6 steps to opening a RRIF
1. Review your investment strategy
When you convert your RRSP to a RRIF, it may be a good time to reconsider your investment strategy. For example:
- If you retire early and expect you’ll need income for 20 to 30 years in retirement, you may want to allocate a portion of your RRIF to investments with a higher growth potential over the long term, such as equity mutual funds, ETFs or stocks. However, these investments also have higher risk.
- If security is your main concern after retirement, you may want to put more of your money in guaranteed investments like GICs or fixed income investments like government bonds.
Plan and monitor your RRIF investments carefully. If you lose money investing, it can be difficult to make up these losses if you're no longer working. Learn more about planning for retirement
2. Shop around to compare fees and plans
You can set up a RRIF at most financial institutions, investment firms and insurance companies. Ask:
- What are the fees?
- Are there penalties to change the withdrawal frequency?
- Can you make extra withdrawals at any time?
- What investment options are available?
3. Choose a RRIF and financial institution
You don't have to open the RRIF at the same institution where you hold your RRSP. If you want a variety of investment options and are comfortable making investment decisions, talk to investment firms about opening a self-directed RRIF. If you have a large amount of retirement savings and would like your RRIF to be managed by a professional money manager, ask about a fully managed RRIF.
4. Choose a beneficiary and successor annuitant
Decide who you want to inherit your RRIF savings. If you don’t choose a beneficiary, your RRIF will become part of your estate when you die, and it may be subject to income tax and probate fees.
If you choose your spouse as beneficiary, you can also name them as the "successor annuitant". That means they can take over your RRIF and receive your payments automatically after your death.
5. Plan your withdrawals
You must take out a minimum amount each year. You can choose regular monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual withdrawals.
Make sure you will have cash available when you need it. You want to avoid any penalties for cashing in an investment early or selling investments at a time when they have lost value.
For example, if you have a guaranteed interest RRIF, stagger the terms of your investments. That way, you will have money maturing each year. If you have a self-directed RRIF, hold some investments that are easy to turn into cash like short-term GICs or money market funds.
6. Review and sign the contract
Read all papers carefully. This includes the application form and your RRIF contract. Make sure you understand the fees and rules for withdrawing money from your RRIF.