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Definition of Will

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Will

This is a legal document detailing how you want your assets to be distributed upon your death. You may also stipulate how you wish to be buried or who you would like to take care of any surviving dependent family members. In my opinion, it is very important to be quite specific about your wishes for the distribution of special assets such as the antique grandfather clock, the classic silver tea set or the antique piano. If you think that your beneficiaries may dispute how your things are to be distributed, consider stipulating that an auction be held in which all beneficiaries may bid on the item which they value and all moneys collected are then shared in the same manner in which you distributed your other liquid assets. Your might want to remember that a will is automatically revoked upon marriage unless the will specifically states that the will is made in contemplation of marriage.



Related Terms:

Living Will

This is a will which specifically expresses the testator's desire not to be kept alive on life support machines, should the occasion arise.


Assuris

Assuris is a not for profit organization that protects Canadian policyholders in the event that their life insurance company should become insolvent. Their role is to protect policyholders by minimizing loss of benefits and ensuring a quick transfer of their policies to a solvent company where their benefits will continue to be honoured. Assuris is funded by the life insurance industry and endorsed by government. If you are a Canadian citizen or resident, and you purchased a product from a member life insurance company in Canada, you are protected by Assuris.
All life insurance companies authorized to sell in Canada are required, by the federal, provincial and territorial regulators, to become members of Assuris. Members cannot terminate their membership as long as they are licensed to write business in Canada or have any in force business in Canada.
If your life insurance company fails, your policies will be transferred to a solvent company. Assuris guarantees that you will retain at least 85% of the insurance benefits you were promised. Insurance benefits include Death, Health Expense, Monthly Income and Cash Value. Your deposit type products will also be transferred to a solvent company. For these products, Assuris guarantees that you will retain 100% of your Accumulated Value up to $100,000. Deposit type products include accumulation annuities, universal life overflow accounts, premium deposit accounts and dividend deposit accounts. The key to Assuris protection is that it is applied to all benefits of a similar type. If you have more than one policy with the failed company, you will need to add together all similar benefits before applying the Assuris protection. The Assuris website can be found at www.assuris.ca.


Attribution Rules

Legislation under which interest, dividends, or capital gains earned on assets you transfer to your spouse will be treated as your own for tax purposes. Interest or dividends relating to property transferred to children under 18 also will be attributed back to you. The exception to this rule is that capital gains relating to property transferred to children under 18 will not be attributed back to you.


Beneficiary

This is the person who benefits from the terms of a trust, a will, an RRSP, a RRIF, a LIF, an annuity or a life insurance policy. In relation to RRSP's, RRIF's, LIF's, Annuities and of course life insurance, if the beneficiary is a spouse, parent, offspring or grand-child, they are considered to be a preferred beneficiary. If the insured has named a preferred beneficiary, the death benefit is invariably protected from creditors. There have been some court challenges of this right of protection but so far they have been unsuccessful. See "Creditor Protection" below. A beneficiary under the age of 18 must be represented by an individual guardian over the age of 18 or a public official who represents minors generally. A policy owner may, in the designation of a beneficiary, appoint someone to act as trustee for a minor. Death benefits are not subject to income taxes. If you make your beneficiary your estate, the death benefit will be included in your assets for probate. Probate filing fees are currently $14 per thousand of estate value in British Columbia and $15 per thousand of estate value in Ontario.
Another way to avoid probate fees or creditor claims against life insurance proceeds is for the insured person to designate and register with his/her insurance company's head office an irrevocable beneficiary. By making such a designation, the insured gives up the right to make any changes to his/her policy without the consent of the irrevocable beneficiary. Because of the seriousness of the implications, an irrevocable designation should only be made for good reason and where the insured fully understands the consequences.
NoteA successful challenge of the rules relating to beneficiaries was concluded in an Ontario court in 1996. The Insurance Act says its provisions relating to beneficiaries are made "notwithstanding the Succession Law Reform Act." There are two relevent provisions of the Succession Law Reform Act. One section of the act gives a judge the power to make any order concerning an estate if the deceased person has failed to provide for a dependant. Another section says money from a life insurance policy can be considered part of the estate if an order is made to support a dependant. In the case in question, the deceased had attempted to deceive his lawful dependents by making his common-law-spouse the beneficiary of an insurance policy which by court order was supposed to name his ex-spouse and children as beneficiaries.


