Today in Canada there are over 500,000 people living with dementia and the Alzheimer society of Canada expects that number to climb to as many as 937,000 by the year 2031, just 11 years from now. This number is staggering and brings forward the need to consider what you should do to ensure that your financial well-being is taken care of beyond your mental capability. Generally speaking, I would say that the financial services industry has done a fair job of protecting families from the death of a family member through solutions including life insurance, although the argument can definitely be made that Canadians are underserviced for this event as well. What is certain is that there are not enough people planning for the more imminent risk of incapacity. Before I get into what can be done, I think it’s important that we recognize the signs that someone might be in the early stages of dementia. Some of which include:
Having trouble with basic math
Forgetting previous instructions
Increased difficulty in filling out forms
Changes in personality and even appearance
As a financial professional I am in a key position to recognize some of these symptoms when I work with my clients and I think that for any advisors reading this it’s important that you take note as well. The question then becomes what do you do when you do recognize symptoms?
As an individual looking to protect yourself, one of the things I am recommending to clients today is that we have a trusted contact person on file for them. I often will ask clients “if something were to have happened to you yesterday, who would you want me to phone today?” This trusted person should be an adult that you trust, maybe a family member or a close friend that you trust with your personal information.
Even with a trusted person to contact this still leaves large gaps in an advisor’s ability to service you or your family members needs. In order to close the gap completely I recommend the following as well:
Have a will – This is the foundation for most estate planning needs
Have a financial power of attorney -The power of attorney will give someone who you trust the authority to act on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. They can authorize transactions for you and ensure your money is used in your best interest. Note, there is also a power of attorney for personal care needs and the two people can be different.
Have a trusted person listed on your account as a trading authority – This will authorize someone you trust to approve trades in your accounts however it does not authorize them to withdraw funds from your account
Have a centralized place for your financial information in case something happened to you – Have a place where your account information can be located including passwords for online access etc. Once you have this place set up, make sure you provide your trusted person with the location of it and the information they need to access it.
I would say that at least 50% of people I sit down with for the first time are without wills and powers of attorney documents completed so if you are in this camp, you are not alone. However, being in the crowd is not a good excuse for not taking care of it. Planning for these events for yourself and for your family members is a lot easier while you are still capable of making these decisions and a lot less costly. I understand that this type of planning is not fun and can seem morbid and so I recommend taking care of it and getting it over with. Your family will be happy you did.
-Grant White, CIM, CFP®
Grant White is a Portfolio Manager/Investment Advisor at Endeavour Wealth Management with Industrial Alliance Securities Inc, an award-winning office as recognized by the Carson Group. Together with his partners he provides comprehensive wealth management planning for business owners, professionals and individual families.
This information has been prepared by Grant White who is a Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (iA Securities) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of iA Securities. The information contained in this newsletter comes from sources we believe reliable, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy or reliability. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned. The information contained herein may not apply to all types of investors. The Portfolio Manager can open accounts only in the provinces in which they are registered.