Client Portfolio v2

Your Portfolio.

Why Use a Case Manager


It takes an executor roughly 570 hours of effort on average to settle an estate.

Care managers provide services to elders, family members, or adjunct professions that produce a variety of benefits, add value, and increase elder quality of life. Often situations happen which signal changes may be needed in an elder’s living conditions. At other times it will be apparent that a crisis is imminent. Some of the situations that signal a change may be needed include crises, deterioration in conditions, and simple life transitions.

Case managers act as co-ordinators to help clients obtain home and community care services.  They determine the nature, intensity and duration of services and provide a thorough individualized assessment that would best meet clients’ needs leading to a comprehensive plan of action.  The case manager will stay in touch with the client to arrange care services and make any adjustments necessary in the event their care needs change. Each person has different needs and resources, so case managers work closely with family members to recommend which services are best suited to their loved one.

As an Elder Planning Counselor, you are now in a better position to assist Canada’s elders.


Some of the services provided include:

  • In depth assessment of needs
  • Immediate crisis resolution
  • Home, hospital, and nursing home visits
  • Assistance with shopping, groceries, and meal preparation
  • Assistance with cleaning and maintaining home and yard
  • Home safety checks and modification
  • Home care management and co-ordination, including placement and supervision of home health aides, equipment, and supplies
  • Regular communication with family members, whether local or long distance
  • Relocation of client, permanently or temporarily, if necessary, including selection of placement and arrangements for the move
  • Respite services for local caregivers
  • Referrals for assistance with legal issues, financial management or supervision, filing insurance claims, etc.
  • Supportive counselling to clients, spouses, and their families

Government and Private case managers get referrals from many sources – among them:

  • Family Members
  • Hospital social workers
  • Outreach programs
  • Self-referrals
  • Home health agencies

The first order of business for the case manager is to do a detailed assessment of the individual involved. The case manager looks at many factors in evaluating what is the most appropriate care. Some of these factors are:

  • The elder’s ability to live alone despite a medical or a physical limitation
  • Whether they require assistance in taking medication
  • The need for around-the-clock supervision
  • The need for treating a chronic condition that does not require hospitalization but affects the elder’s day-to-day functioning
  • Whether the elder requires assistance with the activities of daily living

After completing this assessment, the case manager will look at such related issues as:

  • Eligibility for services
  • Co-ordination of services
  • Connecting clients with supplementary and community resources

Tips / Tools / Checklist

Questions to Ask a Care Manager:

  • What is your educational and working experience with older adults and families?
  • How long have you been in business? Is this a full or part-time practice?
  • What licenses do you hold that permits functioning at the independent practice level? What are your hours and availability during crises?
  • How do you provide backup or coverage during illness or vacation?
  • What are the staff’s professions and qualifications?
  • Do they work under your supervision?
  • What are the fees for services? What services do you provide directly?
  • What services are arranged through outside providers?
  • What is your role once a referral is made?

Elder Fraud and Financial Exploitation


When it comes to financial exploitation, an elder’s greatest enemy can be a family member, close friend, or trusted professional – the very people he or she should be able to count on. Elder financial abuse is the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder at risk for harm by another due to changes in physical functioning, mental functioning, or both. It encompasses a broad range of misconduct, including but not limited to, fraud, scams, undue influence by family members and trusted others, and illegal viatical settlements; abuse of power of attorney and guardianship; identity theft; Internet “phishing;” and failure to fulfill contacted heath care services. The “typical” victim of elder financial abuse is between the ages of 70 and 89, female, frail, and possibly cognitively impaired.


  • For every known case of elder financial abuse, it is estimated that 4 to 5 cases may go unreported.
  • Elder Financial Abuse is currently regarded as the third most commonly substantiated type of elder abuse, accounting for 30%-50% of all forms of elder abuse
  • The largest percentage of cases of elder financial abuse involved close associates of the victim – families, friends, caregivers, and neighbors.
  • Approximately 60% of substantiated cases of financial elder abuse involve an adult child of the elder, compared to 47% for all other forms of abuse.
  • The elder’s grandchildren and other relatives are almost equally likely to be perpetrators of financial abuse (9.2% and 9.7%, respectively)
  • A recent survey commissioned by Vancity Credit Union entitled “The Invisible Crime” suggests almost half of seniors in Vancouver and Victoria have been a victim of financial abuse


Often in cases of elder financial abuse, the elder can experience cognitive decline and increases in instances of chronic disease. This affects their decision-making abilities, and their awareness leaving them potentially susceptible to people, such as caregivers, looking to defraud, deceive, or thieve from them. The loss of a spouse or partner resulting in loneliness can often also be a large contributing factor to being susceptible and vulnerable to elder abuse.  

