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. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humour/sarcasm. You've been warned. Please note the blog posts are time sensitive and subject to changes in legislation or law.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Having the "Talk" about your Will

In my blog post on Monday “Is it morbid to plan for an Inheritance,” I referenced a recent survey undertaken by the Investors Group that stated that 53% of Canadians are expecting an inheritance, with over 57% of those, expecting an inheritance greater than $100,000.

In the press release announcing the survey results there was a paragraph on “Having the talk” which discussed the lack of communication between parents and children in respect of inheritance issues and, more specifically, wills. As I noted on Monday, my most read blog post by far is now One Big Happy Family until we discuss the Will which discusses this exact topic.

In that blog post, I suggest that where a family discussion can be held without creating World War 3, the benefits of such a discussion include allowing parents to (a) explain possible perceived inequities in the will, (b) determine the wants and needs of the beneficiaries, (c) help in determining an executor, and finally (d) allow for full disclosure.

Admittedly, the one aspect lacking in my blog post was actual data in relation to what extent Canadians actually discuss their wills with their children. The Investors Group filled that void in their press release stating “the poll reveals that many families are not taking the time to discuss or deal with inheritance issues. Four-in-ten Canadians whose parents have a will (39 per cent) say they have not discussed the terms of the will with their parents while sixty-one per cent of Canadians with deceased parents who had a will, admit they never had the talk.”

While the Investors Group press release focuses on the fact most families do not have the "talk', a glass half-full view reflects that a significant number of families actually do discuss this sensitive issue. In the Investors Group press release Christine Van Cauwenberghe, Director, Tax and Estate Planning at Investors Group says "When it comes to wills in Canada, there's not enough action and certainly not enough talk," Christine goes on to say that "Broaching the sensitive topics of wills and estate details with loved ones can be daunting but having "the talk" early on can provide security for planning and make the process easier when the time comes."

Finally, in the press release, the Investors Group states “Interestingly, those who have discussed will and estate details with family members indicate it was not a difficult conversation. Three-in-ten (31 per cent) said the discussion was very easy while only three per cent said they found it very difficult.”

That the survey reflected many families are able to have this conversation without issue is heartening. However, I would speculate that these families are most likely families without a black-sheep child and their distributions are probably somewhat equal and not contentious.

Nevertheless, it is nice to have some statistics that reflect that some parents are having this difficult discussion, which allows for estate planning certainty and minimizes the issues for the executor(s) in administering the parent(s) estate.

The blogs posted on The Blunt Bean Counter provide information of a general nature. These posts should not be considered specific advice; as each reader's personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in one of the blogs.


  1. "Kids, I love you all equally, so you will be happy to hear that there won't be any problem dividing my estate, I blew it all at the Casino and gave the rest of Reverend Ike"....

    That talk?

  2. BCM- You should be on the comedy network, your skills are wasted blogging :)