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Skiing is physically and mentally stimulating and the views are spectacular, one avid senior skier says.Amber Bracken/The Globe and Mail

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Rosalynn Ruptash was not a skier when she met her husband 13 years ago. “I’m as athletic as a rusty nail,” says the 66-year-old Edmontonian. “I’m also very petrified of heights. I have acrophobia.”

But her future husband was an avid, lifetime skier and she realized she would have to give it a try and let him see for himself that she just couldn’t. That is not how it turned out, though.

Today Ms. Ruptash doesn’t just ski; she’s also president of the Edmonton-based Rocky Mountain Seniors Ski Club.

“You don’t have to be an extreme athlete or even athletic in order to ski,” she says. “You just have to have the courage to give it a try and enjoy being outdoors.”

The sport is physically and mentally stimulating and the views are spectacular, she says, as long as she doesn’t have to look down. The ski club has 885 members, most of them in the Metro Edmonton area. All are 55 or older. The oldest is 97. In summer they cycle and mountain bike but the club’s raison d’etre is hitting the slopes. Dene Moore reports

How this 69-year-old can be tax efficient while supports kids and charity

Well-fixed financially, Annie, 69, would like to give some money to her two adult children “sooner rather than later,” she writes in an e-mail. “Charitable giving would also be of interest,” she adds. Her income of $133,100 a year comes from contract work, withdrawals from a life income fund and Canada Pension Plan benefits. Her B.C. residence is valued at $1-million.

“Like many seniors, I find myself on my own, with a significant portion of assets in RRSPs and facing the looming deadline of my 71st birthday,” Annie writes. At 71, she will have to roll her registered retirement savings plan into a registered retirement income fund and at 72, begin making mandatory minimum withdrawals, which will add to her income taxes.

“I’m interested in tax efficiencies for income structuring because the options like income-sharing are not available to me,” she writes. (Couples can lower the family tax bill by splitting income with spouses.) “I’d also be curious to see how I might be able to help out my two children financially without jeopardizing the assets I may need for future care,” she adds. Her retirement spending goal is $70,000 a year after tax.

In the Globe’s latest Financial Facelift column, Tara Ennevor, a financial planner and associate portfolio manager at RGF Integrated Wealth Management in Vancouver, looks at Annie’s situation.

In case you missed it

Tips for seniors on starting a business later in life

After more than 20 years working in government, including as a Canadian immigration officer with foreign postings, Ellen Yachnin decided to take early retirement in mid-2019 at age 56.

She then spent a year and a half serving on boards, upgrading some skills and spending time with her family, before launching her own immigration consulting firm in February. Ms. Yachnin built the company based on her experience as a diplomat, including skills and knowledge on how to best present a client’s case to Canadian immigration.

“I like giving back to people, helping people. I thought, What do I have to give? My knowledge of immigration,” Ms. Yachnin says, now 58.

With a 16-year-old child, working independently from her Toronto home gives Ms. Yachnin the flexibility she needs. She’s one of a growing number of older Canadians taking the entrepreneurship route in the later stage of life. The Business Development Bank of Canada says entrepreneurship has tripled among people over age 55 since 2000. For a retiree who may have no entrepreneurial experience, launching a business can be a challenge. Kathy Kerr looks at some advice from experts on what to consider.

Advice for seniors on how to downsize their stuff

Over the past few months, Carolann Harding has been helping her mother, Gloria Harding, move from her condo into an assisted living apartment in St. John’s. The experience has uncovered just how much stuff a person can accumulate over a lifetime. “It’s been the process of going through piece by piece, drawer by drawer, box by box, and mom not realizing half the stuff that she had,” she says.

Fortunately, Ms. Harding and her mother were able to go through her accumulated items together, deciding who would get what and what could go. Some are forced to do that difficult task alone in the throes of grief.

“It’s easy to get rid of junk, but the hardest part is going through all the old stuff, finding things from my grandmother when she was a little girl,” says Ms. Harding. “What do you do to honour those memories of your grandparents and your parents and things like Bibles from 1900? That’s the kind of stuff I’m really struggling with. You can get rid of the junk but how do you sort and prioritize the sentimental things?”

The rise of retail and mass production since the end of the Second World War has put more things in the reach of more people than ever before. As a result, baby boomers have a lot of stuff they either need to downsize now, or leave to their heirs to handle it. Dene Moore reports

What else we’re reading

Helping women reduce the pension gap

Janea Dieno, owner and certified financial planner at Brightrock Financial Inc. in Saskatoon, recently met with clients preparing for retirement – a couple in their 50s. While both make the same income of $80,000 a year, the male partner had 70 per cent of their savings in his name – largely on the strength of his workplace pension. The female partner took 11 years away from work to raise kids, Ms. Dieno says, adding that this kind of pension imbalance within a couple is a common scenario.

