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Tax & Estate

Preparing for the inevitable

Over the past two decades, the babyboomer generation has been through a lot together. First, it was the wedding phase where we'd be going to a friend's wedding nearly every month. Then, a few years later, it was the having-kids phase, where baby showers were almost as frequent. Now, unfortunately, I am starting to see another trend - the funeral phase where increasingly we are saying goodbye to our parents. Both my husband and I have had work friends recently go through the pain of losing a parent.

In addition to the grief and loss you will experience, there are many financial issues that you will need to take care of when your parents pass away.

To make the necessary and immediate decisions somewhat easier, here are some things you could do now to be better prepared for the dreaded event:

  1. Talk to your parents about their Will and Power of Attorney. If they don't have a Will, encourage them to see a lawyer about having one prepared. A Will helps you control what happens to your estate instead of the government getting involved and setting out who gets what. Without a Will there will also likely be delays and added expenses to sorting our your parent's estate. A Power of Attorney allows someone they name to make financial, and, depending on your province, possibly healthcare decisions for them if they are not capable.
  2. Make sure you know where all their key documents are, including the Will, Power of Attorney, bank account information, insurance information, investment account statements, contacts for their professional advisors, real estate documents, safety deposit box locations and contents etc.
  3. Talk about their funeral wishes. Some people don't care what happens after they are gone, but others may want to decide every detail down to what they will wear and the music that will be played. Do they know where they want to be buried? Do they want to be cremated? Is there a family plot or traditional resting place for your other family members?

These may be tough issues to discuss with your parents, but it will help ease some of the logistical nightmare as you go through your emotional nightmare. And, by the way there's one more to-do now: Tell them that you love them...before it's too late.

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