To every life season plan for change

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We will help you plan your financial needs over the course of your lifetime. Your most valuable asset is your healthy ability to earn an income. By helping you select the right combination of life and disability insurance protection and wise investments, we can you achieve financial success. When you have a mortgage or other large loan, term life insurance or critical illness insurance offers cost-effective ways to cover your outstanding debt if you die or suffer critical illness.

Family Stage

• With children, your needs change –and it’s wise to review your financial security plan. RESPs offer a good vehicle to plan for your children’s educative future, and a low-cost life insurance policy can build cash for school.

Empty-Nest Stage

• When your children go to school or move out on their own, it may be time to travel and enjoy your marriage. Perhaps you have wanted to visit Rome or take a university course. We will help you achieve these mid-life goals.

Retirement Stage

•When you’re aged 50 plus, you may want to partially or fully retire. We will help you assess your options.

How do I care for my aging parents?

Here are some tips to help you lighten the load of Elder-Care:

• Plan your caregiving carefully. Don’t be ashamed to ask for and get help from your siblings or others when caring for a family elder—let others share the load—tell them how they can help and let them know you expect it! They can clean, cook, take them to the doctor, shopping, or church, and take them to their home for a little break/holiday, etc.
• Be honest about what you can truly handle. Be honest about how much time you really have when you are home, and what you can realistically achieve. Don’t let your housework stay undone due to your over-commitment to the elder. That isn’t fair to you or your family.
• Assess government and public resources. Find out what services are free or available as paid-for services—learn what your community offers in terms of geriatric care.
• Prioritize your to-dos. In this way you’ll know what needs immediate attention such as their physical comfort and safety. Determine if  any problems such as a lack of heat or air-conditioning, or water leaks, or mold accumulation in the elder’s environment needs attention. Delegate help needed to family members or friends in relation to their skill-set or career or financial ability to help.
• Assign care-tasks to the elder which they are fully capable of doing. List the tasks to define what they can and can’t do. Involve the elder as far as possible in the plan, if they can cook their own meals and bath themselves, and let them know this is henceforth expected of them.
• Outsource where needed. Maybe you need to bring in a house-cleaner weekly and/or hire a handyman. Discuss who you might hire with the elder and where applicable, expect their input in the decision.
• Let the elder assist you financially. You may be putting them up in a space in your home, and they might use your resources, so it is not out of line to ask them to help pay your bills (perhaps via rent). The elder is now retired so they ought to reach into their investment income (if they have wisely invested or have gained other assets) or pension income, to share in the expenses and perhaps buy and prepare their own food.
• Decide to make informed decisions. Don’t procrastinate to make the necessary changes and improvements, because years of frustration may accrue as “things unattended to, only get worse”.
• Meet with a lawyer and financial advisor. If the relative is increasingly dependent on you to help in their estate planning, employ a good lawyer that they can trust; write an up-to-date living and testamentary will.
• Review to determine if there may be life insurance needs for the funeral and burial expenses ahead of time. If there is, consider buying a policy and have siblings or heirs split the premium.
• Assess any tax and/or debt liabilities. Assess retirement savings, investment holdings, other assets and all liabilities to create a mini net worth snapshot to determine the potential net need for life insurance. Then determine the amount necessary. Check if any cash values can create current cash income while maintaining an old policy the elder may own. Determine who will be the Power of Attorney (PA).
• Become an advocate. Don’t be afraid to take the elder’s side. Many are not used to the current culture of today, and need kind understanding. So speak up for their rights and causes; never bully them or ignore their cries for help or justice as they face our health-care system, unfair medicinal prescription fees; or discourteous gestures from others. Dialogue with physicians (and get second opinions) when necessary for their well-being.
• Maintain a happy attitude. Caring for elders can tip your emotional scales; so laugh a little, even at yourself! If you keep your good humour and remain positive, you’ll lessen the stress factor.
• Review and respect the good and fun aspects of their historic life with you. One day your elder won’t be around to show your appreciation to, and love for their positive role in your life. Tell respectful stories about their hero or heroine qualities. They probably did rescue you by overseeing your younger days while feeding and clothing you. Don’t put them down for failures—just forgive them. They may have “been there” for you, so recall the best days of their life so they can realize they were needed, appreciated, and are loved for who they are.
• Maybe write a book on their story. Why not review their life story in a journalized small book of their life history—to leave a legacy to your family to show your appreciation and take your mind off the stressful negatives? It may reveal redemptive qualities; to teach your younger generation by example—to impress the younger generation by the elder’s influence, such as perhaps: their character developed by war, or persistence during poverty, or a corrective life-change, their hard work that led to a business success, or a healed relationship via forgiveness, or their involvement in charitable giving, or their volunteer work to help others, etc.
• Stay ahead of burnout. Get some rest and relaxation and exercise weekly to protect your mental and physical health. Fulfill all your responsibilities; and maintain all your important relationships. Be sure to get the R&R you need to stay graceful, strong and vigorous as your elder ages and becomes more dependent on you.
• Find unanimity in an elder-care support group. They can share their ideas and help you make decisions; help you not to feel alone; help you face the stresses and problems as they relate their wisdom obtained by experience. It doesn’t hurt to get ideas, and compassion from other caregivers who also care about you.