Buy/Sell Agreement

This is an agreement entered into by the owners of a business to define the conditions under which the interests of each shareholder will be bought and sold. The agreement sets the value of each shareholders interest and stipulates what happens when one of the owners wishes to dispose of his/her interest during his/her lifetime as well as disposal of interest upon death or disability. Life insurance, critical illness coverage and disability insurance are major considerations to help fund this type of agreement.



Creditor Proof Protection

The creditor proof status of such things as life insurance, non-registered life insurance investments, life insurance RRSPs and life insurance RRIFs make these attractive products for high net worth individuals, professionals and business owners who may have creditor concerns. Under most circumstances the creditor proof rules of the different provincial insurance acts take priority over the federal bankruptcy rules.
The provincial insurance acts protect life insurance products which have a family class beneficiary. Family class beneficiaries include the spouse, parent, child or grandchild of the life insured, except in Quebec, where creditor protection rules apply to spouse, ascendants and descendants of the insured. Investments sold by other financial institutions do not offer the same security should the holder go bankrupt. There are also circumstances under which the creditor proof protections do not hold for life insurance products. Federal bankruptcy law disallows the protection for any transfers made within one year of bankruptcy. In addition, should it be found that a person shifted money to an insurance company fund in bad faith for the specific purpose of avoiding creditors, these funds will not be creditor proof.


Disability Insurance

Insurance that pays you an ongoing income if you become disabled and are unable to pursue employment or business activities. There are limits to how much you can receive based on your pre-disability earnings. Rates will vary based on occupational duties and length of time in a particular industry. This kind of coverage has a waiting period before you can begin collecting benefits, usually 30, 60 or 90 days. The benefit paying period also varies from 2 years to age 65. A short waiting period will cost more that a longer waiting period. As well, a long benefit paying period will cost more than a short benefit paying period.


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Insurable Interest

In England in the 1700's it was popular to bet on the date of death of certain prominent public figures. Anyone could buy life insurance on another's life, even without their consent. Unfortunately, some died before it was their time, dispatched prematurely in order that the life insurance proceeds could be collected. In 1774, English Parliament passed a law which restricted the right to be a beneficiary on a life insurance contract to those who would suffer an economic loss when the life insured died. The law also provided that a person has an unlimited insurable interest in his own life. It is still a legal stipulation that an insurance contract is not valid unless insurable interest exists at the time the policy is issued. Life Insurance companies will not, however, issue unlimited amounts of coverage to an individual. The amount of life insurance which will be approved has to approximate the loss caused by the death of the individual and must not result in a windfall for the beneficiary.


Insured

This is the person covered by the life insurance policy. Upon this person's death, a tax free benefit will be paid to that person's estate or a named beneficiary.


Intestate

This means dying without a will, in which case the provincial laws of the province in which the death occurred apply to the manner in which assets will be distributed. In other words, if you don't write your own will, the government will do it for you after your death and it may not be as you would have wished.


Lapse

This refers to the termination of an insurance policy due to the owner of the policy failing to pay the premium within the grace period [Usually within 30 days after the last regular premium was required and not paid]. It is possible to re-instate the coverage with the same premium and benefits intact but the life insured will have to qualify for this coverage all over again and bring up to date all unpaid premiums.


Lapse subsidized

This refers to the practice of some life insurance companies to offer policies which are lower in price because they have assumed a high probability that the policies will be cashed in by their owners for one reason or another before the death benefit becomes available. It is a bold and risky offer by the insurance company because sometimes the purchasers of these policies simply don't lapse them.


Living Benefit

Some insurance companies include this benefit option at no cost to their policy holders. The insurer considers on a case to case basis, the need for insurance funds before death. If the insured can demonstrate a shortened life of less than two years and with some insurers one year, the insurer will consider releasing up to 50% or a maximum of $100,000 of the life insurance coverage held by the insured. Not all insurers offer this benefit for free. The need has resulted in specific stand alone living benefit/critical illness policies coming into existence. Look under "Different types of Life Insurance" for further information. You might have heard of "Viatical Settlements", the practice of seriously ill people selling the rights to their life insurance policies to third parties. This practice is common in the United States but has not caught on in Canada.


