Illness Affects Families
Every family has its own ways of organizing its business to meet their needs, but when someone becomes seriously ill, the usual roles and routines change. Other family members may need to take on roles previously handled by the person who is now ill. These changes can cause stress and worry, particularly if the person feels unprepared for the job he or she will take on. The person who is ill may also be very concerned about how the family will be able to cope and manage these tasks.
The following are some things that people can do to prepare their families for the changes that lie ahead. These preparations will help to lessen some of the worry and anxiety.
Important Papers and Records
Make a list of the following items and let someone in your family know where you are keeping the list and the items on it:
- Monthly payments such as mortgage, telephone, hydro, gas, cable, groceries
- Name and address of banks, account numbers, safety deposit box numbers and location of keys
- Insurance policies
- Descriptions of assets and liabilities
- Income tax information
- Wills, birth certificates, and social insurance numbers of family members
Inform another responsible adult about family finances, especially any outstanding debts and when, where, and how accounts are paid. Ideally, you will have an enduring Power of Attorney executed.
The enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document giving the person of your choosing the right to handle your financial (and some legal) affairs. The enduring clause ensures that your designated Power of Attorney can continue to handle your financial affairs even if you are no longer capable of giving direction or making decisions. Consult a lawyer or a notary public for assistance in designating a Power of Attorney.
Your Power of Attorney should know about benefits available to the family through government programs (e.g. Canada Pension, Employment Insurance, Veteran’s Affairs), or through employee union or private programs, insurance policies or contracts.
Making a Will
Every adult should have a valid, current, and properly drawn-up will. A valid will is a written document that includes the following:
- Signature of the person who made it
- Signatures of at least two adult witnesses who are not listed as beneficiaries of the estate (people who will benefit from the estate)
- Statements explaining what the person wants done with his or her property
- Clarification that the will takes effect after the person dies
For information about making a will, you may wish to purchase a copy of Wills for British Columbia: Have You Made Your Will? Complete Kit, available at bookstores throughout British Columbia. Alternatively, you may wish to consult a notary public or a lawyer for assistance. It is essential that someone close to you knows where your will is located.
Canada Pension Plan & Income Tax
If you have an extended illness and have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan you may be eligible for disability benefits. For information, call your local Canada Pension Plan office. If you are a wage-earner and become a dependent, a number of tax exemptions may be claimed (e.g. another dependent, increased medical and child care costs, etc.)
Insurance Policies/Employee Benefit Plans
Check for clauses on income protection, disability or extended/long-term illness benefits. Some policies provide coverage for home nursing care, support workers, equipment/drug costs, etc. Alternatively, some benefits are offered through the B.C. Palliative Care Drug and Benefit Program. Check with your doctor or home care nurse to determine if you are eligible for this program.
Funeral Arrangements: Pre-planning
Pre-planning the details of a funeral or memorial gathering allows an opportunity for the individual to make his or her preferences known. It also removes the burden of decision making from family members at a time when they are experiencing great stress. A number of local funeral homes and services are listed in the Resources section. Spiritual or religious advisors may also help you with this planning.
Guidelines for Children
It is advisable to appoint someone to be responsible for children should both parents die. After they have consented to act as guardians, those appointed would be named in your will.
Where to Find Us
Peace Arch Hospice Society
15435 - 16A Avenue, South Surrey
British Columbia, Canada V4A 1T2