Moving to Canada with Trusts, IRAs and Real estate issues


I have helped hundreds of people successfully navigate from the US to Canada. If you're thinking of moving or retiring to Canada contact me today to chat about your plans.

I can be reached via email at, by phone at 250-661-9417 or through my contact page here.

I look forward to speaking to you soon.

Phil Hogan, CPA, CA, CPA (CO)
Cross-Border Tax and Investment Specialist


Hi Phil,

I am searching for a financial planner to give us Cross Border (USA/Canada) Financial and Tax advice.  We will need to file taxes in both countries next year, at least that is my understanding, so we will need tax prep help as well. Here is a bit about our situation.

I am dual citizen (by descent, never lived in Canada), age 68, semi-retired but do a few real estate transactions a year as a Colorado Real Estate Broker (so essentially self-employed). My husband just got PR card, he’s age 62, works at a local hospital as a  Therapist.  He hopes to make it to full age for Social Security benefits, when he is 66 (?).  I think I need to go to 67 to get full SS benefits.  We both have enough years but want to delay collecting as long as possible to maximize our SS benefit. We had planned to move to Canada sooner than later, but now my husband wants to continue working at our local hospital a bit longer to maximize SS. But he does want to be in Canada enough time to be eligible for citizenship in 4.5 years from now.  It’ll be tight.

We own a home in Colorado (in a Trust account), it is paid off minus a HELOC.
We both have IRAs, both Rollover and Roth.  Jim has 401b or something like that as well as Rollover and Roth.

We have a townhome in Calgary that we just purchased in April 2022, it has a mortgage. We don’t anticipate using it much, might find a “roommate” so we can occasionally use it….if we can stomach being landlords again (albeit we think that it would purposely be a “roommate” situation to hopefully give us more flexibility on multiple fronts, a place to stay and avoid landlord/tenant rules and regulations.)

Oh, not that this is your trade, I’m wondering about estate planning only for our Calgary townhome.  Our Trust here in Colorado can’t add the Calgary townhome to our Trust/Will so we need something in place, but I’m thinking this can be done with a pre-fab will in Canada and a codicil to our Trust to recognize the Calgary property.  I don’t know if you or a financial planner will have an opinion on this as a good idea or needs some more thought.

This is a start.  Let me know what else you may need to help us identify a cross border financial planner / tax advisor.



Thanks for the email. You have quite a bit going on here so an email likely won’t suffice. If you want to book a longer cross-border wealth management consultation please let me know and I would be more than happy to try and arrange something. In the meantime let me see if I can provide some general insights to your questions below:

Estate planning trusts are used much more in the US than they are used in Canada. Setting up a new trust for the Calgary property is certainly an option, however unless it provides for some significant benefit it’s likely not worth the efforts and costs of setting up the trust and additional annual filings.

Not only that, but the US trust will likely become a Canadian resident trust once you both become Canadian tax residents, and therefore would require additional Canadian trust filings. The trusts can be used to help shelter assets from US estate tax, however considering how high the US estate tax exemption is currently it likely won’t provide any additional protection from future estate taxes.

Holding assets in trust can help shelter the assets from Canadian probate fees, but Provincial probate fees are not terribly high and assuming your assets will be transfer to each other respectively when either of you pass you have a long-time before you’ll need to worry about probate costs. That being said, we work with some good cross-border tax and estate planner lawyers that you can chat with about options.

In most cases I suggest clients move all their investments up to Canada if the move up North is permanent. This will allow you to properly plan for investment and taxes all in one place. There may be an option to convert some of the regular IRA to a ROTH IRA before moving to Canada to ensure the ROTH can eventually be withdrawn tax free both for Canadian and US purposes. Once you enter Canada you’ll also have to file special treaty elections for the ROTH IRA with the Canadian government.

There are various planning opportunities to discuss regarding the move to Canada. I would suggest you read the following articles on planning before moving to Canada to see if any of these items are applicable to you. Also, as you likely know you’ll be require to file both Canadian and US income tax returns when you enter Canada as the US will continue to require you to file US tax returns by virtue of your US Citizenship.

I hope the information above helps and let me know if you would like me to refer you to a good cross-border tax lawyer.




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