partner of such a person.
The trust is permitted to designate the property as the principal residence provided that no other specified beneficiary designates any other property. Constructive Trust and Creating a Beneficial Interest in Cottage
Many cases in which one child does most of the work to maintain the cottage The child then falls out with a parent and later sues the parent or the estate for unjust enrichment/constructive trust Litigation Cases Sheldrake v. Sheldrake (2008) Son (Douglas) sought a declared interest/constructive trust in two family cottages In 2000, Douglas claimed that his mother wanted to keep the two cottages in the family and promised him
the two cottages on her death, if he repaired them and moved in One cottage was for Douglas and the other cottage was for him to rent out and earn income Douglas made numerous repairs, improvements and renovations on the properties, mostly with his mother covering the majority of costs for materials and repairs. At other times, expenses were shared In 2003, the relationship between the Douglas and his mother changed for the worse. She requested that he sell the small cottage. Another son became
involved and told Douglas that he had no claim to the properties In 2006, the mother went to court and Douglas had to leave the large cottage Ultimately, the court found that Douglas was entitled to a declaration to a beneficial interest in both properties and his mother held them in trust for him Tenancies in Common: Think Ahead
Koch v. Koch (2008) Title to an island bought by father and conveyed to his three daughters and himself as tenants in common Only one daughter really used the island, but the other two daughters wanted to sell their shares for the best price Discussion of the partition of island started while father was alive but was not completed One daughter agreed to bring a severance application but stopped because of the expense. Survey errors made the
process more expensive The daughters went to court to argue who should pay property taxes, the environmental assessment reports, the boundaries of the property division, and who should pay for legal fees associated with errors in the first severance application One sister claimed her other sister should pay occupation rent for the use of the cottage Matters decided by the court at a great expense to all parties
Cottage has to be Maintained Grafton Estate v. Canada Trust Co. (2012) Testator left life interest in an idyllic cottage to Ms. Ross and her (now deceased sister) and a capital account to maintain the cottage Ms. Rosss children were the residual beneficiaries Ms. Ross and Canada Trust were the remaining coexecutors The cottage needed significant repairs Ms. Ross had invested $126,000 into maintaining the cottage but the estate accounts were empty and
the capital account was exhausted Ms. Ross wanted to enter into a reverse mortgage Three of her four children believed this mortgage would be detrimental to their interests Canada Trust would not agree to the mortgage plan so Ms. Ross sought to remove it as executor Judge found that the plan was vague and might not increase the property value Could not say that the plan was in the interests of the residual beneficiaries as much as it was in Ms.
Ross's: conflict between her interest and her fiduciary duties No grounds to remove Canada Trust It was unforeseen by testator that there would not be enough money to maintain the cottage Proprietary estoppel can be trumped by dependant support Cowderoy v. Sorkos Estate (2012) revd (2014) Deceased married Victoria and treated her grandchildren as his own He and Victoria bought a cottage which the
grandchildren helped out at Deceased told the grandchildren that instead of being paid they would receive the cottage in his will Grandchildren assisted at the cottage for over 25 years conducting repairs and tending the grounds Deceaseds 2001 will left the grandchildren the cottage (and other properties they helped with) Victoria died and the Deceased remarried His new wills did not leave the grandchildren the cottage (or the other properties they helped with)
Judge found that as a matter of proprietary estoppel the Deceaseds estate had to convey the cottage to the grandchildren It would be unconscionable to the grandchildren to hold otherwise, as they had altered their lives for 25 years to the Deceaseds benefit and their detriment The Court of Appeal did not disturb the trial judges findings that the Deceased should have left the cottage to the grandchildren However, the Court of Appeal held that the trial
judge erred by turning a promise to bequeath into an obligation to convey The grandchildren should be in the same position as if the Deceased hadnt changed his will The Deceaseds new wife had claimed for dependant support against the Estate Any excess value in the cottage (and the other properties) over the value added by the grandchildren on a quantum meruit basis should be available, if necessary, for the new wifes dependant support
The Court of Appeal remitted the matter back to the lower court Transfer to Not-for-Profit Corporation Transfer ownership to a not for profit corporation Tax on transfer unless sheltered by principal residence exemption Family members become members of the corporation Membership fees pay to maintain the
property Exempt from tax if: It is a club, society or association It is not a charity It is organized and operated exclusively for social welfare, civic improvement, pleasure, recreation, or any other purpose except profit; and It does not distribute or otherwise make available
for the personal benefit of a member or shareholder any of its income, unless the organization is an association which has as its primary purpose and function the promotion of amateur athletics in Canada
Technical Interpretation 2010-0358021E5 Property on which members built (and owned personally) cottages was owned by the not for profit corporation Second piece of adjacent property purchased by the corporation for the use and enjoyment of the shareholders Fees were for capital and operational expenses Corporation offering the second piece of property for sale capital gains will arise
If main purpose is provide.recreational facilities for members, a not for profit corporation is effectively taxable on all capital gains except capital gains resulting from the disposition of property used exclusively or directly in the course of providing. recreational facilities to members
CRA says that the term recreational is sufficient to include pleasure activities which would be typical of activities at a cottage. If the property to be sold is used exclusively for recreational activities of the members then gains would not be taxable to the corporation
Technical Interpretation 2011-0397881E5 If a member is able to use property of a not for profit corporation for less than fair market value, there may be a shareholder benefit included in their income. Objects were to purchase, maintain and manage a property for use by its members. Members had built and personally own cottages on the property.
Although the members may have acquired a right to use the property unless separate fair market value consideration was paid for the use of the property, there may be a shareholder benefit. Non-Profit Risk Identification Project. Before using a not for profit structure: the impact of capital gains on transfer the fee structure how the fees will be invested the impact of potential shareholder benefits
Tips to Avoid Litigation Turn your mind to transferring or gifting your cottage early on - this gives you more options Consider tax saving strategies, the purchase of life insurance to cover expenses, etc
Tips to Avoid Litigation Dont walk away and tell yourself let them figure it out, they got the cottage didnt they. A cottage can destroy your family Do not assume your children will get along when it comes to sharing the cottage or selling the cottage after your death
Tips to Avoid Litigation Speak up. Play referee. Do not be silent on the issue Help your children by letting them know how you feel
Give all your children the same information. Treat them equally Tips to Avoid Litigation Come up with a comprehensive plan whether you decide to gift the cottage while alive or in your will Issues to keep in mind:
Maintenance costs Increased property value Sever lots Do not assume that a child who maintains the cottage will be satisfied with the same share as his/her siblings
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