I have been in practice for more than 33 years now, and in all those years, my feeling is that this year was one of the toughest. We lost many outstanding artists and athletes. World politics are changing, and will continue to in 2017.
Closer to home, the real estate market appeared to peak in 2016, and although forecasts for the next year are negative, nobody can really be sure how things will go.
With that said, here are some things to watch for this year, in my humble opinion:
I have not yet seen the updated pension figures for 2017. Normally announced in December, it appears the figures have not yet been released.
The present maximum CPP benefit is $1,092.50, and I expect it will rise to an amount over $1,100.00.
I am sure we will find out shortly. The same will apply for the OAS benefit, and likely for the Guaranteed Income supplement as well. The “enhanced” CPP, agreed to earlier this year, does not come into effect for a long time yet.
Real Estate Title planning
In B.C., real-estate title disputes have been litigated for years, and the potential is there for even more in 2017.
There are two types of property ownership the law recognizes. Our land registration system, however, only deals with one type, and that causes confusion.
The law recognizes legal ownership, which is also what our land registration system shows (when you look at a copy of a title to land). The law also recognizes beneficial ownership which generally arises from the contribution(s) a person (whether a registered owner or not) makes to the property.
For example, a married couple may live in a house where title is registered in the husband’s name only. But the wife may make the mortgage payments. She may periodically clean the property.
If the marriage were to end, the wife may choose to claim an interest in the property. The law in this situation likely will recognize a beneficial interest she has in the property.
Over the years, in Estate planning, property owners have considered transferring their titles to various family members (typically) so that their properties do not fall into their Estates on their death. That avoids the exposure to Probate fees as well as other expenses and “inconveniences.”
As real-estate prices have climbed over the past 20-plus years, these costs and capital gains (in some instances, depending on the types of assets owned) have become significant, activating various forms of planning.
In my opinion, what needs to be done is title planning at the time the property is purchased. Years later, “planning” is more likely cleaning up some kind of mess or potential mess.
In 2016, CRA imposed the requirement of reporting any title transfers of principal residences (sale or otherwise). How they will be handled from a tax perspective remains to be seen.
Regardless what happens with B.C. real-estate values in 2017, we have evolved into an environment in which title planning is essential, whether any given property is being purchased for investment or as a residence.
Transitional Care – failure to adapt to our aging population?
This problem is one of elderly hospital patients, instead of being transferred to care facilities, waiting in acute care beds. There is across the country a shortage of care facility beds. It is not a new problem.
However, the problem has worsened because the numbers of such patients have risen dramatically in the last few years. Beds which should be occupied by acute care patients are occupied by, for example, dementia patients.
That causes increased wait times for persons needing surgery and other hospital treatments.
The Globe & Mail recently published an article about one such individual, who waited six months in a Halifax hospital before a bed came available in a local care facility.
It appears as though families across the country will have to lobby their MPs (and MLAs presumably), and otherwise make their voices heard in an effort to expand home care and increase the availability of care facility beds.
These are three of what will surely be several issues we will face in 2017. May we all be up to the challenges.
A healthy, happy new year to all.
This ad ran in the Richmond News on December 28, 2016.