The balance in an RRSP or a RRIF is fully taxable to the Canadian taxpayer on death. Some income tax planning is possible for an RRSP by designating a spouse as the RRSP beneficiary in the RRSP account, not a will effectively rolling the RRPS to the spouse. In the case where the spouse is designated as the beneficiary the proceeds paid to the spouse constitute a refund of RRSP premiums and can be fully transferred into the spouse’s RRSP. For a RRIF a spouse can be designated as a secondary annuitant and upon death the regular payments will be received by and taxable to the surviving spouse.
"This article provides information of a general nature only. It is only current at the posting date. It is not updated and it may no longer be current. It does not provide legal advice nor can it or should it be relied upon. All tax situations are specific to their facts and will differ from the situations in the articles. If you have specific legal questions you should consult a lawyer."