Thursday, August 14, 2008

If not now, when? End-of-life planning

Guest Contribution John Scholl Investors Group

Bob Allison knew exactly what he wanted – how his legacy should be passed on, who should handle his estate, the way he wished to be treated in a medical emergency, even the type of funeral service he expected – but when an aneurysm suddenly incapacitated him and ultimately caused his death, it all went wrong. That’s because even though Bob knew exactly what he wanted, he had not made his wishes clear to anyone else close to him – and that oversight caused a lot of emotional and financial issues for his family that could have been avoided with a well-considered end-of-life plan.
Illness and death are spectres none of us likes to think about – but by doing so now, you will truly be helping your loved ones later. Here are the basic ingredients of a sound end-of-life plan:

Financial issues
· Ensure your will and power of attorney are up-to-date.
· Be sure that your family knows where to find your financial and estate planning documents.
· Appoint a health care directive (power of attorney for personal care), which lets you appoint someone who will make decisions on your behalf about your future treatment, or express your health care decisions, or both. The portion of the directive that expresses your health care decisions is often called a “living will”.
· Plan your funeral. You can prearrange your funeral by leaving specific directions with the funeral director who will be providing the services. Your arrangements should be based on what you want and how much you wish to pay. Put your funeral plan in writing and give copies to your family members and your lawyer.

Life planning issues
· Talk to your family. Discuss how you would like your financial and medical affairs to be handled if you become incapable of doing so for yourself. Tell them about your funeral plans and any religious rites you may want. Explain your medical and treatment expectations including your thoughts on palliative care – that is, moving from medical treatment aimed at finding a cure to medical treatment aimed at easing pain and suffering. Explain your position on organ donation.
· Make your decisions now so your loved ones won’t be confused or find themselves in financial trouble when you are no longer able to provide for them.
· Deliver important messages. Make an action list of the people you want to talk to or say goodbye to before you go.
It’s a good idea to include a professional advisor in your end-of-life planning and discussions with your family.

John Scholl B. Mathematics, CGA, Wealth Management & Financial Planning, Investors Group

John is available by email , or telephone (905) 450-2891

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