Death is not the end (of your RESP)

How your RESP beneficiary can reap the benefits of crafty financial planning.



Online only.


The Globe‘s Tim Cestnick addresses a thorny financial planning question: What happens to an RESP if the subscriber (that is, the person who set it up) dies before the money is used?

Unlike an RRSP, which is transferred to a named beneficiary upon the death of the original contributor, an RESP becomes part of the subscriber’s estate — and therefore dealt with by the estate executor.

Cestnick recommends that to avoid any confusion, you simply state clearly in your will what you want to do with the RESP. He outlines a few ideas tailored to specific situations, but the most novel idea involves setting up a testamentary trust as the subscriber after your death, with the same beneficiary named, and sufficient assets to grow the trust. Which means, technically, that you can keep contributing from beyond the grave.

6 comments on “Death is not the end (of your RESP)

  1. Maybe it would be better to specify the fact that, when a beneficiary has been named for an RRSP, plan's assets won't be part of the deceased's estates: the assets are transferred directly to the named beneficiary. This won't happen with an RESP: RESP assets do fall into the subscriber’s estate upon the death despite the fact that a beneficiary is named on the RESP.


    • Why don't RESP's go directly to the beneficiary? Just curious as my dad passed away and my sister is trying to argue that the money from the RESP's belongs to her children(the named beneficiaries).


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