In addition to being financially exploited by relatives, friends, and financial professionals, elder can also be exposed to any number of professional con men. Elder victims of fraud often make for flawed witnesses due to how in many cases they are unable to supply enough detailed information to secure an arrest, let alone a conviction. This is one of the many reasons why elders are targeted by professional con artists. Many con artists also rely on prolonged legal proceedings taking a heavy toll on the elderly. Many of the victims give up, become seriously ill, or simply expire long before justice is done. Both these two factors lean towards the aid of the con artist allowing for less risk when targeting an elder, another reason why they are targeted. Isolation and loneliness can also sometimes cause elders to welcome the approaches made by telemarketers and this helps facilitate the con. Telemarketing scams run the gamut – from bogus jackpot winnings, to low cost vitamins and health care products, to get rich quick schemes, to low cost – often “free” travel deals.

Types of Abuse:

  • Physical Abuse – An act of violence causing injury or physical discomfort
  • Psychological Abuse – Any action of comment causing emotional anguish, fear or diminished self-esteem or dignity
  • Financial Abuse – Theft or exploitation of a person’s money, property or assets
  • Neglect – Inability to provide basic or persona care needs
  • Self-Neglect – Although not a traditional form of elder abuse, it is the person’s inability to provide for their own essential needs
  • Institutional Abuse – Any physical, sexual, psychological, financial abuse or neglect occurring within a facility involving active victimization, withholding or denial of individual care needs, failure to respect individual’s rights, overmedication, misuse of chemical or physical restraints and/or failure to carry out reasonable requests

Actions / Steps to Take

For non-emergent situations of elder abuse, it is useful to go through the ABUSER checklist:

  • Acknowledge? –  Be aware of changes in behaviour that cause concern
  • Barriers? – Are there barriers such as lack of mobility, dependency for daily living tasks, mental illness, disability.
  • Urgency? – Assess immediate needs and potential risk of physical harm.
  • Screen? – Assess person’s physical, emotional and mental capacity to help themselves.
  • Empower? – Inform person of their rights, resources and offer assistance
  • Refer? – Offer support or consultation from other resources.

Notable signs to look for exhibited by family members committing elder financial abuse:

  • Develop a close bond and exert influence over the older person’s decisions
  • Make a false promise or withhold information from the elder
  • Showing excessive interest and control in the elders’ assets and life
  • Suddenly acquiring expensive possessions
  • Exhibits defensive hostility during appointments or on the phone
  • Are reluctant to leave the side of the elder during appointments

Any person who suspects – elder, family member, or professionals – who suspect that financial abuse of an elder has occurred should always report it immediately. Reports can be made confidentially, and the persons reporting is protected from civil and criminal liability.

Chart: Elders themselves can take several precautions to avoid falling prey to financial abuse:

Stay OrganizedKeep belongings neatKeep track of possessionsControlling your finances by yourself
Stay InformedConsulting with an attorney about your futureIncluding power of attorneyReview your will
Stay AlertDo not leave valuables easily accessibleDo not be left out of decisions about your finances

10 Warning signs that indicate if older adults are experiencing financial abuse:

  • Unusual degree of fear of submissiveness to caregiver;
  • Isolation from family, friends, and the community, and other stable relationships. The older person is never alone or permitted to discuss finances without the caregiver present;
  • Signs of intimidation and threat by another; for instance, averting their gaze in front of another, withdrawn behavior, or disheveled appearance;
  • Missed appointments, uncharacteristic nonpayment of services (ie. “forgets” to pay bills)
  • Anxiety about personal finances, and/or lack of knowledge of their own financial status;
  • New “best friends” that the elder seems surprisingly close and attentive to someone they had just met;
  • Missing belongings or property, as the elder is deemed “forgetful”;
  • Significant changes in spending and/or making sudden changes in financial management.

Abusers may:

  • Resent expectations to provide care or support
  • Be dependent on the senior for assistance, housing or money
  • Have addictions, acquired brain injury
  • Have a history of mental illness or emotional illness or emotional problems

Victims may:

  • Be socially isolated
  • Be dependent on the abuser for care and assistance
  • Have some degree of physical impairment or incapability
  • Be physically frail, but mentally capable
  • Be widowed or living alone
  • Not appear to be vulnerable in any way

How one can help an elder avoid abuse from those closest to them:

  • Believe the older adult if they confide in you about a difficult situation
  • Listen to the older adult in a non-judgmental manner
  • Recognize abuse and neglect and speak up about it
  • Encourage the older adult to ask a professional for confidential help
  • Know where to call to get help or information
  • Respect the person’s choices
  • Ask them questions
    • Do you feel safe at home? Have you been threatened by people in your home?
    • Have you been asked to lend money to someone and don’t feel comfortable about it?
    • Have you been hit, punched, slapped, or threatened with physical harm?
    • Have you been touched in inappropriate ways? Does anyone make you feel afraid?
    • Do you get phone calls asking for your social security number, credit card information or other personal data?
  • Keeping Elders Engaged in Their Communities
    • Seniors with strong friendships and community involvement are less likely to be isolated or lonely — traits that increase an elder’s risk of being taken advantage of.
  • Keeping Elders Active
    • Elderly people in poor physical health are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of. In addition, increased dependence may lead to more caretaker stress and burnout, raising the risk of elder abuse. Physically active seniors reduce their loss of mobility and increase overall health.

