Wills are not enough: RBC
As Canada's population ages, health and financial
directives are imperative
TORONTO, June 21, 2012 - As longevity and health issues
become more common, a will does not address potential incapacity
and other related health issues. For many Canadians, health
directives and a general Power of Attorney (POA) or other
financial directives will likely be needed before your will
is invoked. According to the third annual RBC
Myths and Realities poll, most retired boomers (81 per
cent) have a current will, only half (49 per cent) have a
health directive and even fewer (39 per cent) have a current
According to Census 2011, the number of seniors aged 65 and
over increased 14 per cent between 2006 and 2011 and during
that same timeframe, the number of centenarians, those aged
100 years or older, increased 25.7 per cent, the second-highest
growth rate of all age groups, after the 60 to 64 age group
(up 29 per cent). This puts the number of Canadians over age
65 close to five million and the number of centenarians at
almost six thousand - the highest ever.
"Financial planning is not complete without planning
for potential unforeseen health issues or incapacity,"
said Suzanne Michaud, senior advisory counsel, RBC Law Group.
"Your plan should address your wishes relating to personal
care and include the right documents in place to appoint someone
to act upon your behalf for both property and personal care
A health directive refers to a written document that is used
to express your health care wishes if you are no longer able
to communicate them and also appoints someone to make your
personal care decisions if you cannot. Similarly, a general
POA or other financial directive refers to a written document
that grants one or more persons the responsibility of managing
your financial affairs. For property, you may stipulate when
it comes into effect and if it should continue to be valid
if you become incapable of acting for yourself. It is also
important to consider what happens if your appointed decision
maker passes away or becomes incapacitated.
Michaud notes that Canadians recognize the reality of aging
and health concerns but they are not taking action while they
are young enough to address this reality without undue pressure
or failing health. Retired boomers indicate that the top challenges
in retirement will be changes
to health, either their own (74 per cent) or their spouse's
(50 per cent). One-in-three (33 per cent) retired boomers
has experienced a significant
health event or decline in their family's health in the
past year and 41 per cent think they'll have to provide
care giving to another adult at some point.
"Thinking about documents that deal with your potential
incapacity is not an easy task, but there are resources available
to help you," advised Michaud. "You don't want to
leave family members and friends with the burden of not knowing
what to do or how to fulfill your wishes at a very emotional
time. There is also a potential for disputes among your loved
ones as to what your wishes are or who is best suited to carry
them out. Simply stated, it's much better to plan ahead."
RBC provides the following tips to help you get started:
- Be honest with yourself: It is important to honestly
evaluate which family member or friend or combination is
best suited to the task. If there is no one, or there is
the likelihood for disputes, consider appointing a trust
company or an alternative.
- Seek professional advice: A capable legal professional
such as a lawyer or notary can explain your choices and
make certain that the documents you sign reflect your wishes,
are legally valid and provide for alternate decision makers.
- Act before it may be too late: If you leave these
decisions to the last minute, you may be faced with a serious
illness or deteriorating condition. Your mental condition
may be questioned if a family member disagrees with your
choices or medication may interfere with your judgment,
leaving the documents open to a potential legal challenge.
You don't want to be making these choices under time pressure.
- Being older should not be the guide: Some of us
are procrastinators, but waiting until you are "older"
is a gamble because you do not know what the future may
hold. An unforeseen event can affect your ability to make
your own decisions and manage your own affairs at any age.
You may have a family depending on you and there will need
to be access to your funds, not only for your own care but
for their support and care as well.
About the RBC Myths & Realities Poll
The third Annual RBC Retirement Myths & Realities Poll,
which examines Canadians' expectations and experiences in
retirement, was conducted by Ipsos Reid from February 24 to
March 12, 2012. For this survey, a national sample of 2,833
adults aged 50 and over with household assets of at least
$100,000 from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed
online. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling
and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure
that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual
Canadian population according to Census data. Quota samples
with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results
that are intended to approximate a probability sample. An
unweighted, probability sample of this size, with 100 per
cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error
of ±2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin
of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings
of the survey population. All sample surveys and polls may
be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited
to, coverage error and measurement error.
About RBC's financial planning advice,
resources and interactive tools
The RBC Advice Centre offers free online advice, resources
and tools regarding retirement and estate
planning. In addition, the RBC
Your CareGiving Planner produces a customized report to
help caregivers - as well as those needing care - be better
prepared as changing health conditions affect the level of
care required. RBC's myFinanceTracker,
a comprehensive online financial management tool, offers all
personal RBC online
banking clients the ability, at no cost, to create a set
budget and track their spending habits..
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For more information, please contact:
Suzanne Willers, RBC Corporate Communications, 416 974-2727,
Kate Yurincich, RBC Corporate Communications, 416 974-1031,