Early Inheritance

Joys and Risks

2017-10-05

Most parents carefully plan to leave an inheritance to their children. Often overlooked is the possibility of sharing that wealth early, when children might need it more. If this option sounds appealing, there are 3 key issues to consider:

1. Now could be the best time to provide assistance to your child

Why wait? When adult children are in a typically stressful life phase, perhaps juggling tuition payments, a mortgage, childcare, and other significant expenses, the benefits of an early inheritance could far outweigh waiting.

2. Don’t compromise your own retirement

As we continue to lead healthier, longer lives, the cost of retirement only keeps increasing. Gifting children too much early inheritance shouldn’t leave parents incurring debt towards the end of their own retirement.

3. There is no requirement to give equally

At parent’s(s’) discretion, each child can receive the same amount of early inheritance or parents can choose to provide an early inheritance to any combination of children in any amount.

KEY CONCEPTS:

  • Unlike our neighbours to the south, in Canada, there is no maximum amount on cash gifts from parents to adult children; neither is there a tax consequence nor income reporting requirement for either party when parents gift cash to adult children
  • The terms Early inheritance and Gift are synonymous; any significant amount given to a child is considered a part of their inheritance
  • In cases of more than one child, where an “early” amount wasn’t gifted equally to all, the child(ren) who did receive the gift would likely have that amount deducted from his/her/their final inheritance – this keeps things equal amongst siblings
  • To eliminate the above issue: a cash gift can be fully documented as a loan, any kind of legitimate repayment plan should be implemented, and then the will should specify that any outstanding loans are forgiven. (Seek professional advice to properly implement this kind of arrangement.)

For an enjoyable quality of life, security, and stability, most parents work very hard for many years. After putting money aside for a comfortable retirement, if additional unneeded liquidity is available, the gift of an early inheritance can be a greatly satisfying reward that permits witness of the benefits.