Monday, June 4, 2018

Naming a Beneficiary on your Insurance & Investment Policies


In Ontario, the value of naming a beneficiary versus leaving money to your estate is significant.  

If you name a beneficiary, an insurance company is obligated, under the Insurance Act, to pay any death benefit proceeds to the named beneficiary on record. Because the death benefit proceeds do not pass through the estate, they not only avoid the delays of settling the estate but also bypass probate and other estate administration fees. In Ontario, probate fees on assets over $50,000 are 1.5%. Other estate administration, accounting and legal fees could be another 5% or more depending on the complexity of the estate.

The other reason to name a beneficiary is it makes the transaction private. Unlike a will - which becomes a public document, available for anyone to see when it goes to probate - naming a beneficiary means that only the person named needs to know the specifics. The extra privacy can prevent jealousy and tension among those named (or not named) in a will and reduce bad feelings over "getting my fair share".

Do you have a Life Insurance Policy, a Registered Investment Policy (e.g. a RRSP) or a Segregated Fund Investment Policy? All of these should have both a primary and a contingent beneficiary named on the policy (not in your will).

If you're not sure whether you have named a beneficiary, get in touch with me and I'll be pleased to help you out.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

OHIP Plus


OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare will allow Ontario residents aged 24 years and under to have access to many prescription drugs at no cost starting on January 1, 2018.

If you (or a dependant) is aged 24 years or under, there are about 4,400 drugs that will be paid for under the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program for OHIP+ eligible recipients and these will be processed and paid for right at your pharmacy. No other action will be required. You can check if your medication is covered through the ODB program at: www.ontario.ca/page/check-medication-coverage/

There are also other drugs, such as Exceptional Access Program (EAP) drugs, that will require your doctor (or in some cases a nurse practitioner) to fill out a form before OHIP+ will cover them. Also, if a drug is not available through the ODB program, it will not be covered through OHIP+.
 
Do I need OHIP+ if I, or my dependant, already has insurance through a Group Plan?
Yes. Prescription drugs that are covered by OHIP+ must be processed at your pharmacy through OHIP+ first, even if you have private insurance coverage – such as a group benefits plan. If there is an unpaid balance it may be eligible under your group benefits plan.

Do I need to sign up?
No. You simply need your Ontario health card number and a valid prescription.

What happens if I, or my dependant, is taking a drug that’s not funded through the ODB program?
If you or your dependant are taking a medication that is not funded through the ODB program, the drug will not be funded through OHIP+. Your pharmacy can submit the expense to your group benefits plan for consideration.

I use EpiPen®s
EpiPen® auto-injectors are covered through the ODB program and will be funded under OHIP+.
 
Will my doctor need to fill out a form first – through the Exceptional Access Program?
Exceptional Access Program (EAP) drugs require your doctor or a nurse practitioner to submit a form to the government before you can be approved for coverage under OHIP+.
These are generally specialized drugs that are only taken by a small percentage of people. If an EAP drug is still being prescribed to you or a dependent, contact your doctor (or nurse practitioner) to see if there is an alternative and suitable drug covered on the Ontario Drug Benefit formulary or ask them to make an EAP request.

If your drug is approved for funding through EAP, your physician will be notified and your pharmacist can process the drug through OHIP+. If your request is denied the drug may still be eligible under your group plan and you will need to provide proof that your application for EAP drug coverage was denied through OHIP+. 

The Group Insurance companies are doing their best to communicate directly with those members who may currently be taking an EAP drug so their physician or nurse practitioner can submit any required paperwork.

Still have questions? For more information go to www.ontario.ca/ohipplus.

Actions to take before the New Year

I was reading an article the other day on ten things you need to do before Dec. 31st Here is the short list:
  1. Take TFSA Withdrawals - If you withdraw funds from a TFSA, an equivalent amount of TFSA contribution room will be reinstated in the following calendar year, assuming the withdrawal was not made to correct an over contribution.
  2. Contribute to an RESP - December 31st is the deadline for 2017. Would you like more information?
  3. Charitable donations - contribute now for the 2017 tax year. The first time Super Credit ends Dec. 31, 2017.
  4. Postpone any ETF or Mutual Fund purchases until January if the investments are in Taxable Accounts.
  5. Review your income and expenses - defer income to next year and pay expenses this year to reduce your taxable income.
  6. Review all potential tax breaks.
  7. Collect all of your medical expenses. If you have a PHSP or HSA submit your expenses now.
  8. Convert Your RRSP to a RRIF by Age 71 - If you turned age 71 in 2017, you have until December 31 to make any final contributions to your RRSP before converting it into a RRIF or registered annuity.
  9. Income Splitting - If your private corporation has other shareholders, such as your spouse, partner, or other adult relatives as shareholders, consider whether it makes sense to pay additional dividends to family members who are in lower tax brackets in 2017 to maximize any income sprinkling opportunities before any proposed federal rules could increase the tax rate on such income commencing in 2018.
  10. Book an appointment with your Financial Advisor - You can book a call with me if you are not currently working with one. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

OHIP Plus - how it will effect you



OHIP Plus takes effect Jan. 1, 2018. 

