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Funeral Planning

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Having a power of attorney, will important No one plans to become incapacitated. Having the appropriate plan in place ensures your values, convictions and beliefs are respected even though you may not be capable of making decisions for yourself. One way to do that is by drafting a document that permits you to legally appoint another individual or individuals to manage your affairs should you become incapable or incompetent. This document is known as a Power of Attorney and the two most common Power of Attorney documents are a Continuing Power of Attorney and a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. The authority enacted through a Power of Attorney is vast and one must act diligently when selecting an attorney. Please note that when referring to your attorney throughout this document I am referring to your appointed substitute decision maker and not your lawyer. Additionally, if you are appointed to act as an attorney for a friend or family member it can be a considerable commitment. A Continuing Power of Attorney authorizes your attorney to act on your behalf in financial matters. Common tasks your attorney will undertake may include

paying bills, applying for benefits that you may be entitled to, collecting your pension or any other income, managing your investment portfolio or delegating this task to the appropriate party, and selling your home if necessary. A typical Continuing Power of Attorney grants broad powers to your attorney. This expanse of power is necessary to allow your attorney to manage your financial affairs appropriately. Unfortunately, fraud or misuse of a Continuing Power of Attorney is not uncommon. As such, selecting the appropriate attorney(s) is an important decision that requires substantial consideration. A Power of Attorney for Personal Care authorizes your attorney to make health care decisions on your behalf. The decisions your attorney may be required to make can be difficult and involve the quality of care you receive, the consent or denial of suggested health treatment, and whether or not to consent to potentially extending your life via artificial means. As these decisions can be consequential for both the individual making the decisions and the family and friends that are impact-

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ed, a Power of Attorney for Personal Care appointment requires an individual who is prepared to handle this emotional responsibility. Many people choose to include a Living Will as part of their Power of Attorney for Personal Care. A Living Will is a statement of wishes solidifying the grantor’s beliefs and values with respect to end of life care. A common inclusion in a Living Will states that the grantor does not wish to be kept alive by artificial means or heroic measures if there is no reasonable expectation of their survival from extreme physical or mental disability. One of the benefits of including such a statement is that your loved ones will know what to do when faced with that decision — and they will have comfort knowing they adhered to your wishes. Selecting the appropriate attorney and your understanding of your responsibilities if selected as an attorney are much more complicated than this general overview. It can be one of the most impactful decisions of your life. Disclaimer: This is a general overview and is not to be construed as legal advice. Talk to a lawyer about your situation. submitted by Nathan Martin of Smith Valeriote Law Firm

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Funeral Planning

Advisor: Be careful with joint ownership Placing non-registered accounts into joint ownership with right of survivorship is one of the most common methods of avoiding probate and it can be effective in the right situation. However, there are some significant disadvantages with joint ownership that may outweigh the benefits. Fortunately, there are other probate-avoidance options available to help avoid the risks and provide other benefits as well. Probate is an administrative procedure where the courts confirm the validity of the will and the authority of the executors. The cost depends on the value of the estate and, in Ontario, it’s about 1.5%. The probate process can be lengthy - months or years if the will is contested - and the probate process makes your will a public record. The advantage of joint ownership is that, on the death of one joint owner, the asset transfers directly to the survivor without becoming part of the estate or going through the probate process. But there are disadvantages too: - The addition of a joint owner will be considered a taxable disposition triggering a potential tax liability if capital gains are realized. It can also impact the taxation of future earnings from the asset, whether it’s an investment portfolio or a rental property. - The transfer to joint ownership will also result in a loss of control of the asset. Any decisions will now

Metro Creative photo require consent of the other owner. - As a result of the transfer, you have exposed the asset to the creditors of the new owner if they get sued or file for bankruptcy. If the new owner is married, the asset could be subject to an equalization claim in the event of marital breakdown. - If a home is made joint, a portion of the principal residence exemption may be jeopardized. - Any tax liability triggered by the automatic transfer at death will become the responsibility of the remaining estate. Beneficiaries under the will may have their entitlements unfairly reduced. There are alternatives to reduce costs and complexity

of your estate: - Rather than changing to joint ownership, a Power of Attorney (POA) will allow an appointed child to pay bills on your behalf. A POA also ends at death with no right of ownership. If you’ve taken the time to prepare a POA through your lawyer, always use a notarial copy of that POA with your financial institutions. Be cautious signing POA forms at the bank - in many cases, it will cancel previous POAs including the carefully considered POA you did with your lawyer. Segregated funds and Guaranteed Interest Contracts through insurance companies allow you to name beneficiaries and avoid probate for these specific assets.

