"Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements."
~ Napoleon Hill

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Now That's Different

Never underestimate the power of the internet, they say.

And apparently they're right. As I just received this link to a Bank of Montreal youtube video promoting the RDSP. Admittedly, it's a little dry but check it out.

And a quick perusal around youtube found me this second video.

Anyone care to meet Jack Styan, the Preisdent of PLAN?

With thanks to Dorothy Kitchen, for the link to the first video

Monday, February 23, 2009

RDSP Chit Chat

PLAN should at least be happy to see that the RDSP seems to be generating a lot more on-line interest, the number of Google searches seem to be increasing every day.

So now that the RDSP is finally a viable option for the disabled community in Nova Scotia, I thought I would pass on a few more interesting tidbits.

  • We already know that the Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank are on board. It is hoped that CIBC will be next, hopefully by the end of February.

  • In regard to the necessity of the beneficiary of a RDSP being approved for the Disability Tax Credit, remember that you can set up the RDSP prior to being approved for the Disability Tax Credit, provided that you become approved for the DTC in the same year that you set up the RDSP.

  • Lest we forget yearly Income Tax returns must be filed in order to leverage the government Bond and Grant. If the beneficiary is 19 years of age or over, it is their Income Tax returns that must be filed. If they are under the age of 19, it is the family's Income Tax Returns which will decide how money monies the federal government will pay the RDSP.
    But that doesn't meant that you shouldn't go ahead and set up your RDSP now. Go ahead and then once your Income Tax return is filed sometime in the next few months, that will leverage any government monies you are entitled to. Just remember, you must continue to file your Income Tax returns in order to be eligible for the Grant and Bond on a yearly basis.

  • It's also important to realize (and I must confess that I hadn't) that you can go ahead and open a RDSP without putting any money in. That's right, a zero dollar account. Which (depending on the beneficiary's or their family's income) could still leverage the annual government bond of $1,000. You read that right, open a RDSP without putting a penny in and (depending on your income) the government may still give you free money every year.

  • One very important point - if you open a RDSP on behalf of your disabled child who is under the age of majority, you, as the parent can continue as holder of the plan after the beneficiary reaches the age of majority. At which time, the beneficiary may be added to the RDSP as a joint holder if they so wish.

    As opposed to the situation when a RDSP is opened for a disabled adult, in which case, the beneficiary is the only one qualified to be a holder of the plan. Which gets you into issues of the competency of the beneficiary.

    Because remember that as a parent of disabled adult, you have absolutely no legal say or input into that adult's life. Unless of course you have guardianship. And although you may still want to seriously consider guardianship for other purposes, at least if the RDSP is opened while the beneficiary is still a minor child, you won't have that to worry about.

    So if you've been thinking of opening a RDSP for your minor child, you might want to seriously consider doing it now and not waiting until they become an adult. Not only will waiting cost you years of potential government money but you might well find yourself in a situation where it is very difficult to be able to even open the RDSP.

    Because if your adult child is not considered contractually competent to open a RDSP, then you, as as their parent, may only open a RDSP on their behalf if the plan is opened as a result of a transfer from another RDSP under which the disabled adult was named as a holder; or if you, as the parent, are legally authorized to act on behalf of the beneficiary (meaning you have guardianship).

  • On a closing note, I find that a lot of people tend to be confused about some of the details of how a RDSP works, in particular the Canada Disabilty Savings Grant and the Canada Disabiltiy Savings Bond. There also seems to be some confusion around the fact that when any money is withdrawn from the RDSP, any government grants and bonds received in the previous ten years must be repaid to the government.

    Oh, the things I do for you. This page gives a fairly clear explanation of the Canada Disability Savings Grant and how much of it your RDSP will be eligible for. Likewise, this page for the Canada Disability Bond. And this page should cover off any questions you may have concerning the extension of the deadline for 2008. Any additional outstanding questions, hopefully, will be answered here.

    But if you read all that and find that you're still stuck, drop a comment or post me an email (just click on the See My Complete Profile link on the top of the sidebar to find the email address) and I will see what I can do.

Happy Planning!

Update: Say it and it shall be so!
CIBC has signed up as the third financial institution to be offering the RDSP to Canadians.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wouldn't Want To Miss That

It would appear that we may have been so pleased with the Nova Scotia government's decision to finally exempt the RDSP as both income and asset that we missed a similar announcement from the Northwest Territories. And that would never do.

So, let's welcome aboard Canada's second Territory. Which, I do believe, just leaves Nunavet. Last to join Confederation, last to the party. Makes sense, I suppose.

But please do hurry up. We need to get this party started.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

All Things Come To Those Who Wait ...

Well, it's about time, eh!

This little tidbit just released today by the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services ~

Contributions to Registered Disability Savings Plans will now be exempted when calculating eligibility for income assistance.
The province is making it easier for families of people with disabilities to save for their loved one's future by allowing them to use Registered Disability Savings Plans while continuing to receive income assistance.

Similar to a Registered Education Savings Plan, the Registered Disability Savings Plan allows families and their children with disabilities to save money, tax-free,
until it's needed.