The key is to keep open lines of communication with loved ones, talk to health care professionals and law enforcement when abuse is suspected, and do not delay in reaching out to the community experts to insure another person does not fall victim to abuse.

The best defence against any of the tactics used by a telemarketer is just to say, “no thank you” and hang up the phone.

Steps to determine if a telemarketer is fraudulent and how to protect oneself:

  • Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses are always happy to comply with more information about their company.
  • Always check out unfamiliar companies with provincial or territorial consumer affairs offices.
  • Obtain a salesperson’s name, and more contact information from them before completing a transaction.
  • Before investing money, find out what percentage of your money is going towards commissions.
  • Before sending money ask the salesperson: “what guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner agreed upon?”
  • Never pay in advance for services. Pay for services only after they have been delivered.
  • Always take lots of time before agreeing to anything.
  • Have a set policy with respect to the kind of information that will and will not be supplied over the telephone.
  • Never send money or give out personal and sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and banking information.
  • If an individual has already been victimized, be especially wary of people who call offering help to recover the loses – for a fee – that must be paid in advance.

Steps to follow to prevent internet fraud:

  • Never respond to unsolicited email
  • Never provide personal information in a “pop-up” screen
  • Be wary of downloading information from an unknown source
  • Beware of bogus websites (designed to mimic legitimate sites)
  • Popular scams to look for include, but are not limited to: The new best friend scam, in which a professional attempts to become an elders friend in order to grain control over her finances; The home renovation scam, in which a workers offers to do repair work paid in advance and then does not complete the work; and The grandparent scam, where a stranger calls an elder pretending to be their grandchild asking for large sums of money.

Tips / Tools / Checklist

Telltale signs that should warn consumers that a telemarketer is not on “the up and up” include:

  • Lots of pressure to act immediately (eg, unless you act now, the offer will be withdrawn)
  • “postage and handling” taxes or other charges must be paid up front, before a gift, vacation, or prize can be claimed
  • Popular payment arrangements include a credit card or bank account number, wire transfers and cheques (which will be picked up by courier). The emphasis will be always be on quick payments that cannot – after the fact – be easily connect to the recipient organization
  • Great pains will be taken to build the profile of the company involved. The mark will be assured that the company is above board and that there is no need to check it out with anyone else (eg, family members, lawyers, accountants, a local Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection agency)
  • The telemarketer will not be amenable to delay tactics – particularly requests for references and written information about the company involves – until payment has been secured
  • A variety of “High pressure” sales – and scare – tactics will be employed – the telemarketer will not take “no” for an answer


Elder financial abuse can be once again defined as the fraudulent of otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregivers or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an older individual for monetary or personal bandit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving an older individual of rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets. All elders are at risk for elder financial abuse, and the family should often check for signs and indicators that your elder is under abuse or financially sound. If you suspect that an elder has fallen victim to a scam or that he or she is being financially exploited, your first course of action should always be to get in touch with the experts available on various elder abuse hotlines across the country, so your elder can receive the right support that is meant for them.

Charities and Legacy Planning


The idea behind legacy planning is that adverse events can also be managed by way of shared values and increasing knowledge level of the surviving family members. This allows them to make decisions for themselves while understanding how the wealth was established and taking the deceased values and desires into account. Legacy planning helps create a balance between safeguarding specific risks and reducing taxes while allowing the surviving family to deal with the deceased’s wealth as adults.

Some key questions to ask yourself to determine where to start when beginning estate and legacy planning:

  • What are the impressions that I want people to associate with me?
  • Is my family able to assume full responsibility for the business and financial matters under my management?
  • Do I have philanthropic interests?
  • Which family members will share in my estate (spouse, children, and possibly grandchildren)? Is there extended family?