This is the Ontario government plan to offer 4,400 drug products free for anyone age 24 years or younger.  

You don't need to enroll; all you need is an Ontario health card number and an eligible prescription. When you take your prescription into your pharmacy to be filled (or if you call in a renewal), in most cases it will be at no charge for "children".  

Not all drugs are on the "free" list.  You can check with your pharmacist or click here to search for the drugs that are covered, as well as other information.  Note - if the drug you are interested is not on the list, your pharmacist should have information on how to get it approved for coverage.  If you are on a group plan and your child is covered (under 21 or under 25 and still a student), the group plan should still pay for the drugs. 
   
Please pass this information on to anyone you know with children. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

2017 TIFF Movies & the Business Lessons Learned



As many of you know, I go to TIFF every year and see 20 or so movies. This year, it seemed that the common theme in the movies that I saw was “change” – both actual physical change as well as social change. 

In business, change is a constant.  In my business, there are many external changes that I need to be aware of – changes to the laws, changes in technology, the way clients want to be communicated with and the products that are available.

Back to the movies.

Let’s start with “physical change”.  I saw the movie “Kodachrome”, a story about the relationship between a father and son. The father, a famous photographer who shoots only on film, approaches his son, a record producer, to take a road trip to Parsons, Kansas to develop his last rolls of Kodachrome film before the last developing lab closes.  FYI – this movie was shot on film (versus most are now shot digitally).  Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose or the English version of the proverb - the more things change, the more they stay the same.   Perhaps the best scene was towards the end of the movie, when all the photographers who gathered in Parsons, stand to applaud the dying famous photographer.



Contrast this with a film one of my friends saw – “High Fantasy” shot entirely on iPhones, supposedly by the actors in the movie. This movie is by the award-winning South African director, Jenna Bass.  Quite a contrast in technology between the “old” film video cameras and an iPhone.

And in the middle of these two movies was “Jane”, a biography of Jane Goodall that integrates incredible 50 year old National Geographic 16mm archival footage, shot by Hugo van Lawick, with new digital footage shot by Brett Morgen. This movie tells the story of Jane Goodall and the chimpanzees in Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park. This film discusses the development of this project that started out studying chimpanzee behavior in the wild to help understand human behavior and now is involved in raising awareness, protecting and expanding the forests in Africa to protect the wildlife.  Their mission statement is “Protecting wildlife, empowering people.” www.janegoodall.ca I guess this movie was not just about the “physical changes” but also change in knowledge and society attitudes.

Many of the movies discussed social change.  I saw “Novitiate” A coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of Vatican II and the massive reforms to the Catholic Church that took place between 1962 and 1965. It was interesting to watch the members of the order adapt (or not) to these changes.  For those of you looking for a review of Vatican II, check out the Wikipedia article.  This movie documented what happens when social change is sudden and you need to adapt or give up your dream. 
Another movie that I saw that integrated social and technological change was “Silas”. This movie profiled the life of Liberian activist Silas Siakor, a tireless crusader against illegal logging and a symbol of resistance for a new generation against the backdrop of a corrupt, democratically elected government.  The technology?  A phone app – TIMBY ( www.timby.org/  ) that enables ordinary citizens to safely record and submit examples of illegal logging to a central group who can use this “proof” to force change.  This app is now being used in other parts of the world to record and report other illegal activities.

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women reveals how a trio of brilliant thinkers embraced an unconventional lifestyle (menage a trois) and gave birth to an icon of female power – Wonder Woman.  Their lifestyle, that was offside in the 1920’s has now become main stream (at least in the Western world), even if it is still not common place. The character of Wonder Woman has generated almost as much controversy as the lifestyle of Professor Marston. 

Social change (or not) was a primary theme in the movie “Sweet Country an outback western inspired by real events in 1929. This is a story of personal conviction and settler justice set in the stark panoramas of Australia's Northern Territory. It discusses the different justice for Aboriginals and “white” men.  This is in stark contrast to the start of every film at TIFF this year that began with the TIFF person introducing the film starting by thanking the local tribes for “hosting TIFF on their lands”.

