This Blog was written by: Taylor Sergeant
Often when faced with a difficult conversation it is easy to create excuses on why we should not have it. Is it a good time? Can the individual I am speaking with handle this right now? How will they react? As we have the internal dialog on how we plan the conversation it can become easy to talk yourself out of having it altogether. Add in the topic of a loved one’s incapacity and death, and most people will avoid that topic like the plague, or in 2021, Covid -19.
My name is Taylor Sergeant, and I am a Trust Officer working at Scotiatrust in Ottawa, Ontario. I act as a relationship manager for clients who have appointed Scotiatrust as their Power of Attorney for Finance or Executor of their estate. Each day, I speak to clients, their families, and eventually, their beneficiaries on how we will take care of their loved ones. I am surrounded by examples of the value of pre-planning for incapacity and death. I am grateful that these conversations took place, when their loved ones lose capacity or passed away. Because of these experiences, I look differently at incapacity planning. I see the importance; I no longer shy away from bringing up the topic.
Recently, I received an email from a long-time client with some sad news. They wanted to let me know that their sibling had fallen ill, the prognosis was late stage cancer and they only had months to live. I passed on my condolences to the client, and I offered to help in any way that I could.
When I received this email, my first thought was sympathy, what terrible news, I hope they can spend time with their sibling and support them. My next thought was, did their family member have a Power of Attorney for Finance or Personal Care, what about a will? As I thought about these questions, I wondered should I bring this up to the client, is this a good time, can they handle this right now?
I set up a call with the client and we talked about what they can do for their sibling. Fortunately, the client’s parents had taken the sibling to their lawyer several years ago and prepared all the documents. The client was relieved, they didn’t have to worry anymore, the planning was completed. The client was so grateful that their parents had this conversation.
As I reflect on this situation, and so many others, I understand that starting the conversation about incapacity and estate planning can be difficult. It is hard for many individuals to face the fact that they will not live forever, however, it is a necessary conversation to have. It’s important for you and your loves one to be prepared for the worst. When the worst happens, you will be thankful you had the conversation and planned accordingly.
I challenge everyone who reads this blog to speak to a family member or loved one about creating an incapacity and will plan, start the conversation. Speak to a lawyer about preparing the documents, understand what that person’s wishes are. At the end of the day, when the worst happens, I have yet to hear anyone say, “I regret preparing a Power of Attorney and will.”