Site logo

What Happens to Your Assets When You Die?

March 23, 2013

Tax Question:

What happens for Canadian income tax purposes to my assets when I die?


Upon death, your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries. Through a will, you can set how the assets are distributed, clearly identify your beneficiaries and plan to minimize taxes. If you die without a will, (intestate), the distribution of your assets is governed by legislation rather than by your wishes and you will lose the opportunity to make the distribution tax effective.


Some things to note regarding the distribution of assets are:

  • There are provisions that allow for a tax-free rollover of assets to spouses at death.
  • Assets left to beneficiaries, other than a spouse, are transferred at fair market value. This means the estate would owe taxes on any capital gains resulting from the deemed disposition.
  • Some assets, such as life insurance policies and investments such as RRSP’s can designate a beneficiary directly inside the plan itself and do not need to be dealt with inside a will.

Some non-tax issues to think about when drawing up a will are who to choose as an executor and who to appoint as guardian of your minor children. An executor is a person in charge of distributing your estate. The executor ensures your assets are distributed according to the instructions you left in your will, files your last tax returns and disposes of any other property. The guardian you appoint will raise your minor children in the event that you and your spouse both die. You will want to ensure that the guardian can responsibly use the money that you left your minor children to ensure their needs are met.

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact a member of the Empire CPA team by filling out the contact form below.

Canadian and foreign tax laws are complex and have a tendency to change on a frequent basis. As such, the content published above is believed to be accurate as of the date of this post. Before implementing any tax planning, please seek professional advice from a qualified tax professional. Empire, Chartered Professional Accountants will not accept any liability for any tax ramifications that may result from acting based on the information contained above.

Share this post

Related posts

Price and Valuation

Price and Valuation November 29, 2022 Question: When selling a business, how do you determine the actual price? Facts: Every business owner has contemplated when

Read More »