The changes in my business have been steady. I now routinely complete life insurance applications online while talking to my clients by telephone or “Skype”. I have access to a much broader product offering than when I started in the business in 2001. I also conduct my business very differently with a lot more online processes and fewer face to face and snail mail exchanges than ever before.
So how do you incorporate “change” in your life and business?  Even carrying around a Smart Phone changes much of what we do on a daily basis.  If you want to chat about change (or any other subject), give me a call or send me an email.


TIFF 2017 Full List of Award Winners
TIFF Full List of all PAST Award Winners

Full List of my 2017 TIFF Movies (in alphabetical order)
1.       Azmaish: A Journey through the Subcontinent - Pakistani director Sabiha Sumar and Indian actor Kalki Koechlin take an inspiring and stunning transnational journey through India and Pakistan, uncovering the common humanity beyond the divisive political rhetoric.
2.       The Captain - Director Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler’s Wife, RED, Insurgent) returned to his native Germany to make this stunning black-and-white war movie, which follows a young German deserter as he tries to survive in the deadly final days of the Third Reich.
3.       A Ciamra - Jonas Carpignano’s coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old boy in a Romani community in southern Italy who is eager to prove he can be a man and is thrust into adulthood when his brother goes missing.
4.       Darkest Hour - Gary Oldman steps into the imposing persona of Winston Churchill in this period drama from director Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement), set in the early years of World War II.
5.       The Death of Stalin - Armando Iannucci (Veep) directs Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, and Andrea Riseborough in this acerbic send-up of the Soviet dictator and the bootlick Ministers who vie for power after his sudden demise
6.       Downsizing - Matt Damon headlines a cast that includes Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Laura Dern, Jason Sudeikis, Alec Baldwin, and Neil Patrick Harris in Alexander Payne’s sci-fi social satire about a man who chooses to shrink himself (literally) to simplify his life.
7.       Hochelaga, Terre des Ames - Mohawk archaeologist Baptiste Asigny engages in a search for his ancestors following a tragic terrain slump in the Percival Molson Stadium, in François Girard’s multifaceted portrait of Montreal’s rich history.
8.       Jane - Academy Award–nominated director Brett Morgen (On the Ropes) reconstitutes 50-year-old National Geographic footage into a poetic look at primatologist Jane Goodall, set to a magnificent score by Philip Glass.
9.       Kodachrome - Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Olsen, and Ed Harris star in this touching road movie that doubles as an elegy for analog in the digital age.
10.   Looking for Oum Kulthum - Shirin Neshat’s movie-within-a-movie about an ambitious Persian director’s attempts to film the life and legacy of legendary Egyptian singer Oum Kulthum.
11.   Professor Marston & the Wonder Women - Luke Evans (High-Rise, Beauty and the Beast), Rebecca Hall (Christine), and Bella Heathcote (Fifty Shades Darker) star in this biopic of William Moulton Marston, the American psychologist who put his progressive ideals about female liberation into practice by creating the DC superhero Wonder Woman and living in an "extended relationship" with his wife and another woman.
12.   Novitiate - Oscar winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) oversees a bevy of up-and-coming female actors in this drama about aspiring nuns at an isolated Catholic school in 1964, who are forced to re-examine their faith and their calling in light of the liberal reforms of Vatican II.
13.   Number One - In this whip-smart drama about corporate sexism, top French star Emmanuelle Devos plays a high-ranking female executive who is forced to consider her options and marshal her forces when she realizes that the glass ceiling is fast approaching.
14.   Short Cuts – A number of short movies
15.   Silas - Anjali Nayar and Hawa Essuman profile the life of Liberian activist Silas Siakor, a tireless crusader against illegal logging and a symbol of resistance for a new generation.
16.   The Square - Swedish provocateur Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure) took home the Palme d’Or at Cannes for this no-holds-barred satire of the postmodern art world, about a self-important curator whose attempts to mount an ambitious exhibition go hilariously awry.
17.   Sweet Country - Accused of murder, an Aboriginal stockman and his wife try to stay ahead of a fervent posse in the harsh outback of the Northern Territory, in this period drama from acclaimed Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton (Samson & Delilah).
18.   The Third Murder  - Festival favourite Hirokazu Kore-eda (Still Walking, Nobody Knows) takes a fascinating left turn with this intricate murder mystery, about a defense attorney who believes that his client — the self-confessed killer of a wealthy industrialist — is the fall guy for a sinister conspiracy.
19.   Unicorn Store - Brie Larson stars in her directorial debut about a dreamer reluctant to abandon her childish wonder who is offered the most magical gift she can imagine, with Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, and Bradley Whitford.
20.   Victoria & Abdul - Acclaimed British auteur Stephen Frears reunites with his Philomena star, Academy Award winner Judi Dench, in this charming dramedy chronicling the friendship between Queen Victoria and a decades-younger Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.