Pop Culture and the Trust by Bonnie L. Altro

While reading a recent edition of O Magazine, I came across Suze Orman’s monthly column. For those who don’t know, Ms. Orman is a financial expert and has written many books on financial prosperity. She was a frequent guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and now has her own show on Oprah’s network. The column addressed how to be smart about your assets by protecting your estate from unnecessary costs and delays when you pass away. And what was her suggestion to achieve this peace of mind? A trust.

For most Canadians, owning property in a trust is a new concept. They have never thought of holding property this way, and when they hear about all of the benefits, they have a number of reactions. Some love the idea and start to question why their Canadian estates aren’t organized in the way we suggest that their U.S. estate be arranged. Some are less enamored by the concept of a trust and worry that the trust will cause complications in connection with the purchase or may scare off the seller. I assure them that this won’t be the case. I explain that using a trust to hold U.S. assets is not something we recommend to solely to Canadians, but that this is the recommended approach for Americans as well. And to back me up on this, like I do with so many things, I quote Oprah. Ok, maybe in this case, it is not Oprah directly, but Oprah’s trusted advisor, Suze Orman. Read the rest of this entry »

How Should Canadian Snowbirds Take Title to Arizona Real Estate? It Depends!

Canadians have long sought to escape harsh winters by spending time in the American Sunbelt. In recent years, with the dollar near parity, the depressed US real estate values, and a relatively strong Canadian economy, Snowbirds have shown stronger interest than ever in purchasing that winter get-away. The perennial question remains, however: what is the best way to own US real estate?

As usual, the answer is rarely straightforward. Each prospective buyer has a unique set of facts and different objectives to consider. Furthermore, the US real property laws, probate and incapacity are all governed at the State level, which means that the same strategy may not be appropriate in different States. This article focuses on Arizona law, and describes some of the options available to Canadian buyers of personal use properties, with a consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of each. Read the rest of this entry »

Ask the Experts Radio Show – April 14, 2012

On the April episode of Ask the Experts on Newstalk1010, Managing Partner David A. Altro and Chief Operating Officer Matt Altro speak about the many issues that Canadians need to be aware of when considering buying property in the U.S. and moving to the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »

Life Insurance Tax Free? Not so Fast!


In Canada, life insurance is often used as an effective estate planning strategy to ensure family protection, estate preservation and investment solutions. Although these advantages are indisputable, many Canadians with U.S. assets and U.S. citizens living in Canada may be shocked to learn that owning life insurance may expose their estates to U.S. estate tax upon their death. Read the rest of this entry »