by Sean Cooper.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and while death is one of the least romantic topics to discuss with your partner (right up there with signing a prenup), it’s also important since 56% of Canadian adults don’t have a will.
So, how do you start the discussion about a will with your partner without ruining the mood? Timing is everything. While we don’t recommend discussing it over a candlelit dinner on Valentine’s Day, it’s better to start the discussion sooner rather than later, since you never know the surprises – good and bad – life will bring.
Here are 5 questions to ask your partner about death.
1. What does your partner want to happen to their body when they die?
While we don’t recommend popping this question to your partner on Valentine’s Day, it’s still an important question to ask. It used to be as simple as being buried or cremated, but today there are more options than ever. For example, if your partner cares a lot about the environment, they may want their ashes inside a biodegradable urn. Or your partner may want to be buried in a burlap sack. You’ll want to choose an option that is in line with their wishes and within your family’s budget.
2. Who should be in charge of your partner’s healthcare and financial decisions if they’re incapacitated?
What if your partner was unable to make decision on their own about their health and financial affairs? Without a Powers of Attorney for Personal Care and Property, the government will decide who is responsible for these important decisions.
While health decisions are important, so are financial decisions. Without someone to look after your partner’s finances, their credit could be damaged, not to mention their home (the home that you’re living with them in) could go into foreclosure.
Don’t let this happen to your partner. Help your partner choose someone to look after their health and finances today. It could be you, it could be someone else. Help your partner choose someone that they trust and put it in writing.
3. Who will look after your children should your partner and you die at the same time?
Do you have younger children at home? Then you’ll want to make sure they’re taken care of if something were to happen to your partner and you. Sometimes life happen. Imagine your partner and you are driving home from the movie theatres one night, on way home to pick up your kids from childcare, when you’re involved in a head-on collision and killed instantly. By appointing a guardian ahead of time, your partner and you can help ensure your kids are in good hands when you’re not around.
4. What end-of-life options would your partner like?
When your partner is nearing the end of their life, do you know what end-of-life options they’d prefer? Under Canadian law, there are several options, including palliative care, do not resuscitate orders and refusal or withdrawal of treatment. Using Willful, your partner is able to choose what they’d like you to do around pain management if they’re in a persistently vegetative state or unable to speak for themselves.
When your partner spells out their end of-of-life options, you’ll be able to choose a treatment that’s consistent with their wishes.
5. How would your partner like their assets divided in the event of their death?
Unless your partner has a will, the government will divide their assets according to the letter of the law. It may be according to your partner’s wishes, but it might not be.
And with divorce more common these days, it can further complicates matters. If your partner and you are only living common-law and your partner is separated from their former partner and god forbid, something were to happen to them, it can create a legal nightmare. All of this could have been avoided if your partner had simply taken the time to create a will.