In 2016, Statistics Canada stated that the life expectancy at birth was 79.1 years for men and 83.4 years for women. So, if you are a woman, chances are that you will outlive your partner.
Let’s look at a few things you can do to prepare in advance to alleviate some of the burden on those left behind as well as to decrease any stress or anxiety you may have around this.
Do you have an estate plan? Do you have a current Last Will and Testament? Have you designated your Powers of Attorney? Your Executors?
There are many factors to consider around this topic, so it is best to consult with your lawyer, financial planner and accountant.
If your partner normally takes care of all the finances such as investments, paying of bills, keeping the cheque book up to date, etc., then you need to bring yourself up to speed.
Work with your partner and gather together all the information you need to know. Make a list of all your assets including insurance policies, bank accounts, investment accounts, and properties, etc.
An Advance Care Directive
Consider developing an individual Advance Care Directive also known as a Living Will.
This is a legal document that provides instructions to your spouse and family members as to your desires regarding your medical treatment should you no longer be able to express informed consent. This is a very important document as it will alleviate the stress on your family members in making the ‘right’ decision on your behalf.
It’s also important to name a ‘durable powers of attorney for healthcare’ you trust. This is someone who will step in and make decisions for you based on what you have outlined in your Advance Care Directive should you become incapacitated and can no longer speak for yourself.
Ensure that the person you have named agrees with taking on this responsibility and they know what will be required of them and understand your wishes. You don’t want the person pulling the plug if you have explicitly said that you want life-sustaining measures to be put in place. Conversely, you don’t want your life to be unnecessarily prolonged if you expressed that life-sustaining measures be withheld or discontinued. Speak with your medical professional if you are unsure about what you need to consider.
It is important to discuss your desires for your end-of-life medical care with your partner and your children while you are healthy and before a health care crisis.
Speak with your lawyer and your health care practitioner for more detailed information.
Consider making funeral pre-arrangements. This will give clear directions as to your wishes, as well as help decrease the stress level for your partner/spouse and family at what is always a very stressful time. Contact a funeral home in your community.