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Yes, Barbie, sometimes I think about dying
And that means preparing the paperwork, maybe while wearing pink.
Hi, I’m Renée, a finance and business journalist, writer and content strategist. The Budgette is about single finances and publishes twice a month. I prefer to write when I have something to say versus writing because I have to. It gives me time to speak to financial, legal and other experts. When I’m not here, I write and do strategy for other publications and brands.
I don’t know if it’s a result of the pandemic or just writing about personal finance and business, but a lot of my work focuses on transition moments like retirement planning, aging, and family business succession, the non-sexy stuff.
What stands out is how we feel about paperwork. It could be anxiety around doing said paperwork but a lot of us procrastinate about filling out or updating forms.
Herman (Tommy) Thompson Jr. a financial planner with Innovative Financial Group mentioned in a LinkedIn post about the importance of making sure your paperwork is updated.
It’s even more important when you’re single. You don’t have a partner who may know your wishes and even then, they may not adhere to them if you’re physically or mentally incapacitated or dead.
If you’re fortunate, you have close family and friends you can speak with and confide your wishes. Even then, they may not follow your spoken wishes due to grief, expenses and their own lives.
So, paperwork. Better yet, up-to-date paperwork that clearly outlines what you want during your life and after you die.
We know that we’re supposed to have a will, powers of attorney and an estate plan but what should you put in them?
As always, make sure to talk to the experts after you read this because everyone’s will, estate, medical and funeral desires and family is different. I’ve provided a very high-level overview and it is Ontario-focused as that’s the province I live in.
First, a will and an estate plan are two different things. Your will is part of your estate plan and dictates where your assets go after you die. It also provides guidelines on guardianship for your children and pets. I interviewed two people about wills in this post:
An estate plan is a collection of documents, including the will and the action plan for your assets while you’re alive and after your death. It includes the will, trusts if you have one, powers of attorney for health and property, any directives for your life to the point of death including a preference for medical treatments, retirement homes, which direction you would like your window to face, whether you want someone to come in and your hair on a monthly basis, and even things like who gets your collection of peonies, as I wrote about here for Canadian Family Offices.
Think of it as the information binder for life. If your friends or family aren’t sure what to do in a certain situation, they can refer to your estate plan for an answer.
For example, I’ve joked about finding a nice vase from Winners for my ashes but as I work on my estate plan, I’m wondering if I should actually put that in it.
(Look, I didn’t say this would be a comfortable topic. Deal with it.)
Not going to lie, I find this overwhelming. My will is up-to-date as are my powers of attorney. I also agreed to be the executor of a friend’s estate and said I’d keep her cat. So that part’s done.
It’s the rest of it that makes me want to drape myself dramatically on the couch or bed and ignore it.
Part of that is the denial of death. Yes, memento mori, and death and taxes but part of me is, “eeeeeeeh, do I have to think about it now? I’m still young!”
Another part is I really trust my family and close friends to do the right thing but I realize that not having an estate plan isn’t a kindness for them.
I’m also a bit of a control freak about who gets what, including some sentimental things and I am thinking of a party (yeah, a wake but not a full nine-day) so I will need an estate plan.
The plan is to work on it in increments. The will and POAs are done and up-to-date. Next will be listing what I actually want for retirement living, if my monstera plant should go to my plant-loving friend, and if I should leave instructions and money to book haircuts every couple of months.
Now, some practical advice based on my talking to lawyers and advisors: Update your paperwork whenever there’s a major change. Adopted a pet? Update your will. Inherited money? Update. Changed your mind about medical intervention? Update. Not talking to that friend or family member? Update. Bought a retirement property with your friends. Please update. Divorced? Married? Partnered? Yes, you guessed it.
This week’s readings:
This is fun! I almost want to put my favourite article lede or novel recommendation on my gravestone. This woman bakes the family recipes people put on their gravestones – and it makes for a very unusual TikTok page (cbsnews.com)
I did journalism. I don’t judge your living situation, just go into it with full knowledge about the situation and any paperwork. The ‘stay-at-home girlfriend’ trend could be dangerous to your financial health — here’s how to protect yourself (Toronto Star)
The next Bank of Canada overnight interest rate target announcement is July 12. This seems relevant. Canada Adds Guidelines for Banks to Prevent Mortgage Defaults (Yahoo Canada)
Love how they conveyed the information. What banks actually do with the money in your account. (Washington Post)
Putting this here because we all like calculators. Are you middle class? (Washington Post)
Huh. A record-high share of 40-year-olds in the U.S. have never been married (Pew Research)
I love this tweet because yes, I’d outsource so much if I could.