Taxes, dispositions and probate fees can significantly reduce the size of an estate. You can avoid these fees with careful planning. For married couples, rolling assets to the surviving spouse will not trigger a capital gain or tax on the registered assets. The will may need to be probated, which will incur a charge on a percentage of the assets. However, probate fees on the first death can be avoided if all non-registered assets are owned jointly.
Another way to avoid probate fees is to name beneficiaries of your registered assets and other insurance products. Income taxes will still have to be paid on the registered assets if there is no surviving spouse.
Gifting assets to beneficiaries will also help avoid probate fees. Gifting property such as a family cottage will avoid probate and the capital gains that would accrue from the time the assets were transferred. Also, income generated from a business asset can be attributed to the children who have inherited the asset.