These assets bypass your estate and are paid directly to the beneficiaries - confidentially and usually within two to three weeks of the insurance company receiving sufficient proof of death. In summary, estate planning is not a “do-it-yourself” project and you don’t get a second chance to get it right. If you have concerns about your estate plan, seek out the advice of a qualified, financial advisor specializing in estate planning. It will provide you with peace of mind and potentially save you and your beneficiaries thousands in taxes. submitted by Dan Allen, senior financial advisor, Dan Allen Financial in Fergus.


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Funeral Planning

Navigating the waters of funeral trusts Discussing end-of-life issues can be an emotional experience. Making decisions upon the death of a loved one can be challenging, especially if the wishes of the deceased are murky or unknown. Funeral trusts often help families avoid making decisions at times when their emotions may make such decisions more difficult. What is preplanning a funeral? Preplanning a funeral can save family and friends from having to make difficult decisions. It also enables people to choose their burial space, services and transportation. Preplanning also allows people to pay for or arrange payment for their funeral costs ahead of time. According to Consumer Protection Ontario, a person can pre-plan a funeral with-

out prepaying. However, many people prefer to have all financial components in place as well for maximum convenience. What is a funeral trust? Funeral trust can be a smart investment for people who have not spelled out their wishes in a will or conveyed them in writing to someone who will be managing their estate. Funeral trusts may be referred to as revocable or irrevocable. An irrevocable funeral trust, or IFT, is a tool people who are facing the high cost of skilled nursing care can consider. An IFT establishes an account into which money for funeral expenses is deposited. The money cannot be withdrawn or refunded, and funds must be used for funeral expenses.

In the United States, an IFT is often considered an eligible expense during the social services spend-down process. That means the money deposited in the trust is exempt as a countable asset from any financial look-back period that helps determine eligibility for government healthcare services, such as Medicaid. Revocable funeral trusts can be cancelled. According to the National Care Planning Council, a revocable trust can be created by anyone and, at a later date, can be dissolved by the person who originally created it. Various organizations oversee the investment and management of prepaid funeral trust accounts. When is a trust unnecessary? In certain instances,

a funeral trust will not be needed. Those who have the means to fund long-term care services and will not need assistance later in life may not want their money locked up in a trust. Others opt for life insurance policies to pay for funeral needs. Assistance with funeral trusts Funeral homes may work directly with companies that manage funeral funds. Speak with a funeral director if you want to learn more about trusts. Trusts also can be established by working with an elder care attorney or with a funeral trust agency. Taking care of funeral planning in advance can relieve families of the stress of making funeral decisions in the wake of a loved one’s death.

Steps involved with estate planning Estate planning is an umbrella term that refers to a host of things that must be done prior to a person’s death, including writing a will and even making funeral arrangements. Estate planning attempts to eliminate financial uncertainties and maximize the value of an estate, and allows men and women to state their wishes with regard to longterm healthcare and guardianship for their children. When done right, estate planning can prevent family feuds and ensure that the deceased’s estate stays in the hands of family rather than being relegated to the government. Estate planning can be a complex process, so men and women should seek help to ensure the process goes smoothly. Getting started Estate planning should begin early in a person’s life, especially for young parents. It’s easy to talk about saving for a home or retirement, but it’s not so simple to discuss who will care for your children should you die while

