My name is Mark Goodfield. Welcome to The Blunt Bean Counter ™, a blog that shares my thoughts on income taxes, finance and the psychology of money. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant and a partner with a National Accounting Firm in Toronto. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are written solely in my personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which I am affiliated. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humor/sarcasm. You've been warned. Please note the blog posts are time sensitive and subject to changes in legislation or law.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Believe it or Not - We Are Not Immortal

Last week, Adam Mayers of The Toronto Star reviewed my book, Let’s Get Blunt About Your Financial Affairs. Thank you Adam for your review and in particular, your discussion about my views on inheritances.

Adam interviewed me for this article and one of the questions he asked me was "if there was anything I had learned or anything that I wanted to say about my book". I told him that while the book had an income tax bent, I had come to understand that an underlying theme of the book was to ensure that you put your financial house in order.

I also told Adam that while writing my speech for my book launch, I realized how much of my talk revolved around our denial of our mortality and the massive impact that it had financially and emotionally upon our families.

Think about it. Many of us do not want to accept our eventual death. The net result is either we avoid preparing a will (a 2012 survey by Lawpro says 56% of Canadians do not have a will) or we procrastinate updating our will, even when we have significant life events. I’ve seen this pattern repeated first-hand over the last 25 years.

When people finally prepare a will, many do not even inform their executor of their appointment. Even fewer provide the executor with a list of assets and where they are located. Why make the executor’s job easier if we are never going to die?

Finally, since we don’t want to consider our death, we often leave our spouse's in the financial dark, at a time of immense distress, because they have no idea what assets the family has and where they are located. Over the years, I have written several times on this subject and how you should stress-test your finances.

Ensure your spouse and loved ones are prepared and avoid hardship by providing them with the following financial roadmap:
  • Location of your will and the name of the lawyer who drafted the will
  • Name of your Executor(s)
  • List of assets
  • List of insurance policies
  • List of digital assets including passwords
  • Contact list for accountant, insurance agent, investment advisor, banker etc.
  • Existence of accounts, safety deposits, safes
Ask yourself, could your spouse move forward seamlessly from a financial perspective if you passed away today? If your answer is no, get to work on preparing an Information Checklist/Estate Organizer.

As John F Kennedy said in a 1963 address to American University, “in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal”.

This site provides general information on various tax issues and other matters. The information is not intended to constitute professional advice and may not be appropriate for a specific individual or fact situation. It is written by the author solely in their personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which they are affiliated. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and neither the author nor the firm with which the author is associated shall accept any liability in respect of any reliance on the information contained herein. Readers should always consult with their professional advisors in respect of their particular situation.