Legacy planning is alike estate planning except taking it one step further to include dealing with issues such as:

  • Educating the next generation on issues surrounding wealth management
  • Improving communications within the family, ensuring the deceased’s intentions hopes and concerns have been shared
  • Setting some family values and perhaps ever a mission statement
  • Establishing philanthropic goals

If you don’t have a plan in place for your estate, its management might go against your wishes once it is passed on; as a result, it makes good sense for all elders to take the time to develop a comprehensive estate and legacy plan. In doing so they are taking thoughtful, caring steps to provide for their family and even their community. If you are beginning the legacy and estate planning process, your first concern may naturally be how to maximize what you give to your family and favorite charities by minimizing what you pay in taxes. Although legacy planning does achieve this, it also helps an elder leave a meaningful legacy and allows for them to plan for them to give back to the community through gifts and charitable donations in a multitude of different ways, proving to have endless benefits. Estate and legacy planning is not a one-time exercise, it is an ongoing process because circumstances and needs will change. These changes may put even more emphasis on the need for careful estate and legacy planning.


  • 50% of the capital gains of any stocks, bonds, real estate investments and other assets are taxable at the personal income rate

From two separate surveys conducted in 2012 of legacy planning mistakes of older Canadians:

  • 84% of the surveyed had named a friend or family member as their executor – a potentially risky move – and 80% or respondents had no prior experience of administering a will
  • 2/3 of respondents thought that it could be wrapped up in a year or less, while 38% thought that it would take less than 6 months. In actuality it takes 1 year to 18 months for most cases.
  • 37% of respondents had no updated their will in over 5 years, which proves to be risky as updated should occur after all major life events.
  • 81% of retired boomers had a will, but only 49% had a current health directive, and 39% to have a current financial directive, which are essential parts of one’s legacy planning.


Reasons for making a donation to a charity in your Will:

  • It’s a future gift that doesn’t cost you anything during your lifetime.
  • There are no extra out-of-pocket costs and your income will not decrease.
  • It’s a highly effective way to reduce estate taxes on your final tax return.
  • You can feel good knowing that you’re supporting a cause that’s meaningful to you while creating a Legacy of hope.

You may be asking I already have a Will, so why should I change it for donations? Your Will should be reviewed every few years. Changes may include marital status, birth of a child or grandchild. You want to update your Will to reflect changes and ensure your philanthropic wishes are carried out. A codicil allows you to update your will and it is not difficult or expensive.

Whether or not you already have a will, the easiest way to include a gift in your will is to get professional help from a legal advisor experienced in preparing wills. Foundations and charities themselves can also help ensure that your donation will be used as you intend by providing suggested bequest wording for your will, which you can bring to your legal advisor.

A bequest is a gift made in your will – and a highly effective way of carrying on your support for the people and causes that mattered most to you during your lifetime.

If you do not already have a Will one should be made for your estate. You need to make a Will to carry out your wishes in order to provide for those you would like to ensure benefit from your estate. If not, the people you care about including charities will not receive what you desire.  If you have no Will, promises you have made may not be carried out, your wishes can be disregarded.  Also, you may leave your loved ones with a legal and financial challenges to sort out.

Tax credits are provided by both the federal and provincial governments in determining tax payable. A credit is a direct reduction of tax. The maximum amount of donations that can be claimed as tax credits in a year is 75% of the taxpayer’s net income for that year. In the year of death, charitable donations can be claimed up to 100% of net income in the year of death and the year prior. Donation credits can also be carried forward five years.

Actions / Steps to Take

Whether you have near-term cash flow priorities, long-term wealth transfer plans or philanthropic goals that will span generations, identifying your objectives is the first step when creating a legacy plan. Often, the best way to do this is through open and honest discussions with family members and trusted advisors. Good communication is critical to a healthy family life and equally important for preserving wealth. Generally, families that succeed through generational transitions of their legacy have developed real trust—and that trust is built through compassionate and candid conversation.

Elders can also volunteer their time as well as a charitable gift of money. Time commitments vary by volunteer opportunity. Consult the volunteer opportunities to see which roles might fit with your schedule.

Gift and donation planning is an important part of legacy planning. Many of us can make a gift from our estate to help support charities we care about. As seen above, there are considerable tax benefits to making end-of-life charitable gift. While there are no estate taxes in Canada, any taxes that apply during one’s lifetime also apply at death. If an elder leaves a gift to a registered charity, his estate can use the receipts issues to eliminate taxes owing. Charitable gifts made through a will are the most common form of end-of-life gifts and can be made in many ways including the following: 

  • Cash gifts
  • Life insurance
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan/Registered Retirement Income Fund
  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Publicly traded stocks, mutual funds, and bonds
  • Property
  • Endowments

Although one might see legacy planning as setting the stage for “ruling from the grave”, this process may actually help avoid this issue. For example, where an individual has accumulated wealth and is concerned that the next generation may not properly plan for financial issues or make unwise investment decisions, one approach is to try and control these issues by using a trust. Under such an approach, investment decisions are deferred to trustees and restrictions may be placed on the ability of the beneficiaries to access income and capital from the trust. Trusts can also produce substantial tax savings, especially when combined with an incorporated owner-managed business.