Your love is what counts. Caring for an older adult is not a job that comes with training or gets a lot of thanks—it is something you take on usually out of love. It can be an unappreciated Herculean effort—but at least you’ll know at the end of the day, you did the very best you could.

Every so often you can take a self-inventory and restate your major purpose caring for an elder. This will help you overcome the temptation to complain, throw in the towel, or send the elder off to a rest home too early.

The importance of a Status Certificate when buying a condo

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Condominium living has become an option for homeowners who want to reduce the many responsibilities associated with a single-family residence.  Most condominium corporations assume these tasks and are a popular choice for both young and middle-age purchasers who are too busy, or prefer to limit their day-to-day home duties such as garbage and snow removal; home maintenance and repairs. Condominiums are also attractive to retirees who want to own without any strenuous activities that consume time, or who want freedom and security to travel without worrying about pre-retirement duties.

It is important for a purchaser to obtain an up-to-date status certificate for the unit and have it reviewed by a real estate lawyer.  Real estate agents generally make the agreement of a condo purchase and sale conditional upon a satisfactory review of the Status Certificate. Pursuant to the Condominium Act of 1998 (the “Act”), a condominium corporation has 10 days within which to produce a status certificate for anyone who requests one (upon payment of the prescribed fee which is currently $100).  The Act also establishes what information a status certificate must contain.

What is a status certificate?
A status certificate provides a snapshot of everything that may concern prospective purchasers, including its overall financial situation and budget relative to the amount of money in its reserve fund (a savings account maintained for major repairs and replacements of the common elements such as a new elevator or chiller); the rules by which unit owners are expected to abide; and whether the condominium corporation has knowledge of any circumstances that may result in an increase to the monthly common expenses.

It is vitally important to determine if a condominium corporation is involved or expected to be involved in  litigation, and an up-to-date status certificate may reveal that the unit is subject to a “special assessment,” which is a sum of money the condominium corporation believes must be collected from the unit owners to cover an unforeseen expense.  This knowledge of a special assessment may affect what a purchaser is willing to pay for a unit.

Your mortgage provider may also want to know that your lawyer has accomplished a review of the status certificate as a requirement of the sale.

What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

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If you were to have a stroke, heart attack, or serious operation—a disability to the degree you could not take care of your own affairs, who would take over? What if this was the last day that could make a mindful decision, on your own behalf?

You transfer directorial powers over your affairs to a Power of Attorney 

In such a situation, a Power of Attorney (POA) allows people you trust to manage prescribed affairs of your life.

Without a POA, your family though ready to pay your bills, and help manage your bank account and your investments, for example, may need special court approval to act for you. They could be forced to face a bureaucratic nightmare just to acquire authority to pay your bills (from your provincial public trustee).

• Clarity can be defined A POA leaves no room for misunderstanding the range of authority over your assets. You may need to set restrictive clauses in a POA that addresses your unique concerns.

• You will give up the powers of your signature The POA relinquishes the power of your signature and all the authority associated with it. Unless it states otherwise, a POA may be used by the attorney immediately upon signing.

