Monday, October 31, 2016

Elder planning and joint accounts save a lot of stress for us younger'uns

So as my father has his (probably) last night on earth, I have a little straight forward advice for my peeps who might have older parents.
Although I work in counselling and deal with resistance all the time, I am no wizard for knowing this -  my good friend at work lost her dad last year and had many good ideas that have really helped out this year.

If your parents are 'getting up there':

- ask them to do a simple will so there is no confusion about what should be done 'just in case.' "Just so we know we are honoring your wishes."  Only a couple hundred $ for a will and it makes the lawyers and institutions behave. Especially if you have an 'interesting' family situation - make sure things are written down before you discover there is another sibling in Belize.

- consider power of attorney. And DON'T approach this as 'I will get to control your affairs' which will make the elder resist bitterly. Look at it as 'I will be your flunkey' ie: do your banking for you, pay your Autopac for you, sign things for you so you don't have to.  Seniors DO NOT like giving up control... but they don't mind seniors discounts and sucking up - so note that it puts you not in control but in the SERVANT role. In fact, if they do the power of attorney at the same time as the will - DON'T use it for awhile. Let them get used to the idea. And then one day when they complain they can't get to the bank, offer to do it for them. Let them control how soon you start doing things for them.

- propose a Health Care Directive (living will). It's just a form that says - in case they cannot speak for themselves - you can honor their wishes. Again, this is not about taking control but - "just in case, like Mrs. ABC your know after her stroke" - it allows the proxy person to make decisions in case the person can't. Otherwise, the doctors and hospital will make decisions that you clearly would not want.  Having the Power-of-Attorney and HCD made the hospitals be WAY more helpful with care of the parents these last few months.

- one of the smartest things for estate planning is having JOINT BANK ACCOUNTS.  If the parent adds the child's name to the parent's accounts, then you can do the banking for them, pay expenses, and not have to probate things as much, because if one person passes on, the account still stays active.  Again, if they add you to the account and you get your own bank card/cheque book - maybe let the parent hang on to it so they don't worry any transactions are done without their consent. Soon enough, they will hand it to you and say 'could you pay this bill and deposit this for me and bring back $40 cash dear' while they watch Wheel of Fortune.

- funerals arrangements. This is more about listening than asking. If they talk about going to a funeral, ask them about what it was they liked.  They may say something like 'I would never want to be cremated' or 'I would love to be sprinkled in the ocean' or 'I don't want a service at all'... and you have your marching orders. You don't have to 'what if' 20 times or get specific details unless they want to give them. If they say 'I like Old Jerry's tombstone' - take that as a suggestion. After my mother passed, I found an old funeral service paper with two passages underlined - the exact ones we had just used for her service the week before... so it is good to know what a person likes.  If they say 'it doesn't matter', then it shouldn't matter to you more.  If they are a very specific person, they won't mind writing it down or dictating it to you.

Last year at this time, both my parents were rather healthy and active - and they spent a lot of the winter cooped up because they couldn't get out to do their affairs.  In the spring we arranged all this and it has been such good timing as they were only hospitalized in the summer.  A simple conversation with you - or perhaps a trusted person in their lives they can bounce the ideas off of - and you'll be saving everyone a lot of stress in the long run.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Conservative or Republican Party I Could Vote For

A Conservative or Republican Party I Could Vote For

                It might surprise some people to hear that I have voted conservative in the past but have recently given up on them since they are not a sensible option anymore. If you look at the PC leadership candidates of 2016, you can see why. People who want to bring back the marriage and abortion debate, or eliminate all corporate taxes are simply out of touch with the 21st Century and the voters they will need to face. Voters may turn to them out of spite for the more liberal parties, but it isn’t out of genuine respect. I won’t even gaze at that clown car of a party to the south of us.

                To me, I have more respect for a simpler view of the world now. A conservative doesn’t waste or destroy their heritage, whether it is in our democratic institutions or our natural resources. A conservative doesn’t preach deregulation of industry while increasing the regulations on personal matters. It is just simpler, more conservative even, to get everyone working at fair wages and living healthy lives. An old-stock Canadian like myself does not worry about new Canadians coming in, because we know that our peaceful country is the best proselytizer there is. It makes no sense that we have our best and brightest suffering under crippling student debt which makes them delay building the strong life they want to live. A conservative considers someone locked in a jail to be an expensive waste of a person and metal bars. A conservative doesn’t take pride in a military that is hung out to dry on a discount clothesline.

                Libertarians, while committed to a high ethic, do not have the pragmatism of a conservative who understands the checks and balances of our world, especially the dark side of human nature. Without appropriate restraints, the strong always will brutalize the weak. Social activists, while committed to their own high ethic, fight for their causes, moving us forward; unfortunately, they often don’t think of the impacts all around, and don’t build consensus that would actually move their causes forward sooner.  Banning fossil fuels is just as silly as having no restrictions; pricing carbon emissions so that the next generation of energy will be more economically feasible is how real progress will be made.

                Tories used to have the motto of ‘God, King, and Country’…. But nowhere did they mention Corporations. Business is a fundamental necessity of life, the engine of our prosperity, but that doesn’t mean all our collective good should be subservient to profiteering. Sensible taxes, fair to all, encourage business to re-invest their profits in innovation, and dissuade concentration of wealth at the top. Tickle-down doesn’t trickle enough, and the middle class cannot be the piggy bank for the government while yet buying the good and services the businesses need to sell.

                Instead of a complex web of services and gaps and programs, it is just simpler to make sure everyone is given basic food and shelter. In the long run, it will just be cheaper. We need to not be enslaved to travelling peddlers who threaten to close up shop and move when faced with sensible taxes. If your room-mate move out because he won’t pay his part of the bills, you don’t have to buy his stuff anymore. In fact, taxes should be lower for those Canadian companies who produce and stay here.

                If we are to run the country like a business, we shouldn’t run it like a business in receivership. Why sell off the assets we’ve worked to build. We have a deficit, so we need to raise revenue, not sell the panelling off the house.

                We have a great country here, and all are welcome who wish to contribute and celebrate with us. We already cherry-pick the best of those who wish to come to live here. If later we discover anyone who has criminal or terrorist intent, justice will find you and you will be incarcerated or asked if you would prefer to live elsewhere. A lot of our citizens are doing great, but a lot aren’t. We need everyone to pull together for the next century, because it is just easier and cheaper if everyone is equally sharing in our riches, both physical and social.

                In our rapidly changing country, these are the conservative, moderate, sensible principles I could vote for. The radical reactionary right is swinging back before their inevitable dissolution – but a moderate party can be the long-term guiding hand of our nation.