Mortgage Insurance

Commonly sold in the form of reducing term life insurance by lending institutions, this is life insurance with a death benefit reducing to zero over a specific period of time, usually 20 to 25 years. In most instances, the cost of coverage remains level, while the death benefit continues to decline. Re-stated, the cost of this kind of insurance is actually increasing since less death benefit is paid as the outstanding mortgage balance decreases while the cost remains the same. Lending institutions are the most popular sources for this kind of coverage because it is usually sold during the purchase of a new mortgage. The untrained institution mortgage sales person often gives the impression that this is the only place mortgage insurance can be purchased but it is more efficiently purchased at a lower cost and with more flexibility, directly from traditional life insurance companies. No matter where it is purchased, the reducing term insurance death benefit reduces over a set period of years. Most consumers are up-sizing their residences, not down-sizing, so it is likely that more coverage is required as years pass, rather than less coverage.
The cost of mortgage lender's insurance group coverage is based on a blended non-smoker/smoker rate, not having any advantage to either male or female. Mortgage lender's group insurance certificate specifies that it [the lender] is the sole beneficiary entitled to receive the death benefit. Mortgage lender's group insurance is not portable and is not guaranteed. Generally speaking, your coverage is void if you do not occupy the house for a period of time, rent the home, fall into arrears on the mortgage, and there are a few others which vary by institution. If, for example, you sell your home and buy another, your current mortgage insurance coverage ends and you will have to qualify for new coverage when you purchase your next home. Maybe you won't be able to qualify. Not being guaranteed means that it is possible for the lending institution's group insurance carrier to cancel all policy holder's coverages if they are experiencing too many death benefit claims.
Mortgage insurance purchased from a life insurance company, is priced, based on gender, smoking status, health and lifestyle of the purchaser. Once obtained, it is a unilateral contract in your favour, which cannot be cancelled by the insurance company unless you say so or unless you stop paying for it. It pays upon the death of the life insured to any "named beneficiary" you choose, tax free. If, instead of reducing term life insurance, you have purchased enough level or increasing life insurance coverage based on your projection of future need, you can buy as many new homes in the future as you want and you won't have to worry about coverage you might loose by renewing or increasing your mortgage.
It is worth mentioning mortgage creditor protection insurance since it is many times mistakenly referred to simply as mortgage insurance. If a home buyer has a limited amount of down payment towards a substantial home purchase price, he/she may qualify for a high ratio mortgage on a home purchase if a lump sum fee is paid for mortgage creditor protection insurance. The only Canadian mortgage lenders currently known to offer this option through the distribution system of banks and trust companies, are General Electric Capital [GE Capital] and Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation [CMHC]. The lump sum fee is mandatory when the mortgage is more than 75% of the value of the property being purchased. The lump sum fee is usually added onto the mortgage. It's important to realize that the only beneficiary of this type of coverage is the morgage lender, which is the bank or trust company through which the buyer arranged their mortgage. If the buyer for some reason defaults on this kind of high ratio mortgage and the value of the property has dropped since being purchased, the mortgage creditor protection insurance makes certain that the bank or trust company gets paid. However, this is not the end of the story, because whatever the difference is, between the disposition value of the property and whatever sum of unpaid mortgage money is outstanding to either GE Capital or CMHC will be the subject of collection procedures against the defaulting home buyer. Therefore, one should conclude that this kind of insurance offers protection only to the bank or trust company and absolutely no protection to the home buyer.


Non-Medical Limit

This is the maximum value of a policy that an insurance company will issue without the applicant taking a medical examination, although medical questions are invariably asked during the application process. When a non-medical issue is made through group insurance, in most cases, medical data is not requested at all.