The Six Steps to Legacy Planning:

  1. Consult and retain appropriate professionals: may include advisor, lawyer, and a tax planner
  2. Setting objectives: minimizing tax, ensuring property is used, paying all debts, etc.
  3. Collecting and analyzing data: identifying assets, identifying liquid and non-liquid assets, etc.
  4. Strategies for transferring the elder’s estate: selling, gifting, and transfers of properties
  5. Implementing the plan: naming those who will act on your behalf
  6. Monitoring the plan: Review on regular basis

Tips / Tools / Checklist

Legacy Planning Checklist

  • Set goals for what you wish to accomplish
  • Choose an executor
  • Choose a guardian(s) for minor children or adult dependents
  • Review tax considerations for the estate and make appropriate choices or changes
  • Review insurance needs and make appropriate choices or changes
  • Create a personal information directory (see sample at the end of section)
  • Speak to executor and family about wishes and location of important papers
  • Made a list of assets and liabilities
  • Speak to family about who will receive personal effects
  • Have a lawyer draw up a will (self and spouse)
  • Have a lawyer draw up incapacity documents (self and spouse)
  • Review trust considerations and make appropriate choices or changes
  • Do succession planning and review legacy plan

In preparing an estate and legacy plan, elders should also attempt to avoid the following traps:

  • Procrastination
  • Trying to take it with them
  • The “I Love You” Will (For elders of large estates)
  • Lack of liquidity
  • Unbalanced property ownership
  • Equal distribution to heirs
  • Property transfers based on non-will provisions
  • Saddling children with debt
  • Improperly owned life insurance
  • “It’s all been taken care of…” (Reviewing your legacy and estate plan regularly)

Valuable Tips for Legacy Planning:

  • Take careful consideration when deciding who will assume the role of executor, preferably a person will prior knowledge and skill of the task at hand.
  • Be sure to discuss with your family and advisors exactly how you want your estate to be distributed.
  • Consider contacting a lawyer to help explain all your options and ensure your documents are in order.
  • Make sure you have an updated will and review your life insurance regularly.
  • Keep all valuable papers together, such as insurance papers, wills, bonds, investment records, etc.
  • Name a beneficiary to your life insurance, RRSP, RRIF.
  • Keep some assets liquid, allowing for cash availability upon passing
  • Fill out a net worth statement every year detailing your assets

Sample Pages of a Personal Information Directory:



Older adults have a wealth of skills, experience and knowledge to share that creates positive community spirit and impact. Volunteering gives the opportunity to learn new things and expand this knowledge for personal growth while helping others. Offering your skills, talents and time not only gives purpose but it simply feels good too.

When you volunteer, you discover that the most important things you have to offer are not things at all. As a result, you begin to realize that your time, presence and attention are great resources. Undoubtedly, seniors make up a large percentage of volunteers and are a staple to community groups and organizations. With this in mind, seniors should participate in service geared towards their individual abilities and interests.


  • Roughly 1 out of every 3 Canadians age 65 and older are volunteering their time to charitable and non-profit organizations.
  • On average Canadians over 65 are giving over 400 hours annually (more than 10 full-time weeks). Close to 25% of elders volunteer a significant amount of time to a wide variety of different charitable causes.
  • The economic value of the volunteer work done by elders, alone, is as much as 2.3 billion dollars annually.
  • Overall, the elderly makes up almost 25 percent of the volunteer population.


Volunteers have the satisfaction of helping others while enjoying the benefits of staying active and connected to their communities. Seniors who volunteer report better overall physical and emotional health and well-being than non-volunteers. Other benefits include feeling valued and empowered, meeting new people, opportunities for creativity and personal growth, and having fun.

Volunteering can be an important part of a healthy, active retired life. If you’re planning for retirement, consider how you’ll spend your time. Many people retire and find they don’t have enough to do. Volunteer work can make the transition from formal employment to retirement easier.

Surprisingly, volunteering doesn’t just benefit the organization that the seniors support – it also provides and produces several benefits for the elder volunteer themselves including:

  • It stimulates mental function
  • Creates valuable social interactions (Combatting isolation and depression)
  • Creates a state of “Helpers high” (produces health benefits that are alike yoga and meditation)
  • It is positively correlated with increased life expectancy

When it comes to physical health, the benefits of volunteering are many. Here are just a few:

  • Physical exercise is a natural part of many volunteer opportunities. Consider planting trees, raising funds by walking or running, or coaching a kids’ soccer team.
  • Reducing stress, a benefit of volunteerism, may well also lower your blood pressure, according to a study by Carnegie Mellon University.
  • Losing weight can be a positive side-effect of volunteering, especially for young people, indicates a study done in Canada.
  • Reversing a sedentary lifestyle is always good for health. Visiting a senior or packing goods at a food bank gets you up off the couch.