• It must be witnessed Improper witnessing annuls the legal completion and sets the POA up for contention. Thus make sure the document is witnessed properly.

• Be careful of restrictions you may not want included Some broad form POAs include optional clauses that are often left included, whereas they may not be applicable. These may include restrictions on the attorney that you may not want to impose.

• You may want to restrict beneficiary changes If you want the attorney to have power over changes of beneficiaries to life insurance or investment assets, make that clear. If not, clearly restrict the right to change beneficiaries.

A warning which may or may not apply to you

Unfortunately, an attorney once authorized with your directive powers could feel it is their privilege to become an “empowered benefactor” of your (you, the donor’s) estate once they lose capacity. Therefore, it is wise to have a lawyer articulately document your specific wishes in your Power of Attorney documentation.

To empower and entrust another with your own authority, may be the last time you have the healthy capacity to make a responsible decision on your own behalf; so make it carefully.

Where there is significant wealth involved, consider a POA designed specifically to give powers to assist in the governing of your financial affairs.

 

 

 

 

How can I find more cash to invest?

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One thing is true about building wealth. The discipline of spending less money is the surest path to saving more. But you may have to reform your way of thinking—we do not deserve to buy something now if we can’t afford it today. Here are a few suggested ways to help you spend less:

• Shop with cash. If you carry a debit or credit card, it is too easy to escalate your buying when out at the mall. Better to put a budgeted amount of money in your pocket and spend no more—make sure you include enough for a treat at the café.

• Clean your clothes at home. Try to buy clothing that can be washed at home, using caution not to shrink your fabrics.

• Don’t fire up a temptation. Don’t bother browsing the catalogs, the clothing racks, or the car lot if you don’t have an honest need.

• Look for freebies. Use your own bank’s ATM to save the $1.50 service charge. Try to avoid all the little service charges that hotel chains are starting to slip onto your invoice. Try to include extras with your vacation packages. Buy vacations in domestic dollars if you can. Plan to attend one of the numerous festivities that municipalities pay for and provide in the summer holidays. Consider that many entertainment venues offer discounts just prior to the show.

• Borrow DVDs and CDs at the library. Try your library for movies or music—you may be surprised at the free access they provide.

• Take portable picnic coolers to avoid eating out. This can save you hundreds of dollars per month. Picnics are great getaways in the summer and can be carried in coolers in your car.

• Learn the skill of cooking. It is easy to rack up over $50 with a tip when two eat out one meal per day. By learning to cook, you can add the artistry and relaxation to your own fine dining experience. When you do go out on the town, consider splitting larger meals with your partner. Avoid supersizing fast-food which may cost more and add calories.

• Limit prepaying your taxes. Adjust your income tax deductions at work, to make sure you aren’t pre-paying too much.

• Do a “needs analysis” by asking, “Do we need it?” This is where your partner can help you be honest and accountable by simply discussing every purchase, at say over $50—set your own dollar figure, at a point where you involve the other’s advice. Make lists and discuss your real needs.

• Don’t prepay phone charges. Some long distance residential plans and/or cell plans are priced so high that the average caller will not benefit by a higher pre-paid monthly plan. Long distance and cell phone minutes are better paid by a flat rate, per second, for restrained use as needed. However, some good plans allow you to use VOIP online where prepaid amounts stay on the books, and more minutes can be added as needed. Note: LINKSYS by Cisco Systems offers inexpensive hardware under one hundred dollars at computer stores, which allows two lines to regular phones.

• Liquidate if you have too much stuff. Space costs money so consider what is essential. Go over your furniture, books, general stuff, to determine what you don’t or won’t use in the next five years. If you don’t love it, sell it, or give it away.

• Invest your raise. Avoid spending up to any increase in your income. Rather plan to invest it.

• Assess the unit price and buy in bulk. Most everything is sold in quantity and can be compared with a competing brand—either by ounce kilo, or serving, etc.

• Buy depreciated cars. Avoid the biggest depreciation that occurs among assets. Buy vehicles used after a year or two, with the factory warranty still on it.

