Are you ready?

March 2, 2011 | Viewpoints | Number 5
Kevin Davidson |

On Aug. 13, 2010, after one month in the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Alta., my dad died of mesotheliomameso, cancer of the outer lining of the lung. Although Dad had experienced shortness of breath for the past year, it never stopped him from maintaining a busy social and family life. He even attended a Calgary Stampede breakfast the day he entered the hospital.

Although his diagnosis and death—one week apart—were quick and unexpected, his preparation was not. Many years before, Mom and Dad had intentionally completed a will and incapacity documents. They updated everything a few months before Dad’s passing. Dad must have known something was up. My brother found the documents along with a list of Dad’s investments on top of his desk.  

Dad’s lawyer did an excellent job in setting up his will. It is clear and concise, and so far we have not needed any legal advice. However, we are retaining the services of a tax accountant. By the way, everyone has a will: Either the one you or your lawyer complete, or the one the court completes for you.

Even though Dad and Mom’s assets were jointly owned, application still had to be made to remove his name from the business, house, vehicle, investments, bank accounts and other papers. Also, accounts set up in Dad’s name alone were transferred to my mom or closed.

Each financial institution has its own privacy and security rules. The process has been as easy as a five-minute telephone conversation or as complex as having to provide a notarized copy of the will, a notarized copy of the death certificate, a letter of indemnity and a letter of direction.

If my dad had not understood the value of a will, it would have meant higher stress, more time away from my family and work, unnecessary legal and court costs, and even the real possibility of despising Dad for not being properly prepared.

Dad’s sudden entrance into the Lord’s presence has shown me that death is unpredictable and even unexpected. You realize you’re never fully prepared. Dad left me with a wonderful legacy of generosity, and spiritual and financial responsibility.

Do you have an up-to-date will? Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC)encourages you to review your will every three to five years, or whenever there is a life change such as buying or selling a business, a marriage or a move. Is your immediate family aware of your future wishes? Keeping them updated lends itself, hopefully, to cooperation and unity later on.

Have you been asked to look after anyone’s estate, children, financial affairs or healthcare decisions? If so, request a copy of the will and incapacity documents, and know how to access the originals. Ask questions, discuss expectations.

Not sure where to start or whom to ask? Contact the MFC stewardship consultant closest to you, visit our website at http://MennoFoundation.ca or call us toll-free at 1-800-772-3257. We are available to assist you as you contemplate and plan your end-of-life arrangements.

Kevin Davidson is a stewardship consultant at the Calgary, Alta., office of Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC). For stewardship education and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit Mennofoundation.ca.

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