Many volunteers invite someone close to them to come along and help. This can extend the health benefits of volunteering to someone in their circle – and deepen a friendship.

Volunteering may not be the first thing people think of, when feeling down or lonely. But studies show that volunteering can have great benefits for a person’s mental health. Here are a few examples:

  • Volunteering with people can ward off loneliness, depression and anger. The volunteer both focuses on others and strengthens their social network, according to the Harvard Health web site.
  • Volunteering on a scheduled basis gives structure when life is without motivation. According to this volunteer, it gave her a clear reason to “get up off the couch”.
  • Volunteering outside has its own set of benefits, according to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Time spent in nature can reduce stress and anxiety and improves the mood, studies show.
  • Volunteering in any area gives people a sense of self-worth and achievement.

Actions / Steps to Take

Where to get started? Think about how much time you have to volunteer and the kinds of things you enjoy doing. Then contact your local volunteer centre or other community organization to find out about volunteer opportunities that meet your needs.

According to the Corporation for National Community & Service, the most common forms of volunteering are:

  • Collecting, serving, preparing, or distributing food
  • Fundraising or selling items to raise money
  • Engaging in general labor, like helping build homes or clean up parks
  • Tutoring or teaching
  • Mentoring the youth
  • Collecting, making, or distributing clothing

Where to find volunteer opportunities:

  • Community theaters, museums, and monuments
  • Libraries or senior centers
  • Service organizations such as Lions Clubs or Rotary Clubs
  • Local animal shelters, rescue organizations, or wildlife centers
  • Youth organizations, sports teams, and after-school programs
  • Historical restorations, national parks, and conservation organizations
  • Places of worship such as churches or synagogues
  • Online databases

Tips / Tools / Checklist

There are numerous volunteer opportunities available. The key is to find a position that you would enjoy and are capable of doing. It’s also important to make sure that your commitment matches the organization’s needs. Ask yourself the following:

  • Would you like to work with adults, children, animals, or remotely from home?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
  • Are you better behind the scenes or do you prefer to take a more visible role?
  • How much time are you willing to commit?
  • What skills can you bring to a volunteer job?
  • What causes are important to you?

Don’t limit yourself to just one organization or one specific type of job. Sometimes an opportunity looks great on paper, but the reality is quite different. Try to visit different organizations and get a feel for what they are like and if you click with other staff and volunteers.

Tips to make sure that your volunteer position is a good fit:

  • Ask questions. You want to make sure that the experience is right for your skills, your goals, and the time you want to spend. Sample questions for your volunteer coordinator might address your time commitment, if there’s any training involved, who you will be working with, and what to do if you have questions during your experience.
  • Make sure you know what’s expected. You should be comfortable with the organization and understand the time commitment. Consider starting small so that you don’t over commit yourself at first. Give yourself some flexibility to change your focus if needed.
  • Don’t be afraid to make a change. Don’t force yourself into a bad fit or feel compelled to stick with a volunteer role you dislike. Talk to the organization about changing your focus or look for a different organization that’s a better fit.
  • If volunteering overseas, choose carefully. Some volunteer programs abroad can cause more harm than good if they take much-needed paying jobs away from local workers. Look for volunteer opportunities with reputable organizations.
  • Enjoy yourself. The best volunteer experiences benefit both the volunteer and the organization. If you’re not enjoying yourself, ask yourself why. Is it the tasks you’re performing? The people you’re working with? Or are you uncomfortable simply because the situation is new and unfamiliar? Pinpointing what’s bothering you can help you decide how to proceed.


Volunteering doesn’t have to take over your life to be beneficial. The important thing is to volunteer only the amount of time that feels comfortable to you. Volunteering should feel like a fun and rewarding hobby, not another chore on your to-do list.

Downsizing and Moving out of Your Home


When the time comes, downsizing for seniors can present a multitude of emotional and physical challenges. Sorting a household of possessions – and wading through a lifetime of memories – can be daunting for both seniors and their caregivers. As overwhelming as it may seem, downsizing can help to create a simple, safe and stress-free environment for your senior loved one.

Elders move for many of the same reasons that younger adults move – their existing home no longer “fits,” they want to live in a better neighborhood, or closer to family. The typical nursing home resident in Canada is age 85 or older and she faces many challenges including multiple chronic diseases along with problems with mobility, memory and incontinence. Many residents are completely dependent on staff for the most basic activities of daily living. Many elders that do not fit this description or are younger than 85 choose to downsize into another home. If you are an elder that does not currently need this type of care, downsizing and moving into another home may also be what is best for your situation.Real estate in Canada has enjoyed an enormous boom in recent years, and that’s allowed many long-time homeowners to build significant wealth without really trying. That can give you more options in retirement.

