Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tough Questions Part I - End of life questions

From my CBC Radioactive segment with Peter Brown - October 1, 2009:

For the month of October, as Radioactive's personal finance columnist, I'm going to walk listeners through some of the toughest questions we need to ask ourselves and our loved ones when it comes to finance.

This week, we are going to ask the tough questions about end of life issues: 10 tough questions to ask yourself, your spouse, parent and siblings. There is no good time to really ask these questions, but they've got to be asked - and ideally when someone is in good health.

What's the first tough question I need to ask?

I think the first important question for your parents, spouse etc., What do you want done with your remains.

Is it cremation? If so, where would you like your ashes, fully intact in one container or, most places offer the large urn and a little one for the fireplace.

Is it Burial? If so, where? Do you have a plot already purchased?

And the other thing we need to take into account is religion - would you like a minister, what kind, a certain denomination, prayer service, wake, non religious, other?

What about when it comes to health care?

You need to look at living wills and personal directives. If there is one in place, people need to know where to find it and know which hospital to deal with, who's the family doctor? It's amazing how many adult children don't know this about their own parents.

What are some of the tough questions that come with personal directives?

Basically, what type of care and when would you like administered during a time of illness. Do you want to be resuscitated for example? If the answer is no, that needs to be known by all family members. If 911 is called for example, the ambulance drivers will always try to resuscitate. So if that isn't a wish, a document should be posted on the fridge in plane site.

While it seems that living wills and personal directives are more of a seniors issue, you never know what can happen and when. These are issues for every age group.

And people should talk to their loved ones about things like organ donation too. Your family should know what you want, and you should know what family members would like to do.

There are also Last rights, anointing, prayer - at a time of sickness, would you like someone called for prayer and if so, what type (denomination, minister, anyone?)

What about legal issues....what questions should we be asking there?

Everyone should have an enduring power of attorney. This is different from a regular power of attorney - say, you travel a great deal and have someone look after your financial affairs while you're away. In the event of mental incapacity, even if only for a short while, a regular power of attorney would cease to be legal. This is where an "enduring" power of attorney is needed. It only springs into effect during a mental incapacity. Please secure your own legal advice as each province and situation may be different.

Who would you like to make these decisions (financial and otherwise) in the event of incapacity?
And then you need to know if there is a will and if there is one, where it's kept? That leads us to the safety deposit box. If there is one where are the keys kept and where is the box itself.

Lastly, you'll want to consider special gifts. Do you have any that are essential to pass out? Where are your pictures, for final planning and more?

Here's a link to my top 10 tough questions. Ensure that loved ones know where it's kept -

Tune in next week for part two of four in our tough questions series. Each Thursday at about 4:10 on Radioactie Edmonton - 93.9fm and 740am. And be sure to send us your tough questions.

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