• Reduce your vehicle’s weight. Unload excess vehicle weight that can cost in gas consumption. Similarly having your tires carry the correct PSI will offer better gas mileage.

• Know that it all eventually goes on sale. It makes sense to wait it out for the seasonal sales. Stores begin to sell their seasonal stock, including clothing, often prior to the need. So if you are savvy, mark in your calendar the best times to buy. This is true also of travel bargains.

• Pay cash only for groceries. Have you ever spent double what you intended on items that can be eaten? If you pay cash you are forced to budget regardless of how hungry you are, sticking to the necessary items.

• Know where the quality brands are. Don’t purchase items that will wear out prematurely and will have to be replaced; instead buy quality, but shop around for the best prices.

• Buy more when it is really cheap. If you can buy tuna, salmon or spaghetti at 30% less than usual, why not stock up on it? But don’t make the mistake of buying multiple “on sale” items if you don’t need higher quantities.

• Make fun fast food. In many ways, you can make your own fast food, such as fruit or vegetable trays for drives, hikes, or stay-overs.

• Use public transit. By not driving all the time you may save some money. Many municipalities offer cheap bus transportation. Some prefer not to drive if they live in a large city such as Vancouver or Toronto. They can unload insurance, fuel, and repair costs on top of any lease or loan payment (along with the interest). There are car-sharing co-operatives in larger cities. Car rentals can be cheaper in the winter and on weekends.

• Cut your hair between main cuts. Sometimes a minor home trim will add another week before you’ll need to visit the barber or hairdresser.

• Utilize the secondary market. If you are a bookworm, Amazon.com or Abebooks.com may help you find the book for less than a dollar, or perhaps find a camera on eBay at 25% off the cost. Most of the world literature is available online for under $5 for the entire life-work of an author, sold on Amazon Kindle.

• Make the park your gym. Why not walk around the park’s pond and get outside as a bonus.

• Adjust your thermostat. By juggling temperatures by one to two degrees on your thermostat (wear sweaters or shed clothing) you can save a few hundred dollars per year.

• Know how and when to return merchandise. Many admit mistakes or displeasure with a product and promptly return it according to policy—in the free market that is more than fair! Ask about return policies when shopping. Often it is wise to reassess a purchase in a day or two.

• Pre-pay certain vacation costs. Prepaying for a resort food plan in domestic dollars to avoid paying later for dollar-exchange loss, can make budgeting sense because you’ve got to eat anyway. Likewise prepaying museum ticket passes can save money and side-step long line ups.

• Just stop—don’t shop! Tell yourself to stop shopping when you have no imminent need. Try walking, sitting in a café or reading instead.

What insurance protects travelers and visitors?

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These insurance plans can offer emergency medical protection for visitors, immigrants, foreign students and residents who are not covered by government health insurance. Visiting guests can be covered by valid medical health insurance which begins upon arrival here insofar as it is bought ahead of travel.

Emergency medical expenses While travelling outside your country or locality some expenses may be partially covered by your government health insurance. There is both daily or annual coverage, which is great if you travel to the warmer climes in the winter or travel year-round.

What about travel coverage? Travelling outside of his or her country, an insured individual is covered by emergency insurance which pays for expenses related to an emergency medical condition (covered by the plan). These expenses may be a hospital stay, prescription drugs, ambulance transportation, etc. Please refer to the policy for more details.

Coverage can include these expenses:

  • Bedside companion travel and sustenance allowance
  • Ambulance transportation
  • Diagnostic (X-ray, lab tests)
  • Hospital (semi-private room)
  • Flight and travel accident coverage
  • Prescription drugs
  • Physician or surgeon
  • Return transportation to location of travel departure if emergency medical attention is needed
  • Emergency dental treatment by a licensed dentist and associated cost of prescription drugs while the insured is travelling
  • Accidental injury, dismemberment, or death by accident where the accident occurred during travel
  • Loss/damage of baggage and personal effects
  • Trip cancellation and interruption

Understand the details It is better to fill in a form and/or get a copy of the questions and answers within a contract related to any age-related or medical underwriting processes, versus doing an application over the telephone. File these documents in case of the need to claim against travel insurance. Avoid policy cancellation due to misinforming the insurer in relation to medical questions which should always be answered very fully with regard to all past history and medications used, plus retain a hard copy as your proof.

