June 2012
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School's out....

 

 

Greetings!

  

The daily wake up routine, the hustle of the morning, the drive here and there..  These are almost things of the past, as the last school bell will ring soon.  Taking a summer break from studies is a welcome respite for so many this month.

 

It is also a great reminder of how you can never stop learning enough and keeping abreast of current events.  The market moves around us, as sure as the winds will change.  Keep your investment cap on tight and let us work with you to keep your investments moving in the right direction.

 

 

Regards, 

Peter, Richard, Claudio and Joanna

Six-step money talk every couple should have 

 by Alison Griffiths - Moneyville.ca, May 2012

 

Spring is well sprung and perhaps, in this season of love and marriage, you have a honey. If so, now is a good time to talk about money. A couple of years ago, when speaking on this topic I asked the audience for a show of hands if they had ever checked their credit report. At least half of them had.

 

Then, I asked how many had shared that credit report with their main squeeze. A handful of digits were hesitantly raised. One woman in the front row made a face and said, "Oh my god, that's so intimate!"

 

And she's right. Money is a very intimate topic and while many couples have no trouble talking about what they'd love to buy or how life would change if they won the lottery, getting down to everyday dollars and cents is a lot harder.

 

Happily, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is taking love and money very seriously. I applaud this step as I've maintained for years that financial difficulties are a leading cause of marital stress. You don't need to know anything about finances or how to start the money conversation because the FCAC has laid down a yellow brick road for couples to follow in its online "Life Event" series.

 

Before you get down to the minutiae of who buys the groceries and who pays the utility bills, take a look your joint big picture. Inspired by the FCAC couples project, I've come up with six steps that will help define each person financially and lay the groundwork for short, medium and long-term planning.

 

If it all seems a little daunting and, well, intimate, why not tackle each topic between periods of the playoffs - they go on forever anyway so you'll have lots of time.

 

1. Who are you? It's true confessions time. Talk about how you each behave with money, what worries you and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Quite frankly, many people aren't very good at self-assessment when it comes to money but once you start exploring the topic as a team, aspects of your financial personality you ignore, avoid or simply have never thought about will come to the fore.

 

2. What do you owe and own? Many couples go into a relationship and even get married without a clue about their partner's assets and liabilities. It doesn't help a relationship to discover an ancient student loan, deeply in arrears, just as you're negotiating a mortgage for your first home together.

 

List out every debt including loans, credit cards and anything owed to family or friends. Then detail assets including all bank and investment accounts as well as anything such as art, jewelry or antique cars. Don't forget to include workplace pension plans and benefit packages, as they are notable assets.

 

3. Share credit reports. If you've never examined your report and don't know your credit score, this is an excellent time to repair that omission. Aside from anything else, you might find closed accounts or discharged debts that are still listed as active. You can then correct the error with the credit-reporting agency.

 

Another bonus is that if one partner has a poor credit history, the other person can help make a plan to improve it for the future. Of course, the trick here is not to boggle openly at debts that have been hanging around since the Arc or be judgmental about stupid mistakes, such as that time-share your best beloved purchased after a few too many tequila shooters and has lately "forgotten" to make payments.  

 

4. What's the cash flow? I am constantly amazed to discover couples that don't know each other's gross income, let alone disposable income at month's end. Lay out the monthly after-tax income and list all monthly obligations. Don't forget annual or semi-annual payments such as insurance. This exercise will lead you toward creating a couple's budget, which is a far more efficient way of handling money than trying to stick two individual budgets together.

 

5. Establish your roles. One of the most difficult aspects of coupledom, especially for those who have been single for a long time, is deciding how to manage joint finances. It isn't really important how you do it but rather that you have a discussion, come to an understanding and stick to it until you decide together on a change. Some couples throw everything into one pot; others keep their money separate and split up the bills.

 

6. Dream. We all do it and, chances are, those visions dancing in your head cost money. Whether it is being a stay-at-home parent, bicycling around the world, going back to school, starting a business, living on a farm or retiring at 45, cast such dreams in your honey's direction. All kinds of wonderful things can come of this exercise including discovering that the love of your life shares in them.

 

But even if that isn't the case your dreams and goals should form the basis of a financial plan together.

Health tips for Canadians travelling to the U.S.

by Dynamic Advisor, Spring & Summer Edition 2012

 

A safe trip starts with planning ahead.  Whether it's a short trip to the United States, or an extended stay in a foreign country, it's vital that your clients plan ahead to protect themselves and their health.  An important part of this includes taking a moment to document the details of their trip and sharing it with friends or family.

 

Keeping loved ones in the know

The Snapshots Traveller's Healthcare Form* is a convenient way for your clients to share information with their loved ones before travelling abroad, and it is the first step they can take in protecting their health when away from home. It captures important information such as the name of their primary health care provider in Canada, a list of medications and medical conditions, contact information for where they will visit, and the emergency phone number of their out-of-country health insurance provider.

