What is the interplay between my will and designations I make in registered savings plans?

Does assigning a beneficiary on RRSP & TFSA accounts affect the payout of my will?



Bella Coola, BC

The short answer to your second question is no. When you designate a beneficiary in an investment account — like an RRSP or TFSA — the person you named gets that asset when you die. The investment account is not considered part of your estate, in this instance. The executor’s responsibility is to carry out the instructions in your will. And those beneficiary designations aren’t included.

(Note that where a spouse or child seeks to vary a will, then a court can consider any beneficiary designations in determining whether the will adequately provides for the spouse or child — although the court cannot vary those designations.)

There are also some tax issues to be aware of. For example, if you name someone other than your spouse as a beneficiary of your RRSP, the assets in your account will pass to that person. However, your estate will be liable for the income tax on the assets included as income in your final return. 

These are important decisions. It’s a good idea to speak to an estate planner or tax professional for help.  

Amy Mortimore, KC

Amy Mortimore, KC

Clark Wilson LLP
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in September 2023

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