Estate tax and wills in the U.S.

Fall 2014 CSANews Issue 93  |   Posted date : Jan 09, 2015.Back to list

Bird talk - Le Jaseur
Dear Bird Talk,

My wife and I own a home in Arizona. Can you give guidance concerning the estate tax? Specifically, circumventing it. Should we have a separate will for the U.S.? Should we have our children's names on the title? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

W Delorme
Calgary, AB

Response:
Ed.: For persons dying after 2004, there is no estate or inheritance tax in Arizona. For most persons (unless you are very wealthy), there is no federal tax. There is no need to have a will for the U.S. – your Canadian will is just fine. Adding children's names to the title could be done for succession purposes, but be aware that you, thereafter, cannot do anything with the property without their consent. You could not sell it or mortgage it, for instance. We know of several situations in which this joint ownership turned out to be a nightmare.

Two other things which you may wish to consider are a living will and a power of attorney. We recommend that you have one of each in Canada and also one of each in Arizona. An Arizona hospital and/or doctor would be very reluctant to depend on a Canadian document.

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