Note: Refer to the policy which may vary. Special plans may be bought outside of an employer’s group plan.

 

 

The Buy-Sell Agreement: A financial safeguards for shareholders

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Buy-Sell agreement is one of the most important legal documents a business can have to protect shareholders in the event of the death of a business owner/partner.

They must be planned ahead Whether you own a partnership or corporation, we can help you set up a buy-sell agreement while you are alive and capable of doing so. We will help you value your company and set up the right Buy-Sell Agreement to meet Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA’s) standards.

Funding the Agreement We can determine if the company has the cash flow or a large amount of money available to fund the buy-out of the deceased or disabled owner. If not, life insurance can be used to fund a buy-sell agreement as it can pay a large amount of tax-free capital at the right timing of the death of a business owner/partner.

Making it legally binding We can meet with your lawyer and the buyers’ lawyers. After it is drafted, all parties will review it to their satisfaction, and then sign it to make it legal. It is suggested that the life insurance be purchased first to ensure that one is insurable. Even where there is a medical problem, in most cases, there is an insurer willing to design a policy to suit the risk, based on the respective health of the individual.

The time-line of Long-Term Care

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The life-time care time-horizon

Respite care is the provision of temporary relief to those who are caring for family members who might otherwise require permanent placement in a facility outside of the home. Respite programs provide planned short-term, time-limited breaks for families and other unpaid primary care givers of adults with an intellectual and/or physical disability.

Shared help from loved ones, and government part-time home care services, helps relieve the primary at-home caregivers to enable them to maintain their own wellness. It allows an aging population to move gracefully towards the potential need for a 24/7 care and/or a palliative care program when medical care or treatment concentrates on reducing the severity of the symptoms of diseases relating to aging, rather than striving to reverse progression of disease. At this final stage of care, the goal is to prevent and relieve suffering for people facing serious, long-term complex illness.

What does Long-term Care Insurance (LTC) offer? Long-term care insurance provides money to pay for the care that you both desire and need. With LTC Insurance, you have:

  • Broader choices about the quality and amount of care you receive.
  • Increase of choices when dedetermininghere you receive care and by whom.

Sources: Canadian Institute for Health Information, Alzheimer Society website, Statistics Canada

Source: Some of the concepts and information are used with the permission of Patty Randall who is widely considered a leading advocate on the need for care-years planning in our country. Visit her website: “Aging Successfully with Passion and Purpose and Care-Years Planning” online at www.longtermcarecanada.com for discussions, ideas and to obtain family materials on this issue.

How do I make financial agreements with my fiscal partner?

When establishing a financial strategy involving other stakeholders, such as paying down a mortgage, develop a written plan that all parties agree on. You can create written point-form agreements for each to sign in areas of investing, registered vehicle planning, debt repayment, etc.

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When determining your goals, it is important to think positively and avoid language such as, “We will never have enough to retire,” or “We can’t seem to get ahead,” or “this debt is killing us.” Statements like this often become self-fulfilling prophecies. Rather, it is important to design an action plan and start working towards it together with all the stakeholders, such as your spouse or partner, referred to henceforth as your fiscal partner. Write your plans out regarding financial concerns such as:

Reduce or eliminate debt. One of the encumbrances to investing for retirement is that you may be servicing too much hard-core credit card debt, much of which is interest. Both fiscal partners may have credit cards doubling the family debt load and vastly reducing your net worth. Thus, it makes sense to pay down the debt on all credit cards, starting with those that carry the highest interest rates first. Aim to be 100 % debt-free of abnormal debt weighting in your net worth statement where possible (mortgages and car payments are normal).

You and your fiscal partner will appreciate the new clarity and increased financial freedom this gives. Slavery to debt repayment is financial bondage, and will increase fiscal-related emotional stress on responsible partners.

Start or maximize your monthly investment plan. Your plan will depend on your income and expenses. If you are young, begin investing now. Any given sum of money can double frequently depending on time and interest rate growth. At 6 % it can double every 12 years; at 4 % every 18 years. Simply divide the interest rate into 72 to get the number of years until doubling occurs.

