Elder Care Planning and Financial Life Transitions

Elder Care Planning and Financial Life Transitions

With the exception of divorce and funeral arrangements, discussing long-term or elder home care planning tends to be one of the most contentious or avoided issues a family faces.

But, yet, such planning shouldn’t be an eleventh-hour decision as mistakes can happen and opportunities are lost.

Having a conversation about long-term care and elder care issues takes time and should be done step-by-step, in an orderly way, and with compassion.

Unfortunately, long-term care and other elder care issue are topics of discussion often avoided or put off by families because they tend to be considered too emotional and touchy end-of-life decisions.

However, studies have shown the risk of needing long-term care increases with age.  A person at age 65 has a 70 percent chance of requiring some type of long-term care during the remainder of her or his lifetime.  Yet, too many families have no plan in place.

Therefore, planning in advance is important not only for legal documents to be current but also for copies of these documents – as well as other key information relating to identification, health, and finances – to be in the possession of a family member willing to act as an advocate.

Choosing a family member for the task is one of the biggest obstacles many face as some adults, in particular parents, find this difficult, especially if they’re not comfortable discussing their financial affairs with children or perceived “outsiders”.

At a minimum, parents should tell a trusted child (or another advocate) who their financial advisors are – insurance agent, investment advisor, banker, lawyer – about the location of financial accounts.

As a certified Elder Planning Counsellor (EPC), I can provide a checklist that should be looked at as navigation for getting you where you need to go in planning for the longevity trend many are or will be facing in their coming years.  

“A good financial plan is a road map that shows us exactly how the choices we made today will affect our future.”
Alexa von Tokel, CEO/LearnVest U.S.

There are four categories or checklists for planning and what follows are some of the key information that should be organized, up to date, and easily available to the person who will be handling the affairs of a loved one.

Included in this category are wills, trusts, powers of attorney, life insurance and annuity policies, investments, bank accounts, credit cards, and pre-paid funeral arrangements.

Health Care:
Included in this category are living will, health care power of attorney, do not resuscitate order, health insurance policies, living benefit, and long-term care insurance policies, list of medications, and end of life wishes.

Parent’s Advisors:
Included in this category are financial advisor, lawyer, accountant and/or tax advisor, doctors, and religious counsel.

Included in this category are driver’s license, insurance cards, phone numbers of friends, safe deposit box, marriage records, military records, and copies of birth and death certificates.

It is wise to be aware of your assets as over time they have probably grown and become much more complicated than in your younger years.

Once you’ve completed an estate plan, you’re not done.  Why?  because things will happen day in and day out that will have a direct impact on your estate plan. In other words, the estate plan that you create today will be the perfect plan for you and your loved ones at this given point in your lives.

But next week, or next month, or next year your life will go through a multitude of experiences, both good and bad, that will make today’s perfect estate plan not so perfect tomorrow.

If estate planning were just cold, hard numbers, it wouldn’t be one of the financial tasks that people avoid the most – even before filing their income taxes!  Not only does creating an estate plan force you to confront your own mortality, but it also forces you to decide who gets your assets, whether all heirs should be treated equally and who will play the key roles in settling your estate. 

Even if you don’t want to provide specifics, it’s important for your heirs to understand the framework of your planning.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”
Alan Lakein / U.S author on time management

It cannot be emphasized enough that the most important part of your estate is a valid, up-to-date will.  If you die without a will, the government simply distributes your estate according to provincial law.  Not according to your wishes.  Only with a will can you ensure that your wishes are clearly laid out.

The best way to create a will is to work with an expert.  Many do-it-yourself will packages leave details open to legal interpretation, so it pays to get good advice from your advisors.

Overseen by the Canadian Initiative for Elder Planning Studies Inc. the EPC designation covers the financial planning concerns of seniors, such as caregiving, housing, and end-of-life planning, including legacy planning.

Also, as a Certified Executor Advisor (CEA) Rachel has the training to get you through the daunting paperwork and timelines during one of the most difficult times in our lives, the loss of someone we love.


At Desmarais Financial Services we help you successfully manage your financial life transition by re-establishing the perspective required to make sound financial and life decisions.  These decisions are based on your personal experience and integrated with facts and figures. If you have a question or concern or just want to chat, Rachel can be contacted at 519-416-1600 or email at rachel@dfsfinancial.ca.