Aging in place is something that is desired by most Canadian elders. For some elders, it means staying in the same house they have occupied for years. But it may also mean simply staying in the same community, although in a different, smaller, building. In some contexts, aging in place means any alternative to moving to a long-term care facility, such as renting an apartment that offers extra support for living.

When the time comes, downsizing for seniors can present a multitude of emotional and physical challenges. Sorting a household of possessions – and wading through a lifetime of memories – can be daunting for both seniors and their caregivers.

If the need to downsize comes up unexpectedly due to health or other concerns, the weight of the task can be more challenging to process. The majority of seniors over the age of 70 have more than they need – but find it incredibly difficult to give up their items.

As overwhelming as it may seem, downsizing can help to create a simple, safe and stress-free environment for your senior loved one. 

As desirable as aging in place may be, it is important to note that aging in place may be inappropriate for seniors living in older structures that require extensive ongoing maintenance. New forms of housing that do not require frequent repairs and that can be easily fitted with supports as their residents age may be a more comfortable choice. In this situation, the favorable idea would be for the elder to downsize or move out of their current home.

Sample Questions to Determine if an Elder Requires a Change in Housing:

  • How often has the elder fallen in the last 6 months?
  • How often has the elder been to the emergency room in the past 6 months?
  • Has the elder experienced the loss of a loved one in the past year?
  • How often has the elder experiences signs of depression in the last 6 months?
  • Does the elder need assistance bathing or dressing?
  • How often do family members visit with the elder?
  • How often do situations arise where a family member is unable to assist the elder?
  • How often has a family member lost time from work in the past 6 months to deal with the elder’s crisis?
  • How much family “free” time is used to take care of the elder’s needs?

Common reasons for an elder to downsize or move out:

  • Maintenance. MetLife Mature Market Institute reports that adults 55 and up want help with gardening, minor home repairs, meal deliveries, and housekeeping.
  • Cost of living. Cutting housing costs is a quick way to save money and increase retirement savings. The smaller the space, the less you’ll have to spend on expenses like heating and electricity.
  • Health Issues. For those with reduced physical abilities, vision or hearing impairments and other medical needs, senior living offers the services and amenities that the elderly population needs.


  • Approximately 93% of BC’s seniors will live out their lives in an independent living arrangement.
  • A 2012 assessment of the roughly 300,000 Canadians currently in long term care facilities shows only 1 in every 15 was under the age of 65, and nearly half were age 85 and older, with a mean age of 82.
  • In 2017 of the 6 million Canadians over 65 years of age, 92.1% lived in private households or dwellings while 7.9% lived in collective dwellings, such as residences for senior citizens.
  • The most common ages looking to downsize their home, but still prefer ownership are ages 55-64.


When evaluating an elder housing needs, the following issues should be taken into consideration:

  • Level of Care – If the elder has a chronic medical condition that is expected to worsen over time, it’s especially important to think about the common complications associated with the condition, and how they will be handled.
  • Location and accessibility – How far is the elder’s home from shopping, medical facilities, and other services? If the elder can no longer drive, is there access to other forms of transportation?
  • Social support – If it becomes difficult or impossible for the elder to leave the home, isolation or depression can rapidly set in.
  • Caregiving support – What kind of caregiving support do they need, and can they access it in their current place of living?
  • Finances – Making a budget with anticipated expensive can help the elder weigh the pros and cons of staying, downsizing, or moving out of their home.

Long term care is another factor that must be considered when an elder is thinking of downsizing of moving out of the home. Long term care may be needed in one of two ways:

Scheduled: Scheduled activities are those that can be performed on a regular schedule at times of the day. For example, people may lose the ability to dress themselves. If scheduled visits are arranged to give assistance with that single ADL, these individuals can function adequately during the remainder of the day with minimum support system at home. If scheduled care is only needed for you, downsizing may be the right move.

On-demand: On-demand activities are those that must be taken care of on demand. As a chronic condition progresses, a person will need help in performing activities of daily living when no they require assistance at any time during the day. Scheduled visits will not be enough to provide adequate care. The individual may require long term care in a setting other than the home because they will need help throughout the day. If on-demand care is needed for you, moving out of your home is an option that could be considered.

Many seniors and elders can and will remain in mainstream housing. This includes those who stay in the housing they have occupied all their working lives and those who downsize to condominiums or rental apartments. Many seniors prefer to stay in their homes, especially since most are healthy enough to not need assisted care.