"Many people worry about what will happen when they're no longer here to provide care for a family member who is disabled," said Community Services Minister Chris d'Entremont. "This will give families peace of mind by allowing them to plan a more financially secure future for their relative."

Community Services will fully exempt the Registered Disability Savings Plan contributions when calculating clients' eligibility for income assistance. Clients will also be able to withdraw funds from the plan without affecting their income assistance payments.

There are no restrictions on who may contribute to a Registered Disability Savings Plan and no annual contribution limit. There is a lifetime maximum of $200,000 per
individual fund. The federal government recently announced that the 2008
contribution year has been extended to March 2, 2009.
So what do we know?
  • The RDSP is currently offered in Nova Scotia by the Bank of Montreal

  • The RDSP will be offered in Nova Scotia by the Royal Bank of Canada on Feb. 16, 2009

  • Any contributions made to a RDSP by March 2, 2009, will be considered as 2008 contributions and thus eligible for the federal government Grant and Bond.

  • The Dept. of Community Services will not treat the Plan itself as an asset for the purposes of determining eligibility for income assistance

  • Withdrawals from the Plan will not be treated as income so as to effect an individual's eligibility for income assistance
Kudos to the Province for coming in line with the rest of the country. Thank you.

And a deep and heartfelt Thank you to all the fine folks at PLAN for their absolutely amazing work around the RDSP. Without this organization and their many, many hours of work (along with volunteers from across the country), Canada would not be the first country in the world to offer the Registered Disability Savings Plan. Nor would we have all ten of our provinces exempting the RDSP in some form.

Who said individuals with disabilities, working in partnership with their family members and others can't make a difference?

Royal Bank ~ Another Financial Institution Offers the RDSP

Following on the heels of the Bank of Montreal, the Royal Bank of Canada has now announced that it will be offering a Registered Disability Savings Product effective February 16th, 2009.

Our good friends at PLAN have announced that with this partnership with Royal Bank, it is estimated that approximately 500,000 Canadians will be eligible to open an RDSP. The mutual goal is to have Canadians aware of how the RDSP will assist people with disabilities in assuring their future financial security.

You can read more details here.

But if you think that's good news, just wait until you see my next post!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another Resource ~ "Legal Rights of Children with Epilepsy"

I just came across what looks like another great resource, which I will be adding to the sidebar (under the Recommended Reads heading), but I wanted to tell you a little about it first.

As much as I am a Canadian through and through (and proud of it), there are days that I do wish I was an American. For the basic reason that the US has done such a great job of setting out their special education law, providing rights to parents and giving teeth to those rights. Unlike Nova Scotia, where we copy of some of the same language (such as the right to an "appropriate education") but leave it to lie flat on the paper. In other words, good luck trying to enforce that right here.

But my cynical moment aside, my surfing through the Internet has netted me another great find today. It's entitled "Legal Rights of Children with Epilepsy in School and Child Care – An Advocate’s Manual".

Written by an American attorney, Leslie Seid Margolis (Managing Attorney at the Maryland Disability Law Center), it starts with the basics about what epilepsy actually is and the different treatments for it, through all the American special education laws (known as IDEA and Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act) which apply to children with epilepsy and other such disabilities and sets out the rights of the child in both the childcare setting and school setting.

Although some chapters are very epilepsy-specific (dealing, for example, with specific issues surrounding special education and students with epilepsy and the administration of emergency anti epileptic medication in schools ) much of it would apply to any child with a disability in the school setting.

The only real drawback I can see is that it is American, meaning it may well make you salivate when you read some of the many protections and processes available to parents and their children with disabilities in the US. So before anybody asks, no, the majority of those protections do not exist here. Or, at least, not in the easily-accessible manner they do there.

Still, as I noted above, we do use a lot of the American wording and I believe the shift is slowly coming to Nova Scotia to start to make "better and legally correct" (as that term is used in the US) IPPs. You know, what they call SMART IPPs (Specific, Measurable, Use Action Words, Realistic and Relevant and Time-limited). Just don't hold your breath. Change can be slow.

Still, all in all, it looks like a great resource. Check it out. When you have a cup pot of coffee and a lot of time.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Your Reading List ~ Tax Planning and RDSP Info

Yes, there are many, many things I would like to post about, including the remaining portion of that human rights and employment discussion.

No, no, I'm sorry, I just can't get to that right now. But, never fear, I have not forgotten.

There's also more to be said on the subject of the RDSP in Nova Scotia (or should I say the lack of the RDSP in Nova Scotia), of course, but that, too, I am afraid, will have to wait for another day.

For now, however, I can point you to what appears to be a very comprehensive article that I stumbled today, entitled "Disabilities, Special Needs and Financial Planning". Although it's dated May, 2008, it covers traditional income tax issues for individuals with disabilities, the RDSP and Henson Trusts, as well as topics like the RESP and life insurance.

Speaking of the RDSP, I also came across a very nice article which seems to cover off most of the details, all in one place.

So. There be your reading list.
Not bad for a Sunday of non-blogging, I think. Wouldn't you agree?

Update: And if you just can't get seem to satisfy your appetite around income tax issues for individuals with disabilities, might I suggest you go back and peruse this set of links from this time last year?

Seeing as how it is that time of year, once again, alas.