Most defined-benefit pension plans are based on years of service, she says, so women who take time off for child care are “not only taking a step back from their career growth, but they’re also not contributing to their pensions and retirement [savings].” The gender pension gap in Canada is well-documented, although less headline-grabbing than lower pay and the likelihood of women taking time off to raise children, which are at its roots.

Canadian women with workplace pensions enter retirement with about 30 per cent less money in those plans than their male peers, according to a study Mercer Canada released earlier this year. Women also generally live longer than men, so the money must stretch out. But those heading into retirement need not prepare for a lower quality of life, experts say, as there are several ways financial advisors can help female clients and couples make the best of their pensions. Saira Peesker reports

How not to let fear of running out of money keep you from enjoying your retirement

Retirees spend years relentlessly saving and investing for the time when they stop working. Then they spend their retirement years worrying about running out of money.

A recent study shows 47 per cent of people fear retirement more than illness and poor health, and 40 per cent more than death. While some concern is warranted for those who haven’t saved enough, it should be less so for people whose portfolios show they’re in good financial shape.

For those who are set, it could be time to start spending a little to enjoy life more. It’s time to create a list of things you have dreamed of doing. This AARP story out of the U.S. has some tips about how to live a little in retirement.

‘A remarkable storyteller with a generous spirit’ – sportscaster Brian Williams retires after distinguished five-decade career

Ask Brian Williams about his half-century long broadcasting career and he’ll rifle off player names and memorable moments with specific detail as if they happened yesterday. There was Liz Manley’s skate and the Battle of the Brians at the 1988 Calgary Games. Ian Sunter’s game-winning field goal for the Tiger-Cats at the 1972 Grey Cup in Hamilton. Freestyle skier Alex Bilodeau’s golden performance at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Williams, who recently announced his retirement, covered just about every sport imaginable over his remarkable sportscasting career. The Olympics and the CFL were two of his mainstays as a principal studio anchor and long-time host with CBC and later CTV and TSN. “I could sit here and talk about horse racing, car racing, World Cup skiing, tennis, so many things,” Williams said. “But those two come to mind as I’ve probably done those events more than any other.”

Knowledgeable no matter the sport, Williams also lent his voice to coverage of hockey, Major League Baseball, World Cup soccer and much more. The Canadian Press looks at his career.

Ask Sixty Five

Question: I have been selected as an executor of a friend’s will and just learned that the executor fees are considered income. (The person passed away earlier this year). I am in my 70s and already taking Old Age Security (OAS) and Canadian Pension Plan (CPP). My income is about $45,000 annually, mostly from a pension, and a small part is from an RRIF. The executor fee I would receive, based on the estate, will be about $90,000. How will this affect the CPP and OAS benefits? I am also a beneficiary and will receive about $500,000. Should I not claim the executor fees to avoid the clawbacks and additional taxes? What are my options? Is there a way to spread out the executor fees across more than one year?

We asked tax expert Alexandra Spinner, a partner at Crowe Soberman LLP, Chartered Professional Accountants to respond to this one:

In this reader’s case, the executor fees will be considered as income from employment or an office and will be fully subject to income tax. As the executor of the will, the reader must ensure to withhold and remit an appropriate amount of payroll taxes from the executor fees. As well, they must request that a payroll account be opened for the estate and ensure that the estate prepares a T4 slip to report the amount of executor fees paid (along with the amount of payroll taxes withheld) for the calendar year.

As the executor fees are taxable to the reader, the amount of the executor fees received in a calendar year will be included in the determination of any benefits that are based on the reader’s income. The reader’s CPP income will not be affected by the amount of the executor fees received, however, the reader’s OAS may be subject to a clawback. If the reader is single, they will be subject to the OAS clawback if their net income exceeds $79,845 (for 2021).

Generally, an executor will receive their executor fees near the end of the estate administration process. However, a tax planning point would be to have the reader ask the beneficiaries of the estate if they can take an advance of their executor fees to allow the reader to spread their executor fee income over multiple tax years. For example, if the estate was administered over a period that crossed three calendar years, it may be possible for the reader to receive their executor fees in three $30,000 amounts. If the reader’s net income was $75,000 per calendar year (regular $45,000 income plus their $30,000 executor fees), they may not be subject to any OAS clawback. As well, they would be managing their tax rate on their executor fees in an efficient way.

An executor can choose to refuse to take their executor fees from an estate. The amount that is received from an estate as a beneficiary is not subject to tax. If the reader was the sole beneficiary of the estate, they may refuse their executor fees and receive the money directly from the estate as a beneficiary. However, if there are multiple beneficiaries of the estate, the reader may choose to receive their executor fees, even though the amount received as the fee is taxable, to maximize their net funds received from the estate.

Have a question about money or lifestyle topics for seniors, or want to suggest a story idea for the Sixty Five series? Please email us at and we will find experts and answer your questions in future newsletters.