How do you deal with RRSP transfers upon death?


When RRSP assets are present in an estate, there are a few steps to follow to assist transferal in the event of inheritance, death or separation.

A surviving spouse can transfer the full amount of a spouse’s RRSP as a refund of premium by rolling it into his or her RRSP or RRIF, life annuity or term annuity depending on age. Preferably, name your spouse as the beneficiary under all RRSP plans when you set them up, or make this provision in your will. Note: Your advisor will be able to look at your situation and advise you.

If you leave no surviving spouse but there is an adult child or grandchild who is ‘financially dependent’ upon the deceased at the time of death, the full RRSP can be transferred tax-free to the child’s RRSP or used to buy an annuity or RRIF. Minors, however, must use the funds to purchase an annuity with payments to age 18. Note: Your advisor should be consulted to determine if an individual is ‘financially dependent’.

In most cases outside of financial dependency, the funds are taxed in the hands of the deceased on his or her last tax return. Life insurance strategies can offset the large tax liabilities associated with RRSP/RRIF assets that seniors will face, thus increasing inheritances.