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Saturday, May 25, 2013

The talk you didn't have with your parents could cost you

I'm in favour of adult children and their parents talking about the parents' legal and financial arrangements, so much so that I literally wrote a book about it. As long as the parents' privacy and independence are respected, the conversation is a valuable one for both sides.

Parents who are reluctant to have this kind of conversation should realize that they don't have to show up with bank statements and house appraisals. It's not about revealing "how much" you have, which I realize that most parents, understandably, don't want to divulge to their children. It's not about inviting the kids to take over looking after the things you are perfectly capable of doing for yourself.

The conversation is about whether you've appointed representatives under your will and power of attorney, and if so, who you've appointed and where they can find the documents. It's about giving your kids facts about where you bank and which insurance company holds  your policies so they know where to look when the time comes.

It isn't always an easy discussion and some parents simply refuse to co-operate. The New York Times recently did a story about a family in which the mother passed away without leaving any information, causing her kids to have to pay her mortgage out of their own money just to save the house. Click here to read the story.

I encourage parents to have a conversation about practical matters like wills, insurance and banking with their adult children. Your kids will be grateful for this later.


  1. This is stupid and illegal what you are posting. Why are you trying to keep these monies and assets from going back to all the people of Canada? All Canadians have the right to this money, not blood lines, we are not living in the middle ages! When someone dies all assets should return to the state to be distributed to all Canadians though federal oversight. Whatever blood line relatives get should be shared equally with all Canadians. Inheritances to blood lines are against what Canada stands for and go against fair distribution to all people everywhere, and should soon be made illegal if I have anything to do with it.

    Equal distribution of all estates to all people, not just a few people!!!!

    1. What I post is neither illegal nor stupid, but thanks for sharing your viewpoint.

      I'm curious about how this idea of returning all assets to the state when someone dies would work. To use your logic, when a man dies, his wife and children should have to leave their home so that the house can be "shared among all Canadians". A person who has worked her whole life to build a retirement nest egg would not be able to give that to her children, but would be forced to share it with people who have never bothered working a day in their lives.

      I'm not buying it, but I look forward to learning more about what you think "Canada stands for".



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