In the business world, estate planning plays a critical, yet often underestimated, role. Estate freezing is a strategic tax tool that is particularly well-suited to family businesses.

Let's explore this concept together and understand why it is fundamental to securing the future of your business.

Defining an estate freeze

By definition, an estate freeze is a tax planning strategy that allows business owners to lock in the value of their assets at the time of its implementation. This approach involves the conversion of the owner's common stock into value-invariant preferred stock.

The common shares, which now represent the future growth of the business, are then transferred or sold to successors. In this way, the current owners retain control of the business while carefully orchestrating the transfer of ownership.

Benefits of estate freezing

Beyond its technical definition, estate freezing is a sound planning strategy that offers several advantages for a smooth and tax-efficient business transition. Its implementation requires expertise in business taxation, so it is essential to consult specialized advisors.

Minimize estate taxes

The primary benefit of estate freezing is the potential reduction in estate taxes. By freezing the value of the assets, any future appreciation of the business will not increase the original owner's tax base. As a result, the tax burden associated with the transfer of the business is based on the frozen value, which is generally much lower than its future value.

Estate planning and security

This technique makes estate planning more predictable and secure. By anticipating tax implications, owners can avoid unforeseen events and family conflicts when transferring the business, ensuring a smooth transition.

Ongoing control and participation

By converting their common shares into preferred shares, owners retain their voting rights and influence over key company decisions. This allows them to continue to guide the company while preparing the next generation to take on progressively greater responsibilities.

Flexibility and customization

Each estate freeze can be customized to meet the specific needs of the business and its family structure. This includes the ability to adjust the terms of the freeze as business objectives or family dynamics change.

Advantage for the next generation

For the next generation or new owners, an estate freeze provides clarity and stability. They acquire common shares that reflect the future value of the business, allowing them to benefit directly from its growth after the freeze.

A case in point

Let's take the example of Mr. Dupont, manager of a company worth 2 million euros. By opting for an estate freeze, he converts his ordinary shares into preference shares, freezing the value of his holding at 2 million euros. He then transfers new common shares to his children.

Ten years later, when the company is worth 5 million euros, the value of the shares for Mr. Dupont's estate remains at 2 million euros, while his children benefit from the company's growth.

This mechanism not only prepares the transition of the business under optimal tax conditions, but also ensures that future growth will benefit the next generation without increasing the estate's tax burden.

Establishing an estate freeze

Establishing an estate freeze requires careful planning and the involvement of specialized professionals. Each step must be carefully planned and executed to ensure a smooth and tax-efficient transition of the business.

Business owners considering an estate freeze are strongly encouraged to consult with experienced tax professionals and business attorneys to guide and structure this important transition.

Valuing assets and reorganizing the company's ownership structure

The process begins with an accurate valuation of the company's assets to determine the "frozen" value. Business valuation experts, such as business attorneys or CPAs and experienced tax professionals, are required to perform a valuation in accordance with current standards.

Next, a reorganization of the ownership structure is required, including the conversion of common stock into preferred stock. This reorganization allows the owner to retain decision-making control while preparing for the transfer of common shares to the next generation.

Amending the articles of incorporation and tax analysis

The legal aspect is paramount. It often involves drafting new articles of incorporation for the company and may require the drafting of shareholder agreements or other legal documents. The intervention of a lawyer specializing in business law is therefore essential to ensure that any changes comply with current legislation and to protect the interests of all parties involved.

The tax implications of this strategy must also be analyzed by a tax advisor to ensure its effectiveness for the current owner and his or her successors. This tax advice may include strategies for minimizing capital gains taxes and effective succession planning.

Need estate planning help?

Estate freezing is an important part of estate planning. It minimizes future tax burdens while preparing for the transition of the business. However, this strategy represents a particularly sophisticated aspect of tax planning, where tax, corporate and matrimonial considerations intersect and intertwine.

Given this complexity and the high stakes involved, it is essential to seek the expertise of specialists in these fields when implementing an estate freeze strategy. Their intervention will not only ensure the consistency and effectiveness of the chosen approach, but also tailor it to the specific needs of each situation.

At T2inc.ca, we have extensive tax and accounting expertise. However, we specialize in the preparation of Canadian corporate tax returns.

Frédéric Roy-Gobeil


As President of T2inc.ca and an entrepreneur at heart, I have founded many start-ups such as delve Labs and T2inc.ca. A former tax specialist at Ernst & Young, I am also a member of the Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés CPA and have a master's degree in taxation from the Université de Sherbrooke. With a passion for the world of entrepreneurship and the growth mindset, I have authored numerous articles and videos on the industry and the business world, as well as on accounting, taxation, financial statements and financial independence.

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