This simple mathematical illustration reveals the importance of beginning to invest while you are young. If you are near retirement, you may ascertain that you need to ramp up your investing, increasingly over the fewer years you have. The average Canadian retires now at age 62. Become aware of your retirement options, choosing agreed strategies with your partner way ahead of time.

Reallocate assets as you near retirement. An investment portfolio still invested in close to 100 % equities near retirement is very risky. A portfolio must have some fixed income (government bonds, corporate bonds, safe mortgages, and real estate) to reduce stock market risk. Your partner’s risk tolerance while investing.

Take advantage of tax-saving vehicles. Registered investment vehicles can help you reduce or defer the tax hit. Some plans,can offer government grants that supplement your investment contribution to help your children go to post-secondary school. Discuss the viability of tax arrangements using registered investments best suited to both fiscal partners.

Don’t sell good investments amidst a volatile market loss. It may be better to stay invested and adjust your portfolio after the market begins to retrace any losses upward after a period of market volatility. If you hold a good fund, the stocks within that fund are probably good. Nevertheless remain aware of your investment goals and get periodic updates and review the situation with your fiscal partner. Your financial partner may not be able to handle stress caused by a volatile market so plan with this in mind.

Maintain financial accounts with transparency. Spouses and partners who share mutual financial goals have a right to be aware of the banking and investment accounts and movement of funds via frequent transparent discussion. Total honesty is necessary. One spouse should not borrow recklessly, nor use credit without the agreement of the other spouse, where funds are to be accounted together in mutual fiscal arrangements. There should only be private boundaries where agreed, such as business agreements, risk, or debt and/or income necessary for solvency. Business accounts or agreements increasing risk should not co-mingle with personal finance or accounts. Establish such boundaries in advance or hard feelings can develop.

 


EN 3.13

 

The increasing need for Long-Term Care Insurance

The need for Long-Term Care Insurance is increasing as medical intervention and medications keep us living longer.

  • Every year, about 50,000 strokes occur in Canada. A stroke is the leading cause of a transfer from hospital to a long-term care facility.
  • Nearly 10% (1 in 11) of Canadians over age 65 are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.
  • An increasing demographic (7%) of Canadians age 65 and over are residing in healthcare institutions.
  • An additional 28% of Canadians age 65 and over receive care for a long-term health problem, outside of a healthcare institution.

Sooner or later ageing baby boomers starting to enter retirement will increasingly depend on long-term care, offered by their children or professional health care services.

A study authored by Dr. Marcus Hollander and Neena Chappell of the University of Victoria found that approximately $25 billion dollars worth of unpaid care is provided willingly by family members and friends in lieu of paid care.

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As the populace ages, more care for the elderly, such as respite care (additional home care services) will increasingly be needed to provide family members with the medical guidance and support they need to continue caring for their loved ones. With this in mind, are our families financially prepared to deal with costs associated with providing long-term care for loved ones?

Fewer hospitals offer long-term care A historic study which remains relevant, looked at a trend which revealed a 35.6% reduction in staffed long-term care beds in the extended care sector, from the late-80s to mid-90s, when our ageing population has been growing at an unprecedented rate. The baby boomer population is noticeably ageing. Canadians need to concern themselves with this question: Will governments be able to provide the necessary spaces and accommodate the increasing demand on the healthcare sector with regard to long-term care?

Staffed Beds In Hospitals

Source: Statistics Canada, pre-baby boomer info

What does Long-term Care Insurance (LTC) offer? Long-term care insurance provides money to pay for the care that you both desire and need. With LTC Insurance, you have:

  • Broader choices about the quality and amount of care you receive.
  • An increase of choices when determining where you receive care and by whom.

Sources: Canadian Institute for Health Information, Alzheimer Society website, Statistics Canada

Source: Some of the concepts and information are used with the permission of Patty Randall who is widely considered a leading advocate on the need for care-years planning in our country. Visit her website: “Aging Successfully with Passion and Purpose and Care-Years Planning” online at www.longtermcarecanada.com for discussions, ideas and to obtain family materials on this issue.