Premium

This is your payment for the cost of insurance. You may pay annually, semi-annually, quarterly or monthly. The least expensive method is annually. Using any of the other payment modes will cost you more money. For example, paying monthly will cost about 17% more. If you pay annually and terminate your coverage part way through the year, you may not receive a refund for the remaining months to the annual renewal date.
The cost of life insurance varies by age, sex, health, lifestyle, avocation and occupation. Generally speaking, the following is true at the time of applying for coverage; the older you are, the more will be the cost; of a male and female of the same age, the female will be considered 4 years younger; health problems will increase the cost of insurance and may result in rejection altogether; dangerous hobbies such as SCUBA diving, private flying, bungi jumping, parachuting, etc. may increase the cost of insurance and may result in rejection altogether; abuse of alcohol or drugs or a poor driving record will make getting coverage difficult.


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Probate

Letters probate represent judicial certification of the validity of a will and judicial confirmation ofthe authority of the personal representative who is to administer the will. Essentially, probate fees are a tax on a person's estate and except for the provinces of Quebec and Alberta, there is no limit to this tax.


Registered Pension Plan

Commonly referred to as an RPP this is a tax sheltered employee group plan approved by Federal and Provincial governments allowing employees to have deductions made directly from their wages by their employer with a resulting reduction of income taxes at source. These plans are easy to implement but difficult to dissolve should the group have a change of heart. Employer contributions are usually a percentage of the employee's salary, typically from 3% to 5%, with a maximum of the lessor of 20% or $3,500 per annum. The employee has the same right of contribution. Vesting is generally set at 2 years, which means that the employee has right of ownership of both his/her and his/her employers contributions to the plan after 2 years. It also means that all contributions are locked in after 2 years and cannot be cashed in for use by the employee in a low income year. Should the employee change jobs, these funds can only be transferred to the RPP of a new employer or the funds can be transferred to an individual RRSP (or any number of RRSPs) but in either scenario, the funds are locked in and cannot be accessed until at least age 60. The only choices available to access locked in RPP funds after age 60 are the conversion to a Life Income Fund or a Unisex Annuity.
To further define an RPP, Registered Pension Plans take two forms; Defined Benefit or Defined Contribution (also known as money purchase plans). The Defined Benefit plan establishes the amount of money in advance that is to be paid out at retirement based usually on number of years of employee service and various formulae involving percentages of average employee earnings. The Defined Benefit plan is subject to constant government scrutiny to make certain that sufficient contributions are being made to provide for the predetermined pension payout. On the other hand, the Defined Contribution plan is considerably easier to manage. The employer simply determines the percentage to be contributed within the prescribed limits. Whatever amount has grown in the employee's reserve by retirement determines how much the pension payout will be by virtue of the amount of LIF or Annuity payout it will purchase.
The most simple group RRSP plan is a group billed RRSP. This means that each employee has his own RRSP plan and the employer deducts the contributions directly from the employee's wages and sends them directly to the RRSP plan administrator. Regular RRSP rules apply in that maximum contribution in the current year is the lessor of 18% or $13,500. Generally, to encourage this kind of plan, the employer also agrees to make a regular contribution to the employee's plans, knowing full well that any contributions made immediately belong to the employee. Should the employee change jobs, he/she can take their plan with them and continue making contributions or cash it in and pay tax in the year in which the money is taken into income.



Reinstatement

This is the restoration of a lapsed life insurance policy. The life insurance company will require evidence of continuing good health and the payment of all past due premiums plus interest.


Replacement

This subject of replacement of existing policies is covered because sometimes existing life insurance policies are unnecessarily replaced with new coverage resulting in a loss of valuable benefits. If someone suggests replacing your existing coverage, insist on having a comparison disclosure statement completed.
The most important policies to examine in detail are those which were issued in Canada prior to December 2, 1982. If you have a policy of this vintage with a significant cash surrender value, you may want to consider keeping it. It has special tax advantages over policies issued after December 2, 1982.
Basically, the difference is this. The cash surrender value of a pre December, 1982 policy can be converted to an annuity in accordance with the settlement options in the policy and as a result, the tax on any policy gain can be spread over the duration of the annuity. Since only the interest element of the annuity payment will be taxed, there will be less of a tax impact on the annuitant. Policies issued after December 2, 1982 which have their cash surrender value annuitized trigger a disposition and the annuitant must pay tax on the total policy gain immediately. If you still decide to replace existing coverage, don't cancel what you have until the new coverage has been issued.