 

The first thing your clients should do is designate a close friend or family member - one who will remain in Canada for the duration of their time abroad - as an emergency contact. Once they've completed the form with as much detail as possible, they should make two copies - one to bring with them on vacation, and the other to give to their designated emergency contact. Where possible, it's a good idea for your clients to also have an emergency contact at each of their destinations, and record the name and address of the nearest hospital.

 

Travel health insurance

When travelling abroad - whether it's for a few hours or for an extended stay - it's important that your clients have adequate health and travel insurance to protect them should anything go wrong. Most provincial health care plans will cover out-of-country health care costs only to the extent that they would be covered in Canada.

 

While all hospitals must accept and treat emergencies - regardless of a person's ability to pay - visitors abroad will be charged by the hospital for all services rendered.

 

You may want to encourage your clients to purchase supplementary health and travel insurance from a private insurance company to provide additional coverage should anything happen to them during their absence.  The types of coverage vary greatly, so it's a good idea for your clients to shop around and to find the best rates and coverage.

 

Medications

Prescription drugs - used for legitimate medical purposes - can come under scrutiny when your clients are travelling abroad, and your clients should properly prepare their medications to ensure they're available when travelling. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends keeping medications in their original containers, and bringing them in carry-on luggage. It's also recommended that travellers carry proof of the need for the medication (a note from a doctor explaining the reasons for the medication would be suitable). Also,t hey should carry a copy of the prescription, listing both the generic and trade names of the drug.

 

In general, the US allows visitors to bring a 90-day supply of medication with them, but only if the drug is not available in the United States. Most health insurance providers allow for only a 90-day supply of prescription medication anyway, so if your clients require a longer duration of their medication supply, they should speak with their health insurance provider at least four to six weeks in advance of their trip to request this.  It's important to note that the availability of the vacation supply of medication varies by health insurance provider as well as by the drug type being requested.

 

If possible, your clients should avoid having prescriptions refilled in a foreign country.  Their doses may not be the same, and they may not have the same regulatory standards that we have in Canada.

 

* If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the Snapshots Traveller's Healthcare Form, feel free to send us an email or call us within regular business hours. We would be happy to provide you with one.

12 consequences if you die without a will

By Jim Yih, Retirehappyblog.ca

  

There are some very important considerations before thinking that you do not need a will. Take a moment to consider these 12 consequences of dying without a will. 

 
1. Without a will, you do not have an executor. Therefore, someone must be appointed to act as an administrator of your estate. This means potential delay, expense, frustration, and even loss.

2. There is no opportunity to select guardians for any minor children you may have. This means that the Public Guardian (the government) may be involved in your children's personal lives. Any parent knows how important it is to make sure that your children are in the hands of someone you want.

3. There is no opportunity to provide for burial preferences. In a study by Lawpro, more than half of Canadians (56%) do not have a will. Coincidentally, 60% do not have any funeral arrangements. Do you know what your loved ones want for their burial preferences? It's a tough topic to discuss so outlining your preferences in your will may be the perfect solution.

4. Your children may not receive the amount you wanted them to receive and there is no opportunity to provide a trust for them. This means that when they reach the age of majority they receive all of the funds whether or not you have chosen that option at that point in their lives. 

5. The Public Trustee is involved in the administration of your children's share if they are minors. This means the government will decide your child's financial future. The government will also take a portion of your estate, as their fee.

6. Certain assets that you may have wanted to be kept for your family's security or for investment purposes may have to be sold. Make sure the estate is properly funded. Life insurance can be a great method to inject liquid funds into the estate.
 
7. In the event of a common disaster (where your whole immediate family passes away), your estate may go to a relative that you may have never spoken to, or don't even like. Instead, you may make provisions to create a legacy through charitable gifting.
 
8. Common law relationships or same sex relationships are not recognized under the Intestate Succession Act. This means that your significant other may not receive anything from your estate upon your death.
 
9. You are unable to take advantage of tax savings and save money on lawyers and court costs following your death. I'm always amazed at how little a will costs to set up in comparison to how much legal fees can cost when there are problems with an estate.
 
10. Do you want your estate to go to your grandchildren if their parents predecease you? Only a will can properly indicate what is to happen in the event a family member dies.
 
11. A family business or heirloom may not be able to stay in your family, and it may be necessary to liquidate the assets. When there is something of significant value like a business, it is so important to plan ahead to avoid potential conflicts.
 
12. Ultimately, without a will, you are unable to exclude or include beneficiaries. You must depend on the law and the government to decide the economic fate of your family and loved ones.

So, here are twelve potential problems that can occur if you do not have a will. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. The bottom line is you can avoid a lot of these potential problems if you simply plan ahead. A will is the most critical, but often neglected part of a sound estate plan. What's surprising is that the rewards from preparing a will are many, and tremendously valuable. So why do so many of us put it off? Hopefully with a little awareness those of you who do not have a will, will start thinking about getting one.

Issue: 18
Financial Markets
In This Issue
Six-step money talk very couple should have
Health tips for Canadians travelling to the U.S.
12 consequences if you die without a will
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Peter Bailey
Worldsource Financial Management
272 Lawrence Avenue West, Suite 203
Toronto, Ontario M5M 4M1