they are still minors. Those who are not able to sort through these answers on their own should enlist the help of an attorney or a financial adviser, both of whom can take some of the emotion out of the discussion and put it in more practical terms. The will A will is an important component of estate planning. Without clearly and legally spelling out your wishes, there is no guarantee that those wishes will be honoured. It will be up to a state or province to make potentially life-altering decisions that can impact your surviving family members, and the only way to ensure your wishes will be carried out is to put them into a will. Although men and women can write their own wills, many people prefer to seek the assistance of an attorney, who can make sure all necessary details are included in the will. Medical directives In addition to a will, estate

planning includes your wishes if you become incapacitated or suffer from a serious medical condition that precludes you from making decisions about your care and finances. Spouses can be named to make important health decisions, but you may want to indicate other information, such as life support measures or organ donation, as well. If you have strong opinions on treatment, medical directives and living wills are a necessity. Funeral arrangements Another aspect of estate planning concerns funeral arrangements. Many people prefer to make their own funeral and burial plans so that these heart-wrenching decisions do not fall on the shoulders of grieving family members. Funeral planning may include choosing a burial plot, selecting a casket, indicating cremation, and paying for everything in advance so there is no financial burden on surviving family members. According to the funer-

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Plan your after-death care at cafe workshop Most of us don’t think about our death very often, but more and more people are recognizing the need to plan for their after-death care -- and they’re wondering how to go about it. Enter local death care advocates Ingrid Ng and Christine Lafazanos, who will walk you through your after-death care options, and help you document your decisions to share with your loved ones. They have created an informative and relaxed workshop called “Plan Your After-Death Care”. The workshop will be held Sukha Yoga Centre in Guelph (42 Wyndham Street North, Unit 103) on April 23 from 1 to 4pm. The cost is $125 and preregistration is required. The workshop will provide you with information about your choices for your end-of-life ceremony, and for the care and disposing of your human remains. Want to donate your body to science? Sure, the University of Guelph anatomy department might be an option. Yet you’ll need to arrange that before you die. Are you interested in learning about what your green burial options are locally? You might be surprised to know that cremation is not that eco-friendly, and embalming isn’t so rosy either. And did you know it’s entirely safe and legal to have a home funeral? Or that you could have an end of life celebration that is a campfire sing-along or a laughterfilled story sharing circle at

your favourite cafe? These are some of the topics and tips that workshop participants will be learning about. As well, making space to reflect on your values, to ask questions, and to document your preferences is another important element of this workshop. The workshop will not include some of the health, legal and financial aspects of planning for death such as outlining advance care directives, planning wills and appointing power of attorney, or estate planning. There is a shift happening in the way funerals, memorials, and end-of-life celebrations are done. We are rewriting the rules, and creating new traditions and rituals that speak to us, serve our needs, bring our community together, and are an appropriate fit for the person who has died. It’s possible to create ceremonies that are filled with stories, that have room for celebration and laughter, which accurately reflect the beliefs, values and personality of the person who died. Similarly, our options for what happens with our bodies when we die are diversifying and new methods of returning the body to the earth are emerging. Many of us are seeking greener options, and seeking options that involve our families and loved ones. We no longer want to shy away from death and instead can see that healing and celebration are possible when loved ones are directly involved in the care of the body.

Metro Creative photo How your death is handled is your choice. Relieve the burden of decision making from your loved ones, save them the worries of “Is this what mom would have wanted?” Give them more space to focus on their grief and the other arrangements that need to be taken care of at death. In this workshop you’ll be able to learn from the experience of two local women trained in deathcare. Facilitated by Death Doula Ingrid Ng and Celebrant Christine Lafazanos.