Rule of 72

This is a very important rule to know. The rule is that the number 72 divided by the rate of return of your investment equals the number of years it takes for your investment to double.
For example
* At 1% your money will double in 72 years.
* At 2% your money will double in 36 years.
* At 3% your money will double in 24 years.
* At 4% your money will double in 18 years.
* At 5% your money will double in 14.4 years.
* At 6% your money will double in 12 years.
* At 7% your money will double in 10.3 years.
* At 8% your money will double in 9 years.
* At 9% your money will double in 8 years.
* At 10% your money will double in 7.2 years.


Temporary Life Insurance

Temporary insurance coverage is available at time of application for a life insurance policy if certain conditions are met. Normally, temporary coverage relates to free coverage while the insurance company which is underwriting the risk, goes through the process of deciding whether or not they will grant a contract of coverage. The qualifications for temporary coverage vary from insurance company to insurance company but generally applicants will qualify if they are between the ages of 18 and 65, have no knowledge or suspicions of ill health, have not been absent from work for more than 7 days within the prior 6 months because of sickness or injury and total coverage applied for from all sources does not exceed $500,000. Normally a cheque covering a minimum of one months premium is required to complete the conditions for this kind of coverage. The insurance company applies this deposit towards the cost of a policy at its issue date, which may be several weeks in the future.


Underwriter

This could be the person (broker or agent) who helps you choose the proper type of life insurance or disability insurance and the insurance company for your particular needs. This could also be the person at the insurance company's head office who reviews your application for coverage to determine whether or not the insurance company will issue a policy to you.


Waiver of Premium

This is an option available to the applicant for life insurance which sets certain conditions under which an insurance policy will be kept in full force by the insurance company without the payment of premiums. Very specifically, a life insured would have to become totally disabled through injury or illness for a period of six months before the benefit kicks in. When it does, the insurance company retroactively pays premiums from the beginning of the disability until the time the insured is able to perform some form of regular activity. 'Totally disabled' is highlited here, because that is what is required to receive this benefit.


Beneficiary (Credit Insurance)

The person or party designated to receive proceeds entitled by a benefit. Payment of a benefit is triggered by an event. In the case of credit insurance, the beneficiary will always be the creditor.


Guaranteed Renewal

A promise that a life insurance policy will be renewed without penalty or medical examination after the term has expired. The renewal rate can also be guaranteed.


Premium Offset

After premiums have been paid for a number of years, further annual premiums may be paid by the current dividends and the surrender of some of the paid-up additions which have built up in the policy. In effect, the policy can begin to pay for itself. Whether a policy becomes eligible for premium offset, the date on which it becomes eligible and whether it remains eligible once premium offset begins, will all depend on how the dividend scale changes over the years. Since dividends are not guaranteed, premium offset cannot be guaranteed either.


Waiting Period (Credit Insurance)

A specific time that must pass following the onset of a covered disability before any benefits will be paid under a creditor disability policy. (Also known as an elimination period).



Debt-Service Ratio

The percentage of the borrower's gross income that will be used for monthly payments of principal, interest, taxes, heating costs and condominium fees.


Mirror Reverse

Mirror reversed plans show the design flipped 180 degrees just like looking at it reflected in a mirror. Keep in mind that all of the text will be flipped too. The fee allows you to have one or more sets shipped in mirror reverse format. We recommend having at least one regular set handy.


Noncombustible

The material will not burn. The glass fibers in PINK fiber glass insulation have a natural fire resistance, and are considered non-combustible when tested in accordance to ASTM E136.


Window Buck

Square or rectangular box that is installed within a concrete foundation or block wall. A window will eventually be installed in this "buck" during the siding stage of construction.


Yard of Concrete

One cubic yard of concrete is 3' x 3' x 3' in volume, or 27 cubic feet. One cubic yard of concrete will pour 80 square feet of 3 ˝" sidewalk or basement/garage floor.


Zone

The section of a building that is served by one heating or cooling loop because it has noticeably distinct heating or cooling needs. Also, the section of property that will be watered from a lawn sprinkler system.



 

 

 

 

 

 

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