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Christmas – A Season to be Grateful

bigstock-Grandparents-Outdoors-On-Patio-4135776As 2012 winds down, it is a time to reflect on what we have accomplished this year and the items still left to complete.  During the Christmas season, the list can be especially lengthy. There are gifts to purchase for family and friends, decorations to put up, cards to send, groceries to purchase and special meals to plan and prepare. How fortunate many of us are able to do these things. Do you feel grateful?

Recently I watched a woman struggled to get out of the car at the store.  I realized how much I take for granted; the ability to get in and out of my car easily, drive to the stores I wish to go to and be able to find and purchase the items I want. For many people these seemingly simple tasks are monumental.  For me it was a reminder to be thankful and grateful that I am able to complete these tasks. Read more

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Garden of Remembrance

As we near Remembrance Day many of us will wear a poppy as a sign of respect and gratitude for those who served in uniform to protect and ensure the freedom of Canada.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow…  In the spring of 1915 when Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae wrote this poem at the second Battle of Ypres he likely never imagined how the poppy would come to represent gratitude and hope for Veterans and survivors of WW I.

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When Your Spouse Won’t Discuss Death

I really want to preplan my funeral arrangements but my Husband/Wife won’t talk about it. Are you someone who has a spouse who won’t discuss death? I have heard this many times, and it is frustrating for the partner that would like to organize things ahead of time, not to be able to take advantage of the opportunity.

It is frustrating when one partner has the veto power and the other partner has to follow along and keep the peace in the relationship. Often the partner that wants to organize things ahead of time, can see the emotional and financial advantages of doing this.  Yet they must bite their tongue and go along with the usually uninformed decision of their partner.

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Should You Renew or Cash in Your GIC?

bigstock-Green-Wheel-Barrel-Full-Of-Dol-5607013A GIC is a funding vehicle used to earn money on the principle invested with a guaranteed rate of return for a set period of time and many people appreciate the safety of investing their money in Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC). Now, if you invested your money into a GIC say five years ago, you may have been earning a 7% rate of return on your principle.  This looks wonderful compared to the current guaranteed interest rate of 1.5% to 2.0 % or so. Is now a good time to renew or cash in your GIC?

Although the principal amount invested is guaranteed, the interest earned on a GIC is taxable as income.  If the investor has a marginal tax rate of 22% then the real return on the GIC is lower than the original 7% guaranteed over the term of the GIC.  The realized rate of return is just under 5.5%.  And in the current GIC market the guaranteed rate of return is much lower than 7% and is hovering around 1.5 to 2.0%

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What Happens if I Can’t Pay For a Funeral?

bigstock-Grieving-Family-4457703Have you ever asked the question ‘what happens if I can’t pay for the funeral?’ If people have not prepaid part of all of their funeral expenses, then their next of kin or whoever signed the funeral contract are responsible to pay the funeral account.  Many Funeral Homes will require a deposit prior to making any arrangements on your behalf and some Funeral Homes require payment in full by the day the funeral services are provided.

This can cause extreme disagreements between brother and sister as to the type and level of merchandise to select for mom or dad’s funeral.  I know of two brothers’ that agreed to split dad’s funeral cost 50/50.  The one brother put the full account on his credit card and the other promised to write him a cheque for his half of the funeral cost.  Well that cheque never got written after several requests for reimbursement.  The outcome?  These brothers’ have not spoken to each other in 25 years!  Is this worth 50% of the cost of the funeral?

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Who has the Legal Authority to Make Decisions When You Die?

Man with urnWhen funeral arrangements are being made, the Funeral Director is often caught in the middle, between family members and wishes for the type of funeral being planned.  You may think that when a family’s mother or father has died and a funeral has to be planned, that the family would be a cohesive decision making unit.  This is often not the case.  When death and money mix, various family members can have radically different views as to the type of funeral to plan and merchandise to select for the funeral.  This is especially the case if mom or dad did not preplan or prepay his or her own funeral arrangements.  In this blog post, we’ll talk about who has the legal authority to make decisions when you die.

I have been assisting families when they all look around the table and ask each other if mom or dad ever talked about the kind of funeral they wanted.  Did they want burial or cremation? Did they want a service in the Church or the Chapel?  Blank stares and the “deer in the headlight look” come over the families’ faces and they are left in a lurch to learn about funeral planning, their options, merchandise selections – all the while wondering if this is really what mom or dad would have wanted.  I know of one family, whose father died and he never spoke about the type of funeral he wanted, nor whether it was to be burial or cremation.  The families’ consensus finally was to have a service for dad and then have him cremated.  Everyone felt good with that decision and process – until they found the will and read it to find out that he preferred burial!  Oh Dear!  We do not have the technology to un-cremate a person and now the family is left with the memory that they did not do what their father had wanted done.

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Are You an Adult Orphan?

9377819_sThe usual course of life events is that our parents will likely predecease us.  Yet even when we are adults and often have families ourselves, the notion of losing our parents can still be extremely emotional and heart breaking. Often, we can feel like adult orphans.

Throughout our lives our parents are our parents and I know that my parents still have the ability to make me feel like I am 12 years old in a nano second. How about the helpful, well intended, unsolicited advice as simple as “don’t forget your coat”…and snap, you feel like a little kid again.  Or perhaps your family has the story that is told, retold and told again.  You know the story by heart and are extremely sick of hearing it – yet one day you will not be able to hear them tell that story again.

As we are aging so are our parents.  Through the years of declining health for our parents we are reminded that their days with us are limited.  A simple ring of the phone may be the dreaded call we are anticipating at some point.

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Are your Affairs in Order?

18766738_sFive words that will change your life:  “Are your affairs in order?” or perhaps you know someone who has been told “You better get your affairs in order.”

When people hear this, there has usually been a sudden change in their health, serious illness, an accident or even imminent death.  Of the approximately 300,000 deaths per year in Canada about 30% of these are sudden and unexpected.  The remaining 70% of these deaths or 200,000 deaths are known and expected.  Are your affairs in order? –  Is the gift of time.

How the individual hearing these words or their loved ones’ deals with this knowledge can be very diverse.  Certainly there can be anger, denial, procrastination, and any myriad of other emotions.  Or these words can ignite action.

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Funeral Pre-Planning Myth – My Family Knows What I Want

bigstock-Religion-death-and-dolor--f-24592586In my last blog post on the series Dispelling Myths About Funeral Preplanning, I discussed two more myths about funeral preplanning; that being the costs involved and misconceptions about cremation. In this blog post, we’ll address this myth: my family knows what I want………………..

I have heard this many times and more often than not, the family does not know what you want – either because you have not told them or the funeral directions are recorded in the will.

Sometimes funeral directions are included in the will. Unfortunately the will is generally read after the funeral. One family I know of had cremated their father as none of them recalled him talking about his preference. When they read the will, the funeral directions indicated that he wanted to be buried. What a shock for this family! At another funeral, two brothers were fist fighting at the cemetery – both adamant that dad wanted to be buried in the ground and the other brother equally adamant that dad had told him he wanted to be entombed in a crypt. This is not a good day for anyone.

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Dispelling 2 More Funeral Preplanning Myths

3263252_sIn my last blog post, I discussed the fact that there are myths with respect to funeral preplanning and discussed some of the legislation that surrounds it. In this blog post, I’ll dispel 2 more funeral preplanning myths; that of cost and cremation.

Myth #1: It’s expensive to preplan a funeral, right? No, absolutely not.

It’s Free.

Preplanning a funeral does not cost any money. In fact it is a loving gift to let your family know what you would prefer to celebrate your life in the end.

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