The province of Ontario is rolling out a number of changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) effective today. If you have family members who rely on this important program, below are some items that you should know about.
Prior to September 1, 2017, to qualify for support from ODSP, an individual could not exceed the $5,000 asset limit ($7,500 per couple) and $6,000 annual limit on gifts and voluntary payments, in place under the ODSP legislation. Some assets, including but not limited to, items related to the ODSP recipient’s disability, a principal residence, a vehicle (and potentially a second vehicle under certain conditions), and those held for the ODSP recipient in a completely discretionary trust under the legal ownership and control of a trustee or trustees, were, and continue to be, considered exempt, with their values not counting toward the recipient’s asset limit.
As of September 1, 2017, these limits have changed. ODSP recipients may now have $40,000 in non-exempt assets ($50,000 per couple) and can receive $10,000 per year in cash gifts or other voluntary payments. Furthermore, a gift or voluntary payment received for the purposes of purchasing a principal residence, a vehicle or to pay the first and last month’s rent necessary to secure housing for an ODSP recipient, will not count towards the calculation of a recipient’s income in the year such income is received.
Being aware of these limits and of the estate planning tools available to clients who wish to leave a portion or the whole of their estate to someone receiving ODSP support (ie. Henson trusts), or who receive ODSP support and want to remain eligible to receive such support, is an important part of the Wills, Estates, Trusts and Charities Law Group’s practice.
Please contact us for assistance with your estate planning needs – we are here to help.