The future comes slowly, then all at once

We always think we’ll have more time.

More time to spend with loved ones, more time to plan for their care, and more time to have difficult conversations about finances and healthcare wishes.

“Often, people fail to plan for their parents’ care (or their own retirement) because something else feels more pressing. They think they have a bit more time before it’s urgent, but then something unexpected happens, and they’re forced to make emergency decisions,” says Dave Lee, a Senior Wealth Advisor with Scotia Wealth Management in White Rock.

Many of Dave’s clients are helping to care for aging parents — Statistics Canada says one in four people in Canada provide care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, a physical or mental disability, or an aging-related need.

“Taking on caregiver responsibilities can be stressful, time consuming, and expensive, especially for those raising children at the same time. But avoiding planning won’t prevent the challenge from coming, and making planning a priority will definitely make the years ahead more manageable.”

4 steps to ease the transition to caregiving

1. Have the talk

While they’re still capable of managing their affairs, talk to your parents about their intentions for the future. Include other family members in the conversation so that everyone is aligned with your parent’s wishes.

Learn more about their estate plan and general financial management, address family dynamics, and select a primary caregiver.

Consider having a ‘family meeting’ with your parents and all their children present. Your lawyer and/or financial advisor may have conducted many of these meetings and be a valuable resource.

2. Take a financial picture

Start by understanding your parents’ financial situation: make an inventory of bank accounts, investments, wills and other legal contracts, assets, and other information.

“In the event of an emergency, understanding your parent’s financial picture can make it easier to support them. Depending on your relationship, you may also be able to re-examine their investment strategy or plan to support them in the future,” Dave says.

3. Budget for the unexpected

How will they fund long-term care costs? Will your job allow you to take unpaid leave or adjust your work schedule to help provide care? Consider researching healthcare costs, assisted living communities, and home care services to better plan for possible outcomes.

4. Set your own caregiving goals

Remember to consider your own goals when planning for your parents’ care — when your needs are taken care of, you’re more effective at helping others.

Build contingencies into your Total Wealth Plan, incorporating your family, your business, and your future.

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Dave Lee CIM, CFP, FCSI is a Senior Wealth Advisor with Scotia Wealth Management in White Rock. He can be reached at or 604.535.4743

ScotiaMcLeod, a division of Scotia Capital Inc.



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