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Building a lasting legacy: Strategies to secure your family’s future financially and emotionally

From taxes to down payments, what to consider before giving loved ones a financial gift
Lynette Lindemann, Assistant Branch Manager with Valley First.

Approaching retirement is undoubtedly an exciting time for many, as their decades-long journey of diligent savings and hard work is rewarded with new and exciting pursuits. However, over the past few years, the feeling of excitement has been dampened by economic uncertainty around interest rates, inflation and housing markets. This is especially true for those who are balancing the desire to help their children get ahead financially, while also ensuring they have their retirement plans well in hand.

“Many of my members around retirement age have only recently moved to the Okanagan, having downsized from Toronto or Vancouver. They have a comfortable financial picture, but in terms of professional relationships with an accountant, a lawyer or other advisors, they’re starting from scratch and so building this team of experts can be really valuable, especially as they approach retirement,” says Lynette Lindemann, Assistant Branch Manager with Valley First.

With a wealth of information online and decades of your own experience saving for retirement, you may wonder why you need a plan at all. But even if your own financial picture is secure, there are benefits to planning ahead.

“If you anticipate that you’ll have excess funds when you pass away, your estate may have to pay significant taxes. It may make sense to distribute some gifts to loved ones while you’re still alive to see them enjoyed,” Lindemann says.

Leaving a legacy to those you love

If parents approaching retirement age aren’t worried about their own future, they may be worrying about their children.

“There may be enough in your savings account to pay the downpayment on your child’s first home, but it’s important to be sure you can afford it. If you face a health emergency, there’s no guarantee your children will be able to give the money back.”

Lindemann has worked with members who thought they could give $200,000 to a family member, but when they crunch the numbers it turns out their maximum is much less.

Gifting property

“Gifting property comes with its own tax implications. Your primary residence is exempt from capital gains, but you’re still required to take into consideration fair market value, and there may be property transfer taxes.”

If they have contribution room available, giving to your children or grandchildren’s TFSA, RRSP or RESP can be a great way to leave a lasting legacy — and avoid probate when you pass away..


No matter what you decide, Lindemann says open communication is key.

“When you have multiple children, transparency is important. If you have a child that has a greater need for a financial gift than another, the last thing you want to do is keep their siblings in the dark and have it come up later once mom and dad pass away. Too often we forget about leaving behind this type of family legacy when we are looking at financial gifting.”

Every person is different, and that means every financial plan needs to be unique. A solid financial plan that considers your future income and projected spending can help you decide if you can afford to make your desired gift without impacting your desired lifestyle.

gifting property - tax implications - refer to tax accountant and lawyer