Successor subscriber on a Manulife Segregated Fund RESP contract

Wealth Transfer Strategy 10

The introduction of the Manulife Segregated Fund Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)¹ created a new opportunity to help fund a child’s post-secondary education. In addition to the unique protective features that a Manulife Segregated Fund RESP offers, including death benefit and maturity guarantees, there’s an additional unique benefit now available.

Naming a successor subscriber in a will

Traditionally, if a subscriber wants a registered education savings plan to continue in the event of the subscriber’s death, a successor subscriber can be appointed through provisions in a will. On the death of the subscriber, or the last surviving subscriber in the case of a joint subscriber plan, the RESP becomes an asset of the deceased subscriber’s estate and is subject to the terms of the subscriber’s will.

It’s important to note that with a mutual fund RESP, you can’t name a successor subscriber as part of the plan. So, depending on what direction, if any, is provided in your will, the estate may be in a position that it must withdraw the contributions and distribute them to the estate heirs (any government grants and incentives would have to be repaid), or the estate may be directed to appoint a new subscriber for the plan. Nonetheless, the failure to have your will properly updated may lead to unintended consequences with respect to your RESP investment.

Joint subscriber option

An individual and a current or former spouse² may be joint subscribers of an RESP. ³ Where there are joint subscribers, in the event that one of the subscribers passes away, the surviving current or former spouse will become the sole subscriber and the RESP will continue.4 In the event that the sole surviving subscriber passes away, the RESP will become a part of the deceased’s estate unless a successor subscriber is named.5

Designation of a successor subscriber with a Manulife Segregated Fund RESP

Subject to any policy restrictions, you may appoint a successor subscriber as part of a Manulife Segregated Fund RESP.6 While a joint subscriber must be the subscriber’s current or former spouse, a successor subscriber can be anyone. This option applies to both individual and family RESP plans. By naming a successor subscriber, on the death of the last surviving subscriber, the contract will continue, and the appointed successor subscriber will become the subscriber and annuitant. A death benefit won’t be paid until the death of the subscribers and the successor subscriber.7

Advantages of naming a successor subscriber with a Manulife Segregated Fund RESP

There are distinct advantages to naming a successor subscriber with a Manulife Segregated Fund RESP using the RESP Successor Subscriber Contract Amendment form (advisor login required):

  • bypass the estate – By appointing a successor subscriber as a part of a Manulife Segregated Fund RESP, an individual will automatically become the new subscriber under the plan should the original subscribers pass away. The value of the RESP contract won’t form part of the deceased’s estate and will pass quickly and privately8 to the successor subscriber without legal, estate administration, or probate fees.
  • contract continuation – By designating a successor subscriber, you can make sure that the RESP contract continues without disruption while maintaining the contractual benefits. Furthermore, any accumulated investment income and government grants and incentives will remain intact.
  • minimize administration – Naming a successor subscriber directly on the RESP contract reduces the administrative burden on the legal representative of your estate.

Ideal candidates

Designating a successor subscriber on your Manulife Segregated Fund RESP is best suited for those:

  • looking to have their Manulife Segregated Fund RESP continue after their death
  • who want to minimize legal, estate administration, or probate fees while reducing the administrative burden on their estate’s legal representative.

Take action

Take advantage of the successor subscriber Manulife Segregated Fund RESP option:

1 All references to the Manulife Segregated Fund RESP refer to the Manulife Segregated Fund Education Savings Plan (ESP) contract. 2 The term spouse includes common-law partner as defined by the Income Tax Act (Canada).  3 In the case of separation or divorce, the Income Tax Act (Canada) doesn’t require the assets held in an RESP to be divided between the parties. Consequently, a spouse and former spouse can continue to be joint subscribers of an RESP. Individuals who are already divorced are now also permitted to enter into a contract. 4 In Quebec, on the death of either subscriber, the subscriber’s share will pass to the estate. 5 See “RESPs—no longer just for kids,” which speaks to a strategy that uses the joint subscriber option to split income if the RESP beneficiary decides not to attend a post-secondary institution. 6 In Quebec, the successor subscriber option is only available on single subscriber plans. 7 In a case where the successor subscriber predeceases the subscribers, the death benefit will be paid to the contract beneficiary on the death of the last surviving subscriber. Legislation requires that the RESP be the beneficiary of the contract. On the death of the last surviving annuitant, the RESP receives the death benefit. 8 In Saskatchewan, jointly held property and insurance policies with a named beneficiary are included on the application for probate despite the fact that these assets don’t flow through the estate and aren’t subject to probate. 9 Completing this form will cancel and replace all prior successor subscriber designations.

Any amount that is allocated to a segregated fund is invested at the risk of the contract holder and may increase or decrease in value.

This communication is published by Manulife Investment Management.  Any commentaries and information contained in this communication are provided as a general source of information only and should not be considered personal investment, tax, accounting or legal advice and should not be relied upon in that regard. Professional advisors should be consulted prior to acting based on the information contained in this communication to ensure that any action taken with respect to this information is appropriate to their specific situation. Facts and data provided by Manulife Investment Management and other sources are believed to be reliable as at the date of publication. 

Certain statements contained in this communication are based, in whole or in part, on information provided by third parties and Manulife Investment Management has taken reasonable steps to ensure their accuracy but can’t be held liable for such information being inaccurate. Market conditions may change which may impact the information contained in this document. 

You may not modify, copy, reproduce, publish, upload, post, transmit, distribute, or commercially exploit in any way any content included in this communication. Unauthorized downloading, re-transmission, storage in any medium, copying, redistribution, or republication for any purpose is strictly prohibited without the written permission of Manulife Investment Management.  

The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company is the issuer of guaranteed insurance contracts, annuities and insurance contracts containing Manulife segregated funds.

Manulife Investment Management is a trade name of Manulife Investment Management Limited and The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company.

Manulife, Manulife Investment Management, the Stylized M Design, and Manulife Investment Management & Stylized M Design are trademarks of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and are used by it, and by its affiliates under license.

MK2875E 06/23 

Tax, Retirement & Estate Planning Services Team

Tax, Retirement & Estate Planning Services Team

Manulife Investment Management

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