Ng is a death doula and a graduate of the Beyond Yonder Virtual School for Community Deathcaring. She believes that death can be a life-affirming and community-building event, and aims to provide gentle, empowering support to individuals and families in the transition from life to death. Lafazanos is a celebrant with Woven Threads – Handcrafted Ceremonies where she creates custom, story-filled funeral, wedding and life-cycle ceremonies. Lafazanos is passionate about supporting commu-

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nity members to mark life’s milestones and transitions through meaningful and healing ritual and ceremony. The workshop location is the beautiful Sukha Yoga Centre conveniently located downtown Guelph at 42 Wyndham Street North, Unit 103, beside IF footwear in St George’s Square. An open studio space filled with natural light is the calming container for our exploration. Sukha is a physically accessible space with physically accessible, gender neutral washrooms. This is a

scent-free facility so please refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes, or other scented products. Tea and light snacks will be available. Closest bus stops are in St George’s square. Free street parking is available downtown (Cork St and Quebec St are the closest options). The fee for the workshop is $125. A limited number of sliding scale spaces are available; please contact organizers if you’re interested. Space is limited, we suggest you register early. To pre-register via Eventbrite head to Facebook and search the event title “Plan Your After-Death Care” or head to Contact organizers if you need other payment options (i.e. payment by cheque). This workshop is well suited to adults of any age and any stage of life. Open to all spiritual or religious beliefs or nonbeliefs. This space is welcoming to LGBTQ+ folks. This is a death positive space—come prepared for open and direct conversations about death and dying. We do not intend to cover other important aspects of death, such as the following: advanced directives, wills and executor duties; estate planning and financial decisions; and physician-assisted death. These important topics may come up in our discussions, but they are not central to the purpose of this workshop. submitted by Christine Lafazanos, certified life-cycle celebrant, Woven Threads

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Downsizing 101: No one really wants mom and dad’s old wooden duck collection There comes a time for all of us when the decision has been made to move our aging parents into a smaller, more suitable retirement residence. The reason could be for any number of things. Too much house for them to tend, too many stairs, they’re buying a retirement home down south, or perhaps there is a health reason. Regardless of the “why”, this time comes for us all and sooner or later, we all need to address the important question … what are we going to do with all this stuff? Recent studies have shown that 30 per cent of people over age 70 had done nothing to give away belongings. More than half of these folks agreed they just had too much “stuff.” So what does that mean? It simply means most folks have to get rid of a lot of stuff

before they move. It is unrealistic to fit everything from a three bedroom home into a one bedroom condo. There’s going to be a lot of furniture and memorabilia that’s just not going to make the cut. And let’s face it, not every family member wants or appreciates being given cherished “antiques” or knick-knacks collected over a lifetime. We all, however, need to remember this is going to be a hard time and there will be a lot of emotional ties to things. Our best advice: be kind, patient, and above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Here is a helpful tip: ensure you have a layout of the new space. Then you can begin to sort. Take an inventory of furniture you have, and ask yourself: what would I replace if it were all gone? These items are the essential

pieces that will go. The rest of your items can be sorted using these five questions. 1. Does this item remind me of any happy memories that I want to remember? 2. Does this item truly add value in my home? 3. Is this item useful in my home? 4. Can I think of a way to use this item right now? 5. Would getting rid of this item create undue stress for me or my parent? If you answered no to more than three of these questions, donate or recycle the item. If you are simply too overwhelmed, or haven’t even thought about the sorting stage, there is lots of help available to you. There are companies that specialize in helping you find the very best possible place for mom or dad to live in.

Companies that specialize in senior moves, firms that will help “de-clutter,” firms that stage homes for sale, and even professional organizers that can help build a specific plan for you. A certified executor advisor can assist you every step of the way. In summary, help mom or dad see this move as an exciting new chapter in their life. They don’t need to bring everything, just the things they look at, sit on, or use on a daily basis. Remind them that spending time in a space that makes them happy can have a profound impact on the way they feel. They have worked hard their whole lives - they deserve to be happy … and clutter-free. submitted by Dean Dunbar, Parallel Estate and Executor Services

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the best decisions. Men and women who preplan their funerals have ample time to decide just what they want their memorial services to be like and how they want to fund those services. Preplanning ensures your wishes are honored, which can give men and women peace of mind and will provide peace of mind to the loved ones they leave behind, who can attend funeral services knowing those services are being conducted in adherence to their loved one’s wishes. It can help control costs. Knowing that a funeral,

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