The Perfect Match: Trusts + Marriage Contracts = Asset Protection

“I want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford. Then I want to move in with them.”
- Phyllis Diller

While we don’t all want to move in with our children once they are grown adults as Phyllis Diller quips above, we do want to ensure that our children enjoy an abundant, comfortable adult life.

One way to accomplish this is to create an estate plan that protects our children’s assets. Such protection becomes even more important when our children get married. Although we hope that our children’s marriages will stay strong and happy, matrimonial bliss doesn’t always last forever. To safeguard your children’s future, it is imperative to create an estate plan that provides maximum asset protection in case of divorce. Read the rest of this entry »

Is the Florida Land Trust the Right Plan for Canadians?



The Florida Land Trust is sometimes recommended for Americans to hold title of their personal use U.S. real property. It is relatively inexpensive to set up, it is an effective way of avoiding probate on the assets inside the trust and it may also avoid incapacity issues if properly set up. We have been seeing the Florida Land Trust as a recommendation for Canadians owning U.S. real property. Although the benefits previously listed apply to Canadians as well, there are some major pitfalls to Canadians owning their U.S. real estate in Florida Land Trusts. Read the rest of this entry »

Canadian Income Splitting and Issues for Americans



On October 1, 2013, the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) increased the prescribed interest rate to 2%. This change clearly affects Canadians looking to use prescribed rate loans as a strategy for income splitting, but prescribed rate loans used for income splitting purposes can also affect US citizens, US residents and even green card holders (collectively referred to as “US persons”). Before we jump too far ahead, let us take a moment to understand the income splitting strategy as it is used here in Canada.

One of the many differences between the Canadian and US tax systems is that, in the US, spouses can file a joint tax return, but in Canada, spouses are forced to declare their own personal income by filing separate tax returns. The net result (putting tax rates aside) is that a married couple will pay more tax in Canada than they would in the US. A common solution to this problem is the strategy of income splitting, which attempts to allocate income from a spouse taxed in a high tax bracket to members of that spouse’s family who are taxed at lower marginal rates. Read the rest of this entry »

What Obamacare Means for Canadians Looking to Move to the U.S.



As Canadians, we tend to take for granted the benefits we are entitled to when living in a country with universal healthcare. However, provincial healthcare is only available to Canadian residents who spend the requisite amount of time in their home province every year. Historically, when it came time for some Canadians to leave Canada, many were realizing that it was far from easy to get insured in the U.S., especially with a pre-existing condition or because of age. This obstacle alone could sometimes be a showstopper for those people who found themselves to be uninsurable.

The U.S. healthcare system is designed for those over age 65 to be covered through the U.S. Medicare program (“Medicare”). The problem with this for Canadians over 65 is that in order to be eligible to Medicare, one must either have had a green card for at least five years, be a U.S. citizen or be married to a U.S. citizen who has accumulated 40 quarters of social security. This means that in the past, people over 65 getting a green card and moving to the U.S. had to wait at least five years to be eligible to Medicare. If that person wanted to fill that five year insurance gap by getting private insurance for this period of time, it was nearly impossible to get coverage because private insurance companies were allowed to deny coverage to people of a certain age or having a pre-existing condition. Read the rest of this entry »

Matt C. Altro on CHCH Square Off

Toronto, ON – October 2, 2013 – US Travel Rules Could Change

Matt C. Altro, Cross Border Financial Planner, Partner and Chief Operating Officer at Altro Levy LLP, was recently interviewed by Mark Hebscher and Liz West on the Ontario television show Square Off airing on CHCH television. This was a special feature on cross border planning for Snowbirds who may want to extend their stay in the U.S. to 8-months following the potential new immigration bill put forward by the Gang of Eight in the U.S.. In the interview, Matt covers the possible additional costs to Snowbirds who may 8-months, which may include being subject to tax by the IRS on worldwide income and loss of Canadian healthcare benefits. The interview can be viewed by clicking here.

David A. Altro Interviewed on CTV News

October 27, 2013 – Canadian Snowbirds Take Flight

On October 27, 2013 CTV News invited Altro Levy LLP’s Managing Partner David A. Altro for a live on-air interview. As the Snowbirds take flight to warmer climates found in Florida and other Sun Belt states, David spoke to what they should be aware of if they are purchasing a property in the U.S., and possible financing strategies to help ease the cross border transaction. Read the rest of this entry »