Actions / Steps to Take

Chart: Elder Housing Options:

Type of HousingDescriptionThis housing may be good for you if:
Aging in PlaceStaying at home has the advantage of keeping an elder in a familiar place. To elders who choose to stay at home or downsize there is also a wide range of service available for them and home modifications to make life easier.The elder has a close network of family, friends, etc. The neighborhood is safe The home can be modified The elders physical and medical needs do not require a lot of care
Independent and Active Lifestyle AccommodationOften referred to as an adult lifestyle community, this type allows elders to access specialized programs such as transportation. These communities may be apartment complexes, condos, or even free-standing homes.They start needing minor assistance with activities of daily living They’d like a place that does not require a lot of maintenance
Assisted Living AccommodationAssisted living services provide housing, hospitality services and personal care services for adults who can live independently and make decisions on their own behalf, but require a supportive environment due to physical and functional health challenges.The elders needs more personal care services than at home or in an adult lifestyle community The elder doesn’t need round-the-clock medical care alike a nursing home
Short-Term Residential CareShort-term residential care services are provided on a short-term basis (usually less than three months) and include convalescent care, residential hospice palliative care and respite care.Respite care provides a client’s main caregiver a period of relief, it can also provide a client with a period of supported care to increase their independence Convalescent care is provided to clients with defined and stable care needs who require a supervised environment for reactivation or recuperation prior to discharge home, most commonly following an acute episode of care
Long Term CareResidential care services are provided in facilities that provide 24-hour professional care and supervision in a protective, supportive environment for people who have complex care needs and can no longer be cared for in their own homes or in an assisted living residence.The elder’s medical and personal needs have become too great to handle at home The elder needs temporary care after hospitalization

Often with some renovations, an elder can remain in his or her own home for life. The most common adjustments done to the home include renovations on:

  • Electrical Outlets
  • Doors
  • Stairs
  • Flooring
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom


Systems to assist an elder in the process of downsizing:

  • Declutter. More often than not, your first step will be to declutter the space. Get rid of anything you’re not using that doesn’t have an emotional attachment. This process will get the mind in the mode of letting go and will help when you start getting into items that have more sentiment attached to them.
  • Donate. Suggest donating certain items to family members or a non-profit instead of discarding them. Donating is a great way to let the senior know that their item is valued and someone else will also be able to value it. Reassure the senior that their items will be going to a good home. Local Goodwill locations and grandchildren may be more than willing to put your belongings to good use.
  •  The fear of change can be paralyzing. Taking notes and pictures of items will allow you to recreate a similar setup in the new space – not to mention help you keep track of important documents and treasured items. Be as detailed as you can, from furniture arrangements to the placement of family photos on the walls.


Innovative housing options and technology can help older Canadians remain in their own homes or downsize while maintaining ownership as they age – but when this becomes unworkable, there are now several attractive housing alternatives available. Elder’s residences are available for elders who want housing that is designed to meet their needs, health care or convenient access to recreation and leisure activities.

Older Elders face many important decisions when it comes to their living arrangements. Some of these decisions are voluntary, while others are necessitated because of changing health needs, finances, or the death of a spouse.

Whatever the situation, it is imperative that the elder be a part of the process and is respected for whatever the choice is that they make.

Physical Impairments and Daily Activities


The federal government recognizes that Canadians with severe disabilities face a higher cost of living. The disability tax credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps people with disabilities, or their supporting persons reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. Once an individual is eligible for the DTC, they may claim the disability amount on their income tax and benefit return. The purpose of the DTC is to provide for greater tax equity by allowing some relief for disability costs, since these are unavoidable additional expenses that other taxpayers don’t have to face.

Being eligible for the DTC can open the door to other federal, provincial, or territorial programs such as the registered disability savings plan, the working income tax benefit, and the child disability benefit.

Individuals experience impairments to their health that mean they can no longer conduct one or more of the ‘normal functions of daily life’.  There may be compensation available! 

We refer to this as “found money”, because it costs the individual nothing for HRC to undertake an analysis of their circumstances.  There is no cost or investment to undertake the investigation and processing.  HRC works on a ‘contingency’ basis, which means sharing in any compensation recovered – at a rate of 25%.  If no compensation is achieved, the client pays nothing.  There may also be an ‘ongoing’ benefit to the client, which HRC does NOT share in.

HRC undertakes the investigation, analysis, application, processing and securing of the compensation.  There is very little effort needed from the client.  Any compensation is paid directly to the client.

The applications can be done retroactively over a number of past years.  They can even be done on behalf of estates of deceased individuals, allowing them to give one final gift to loved ones.

HRC pays you a referral fee if you refer someone and they receive found money.

The client receives a written guarantee their information will be kept private and confidential.

Getting started is easy.  Just contact HRC by phone or email or have us contact you by passing your information to anyone who has referred you to us.

There are many reasons why we tend to slow down and become more sedentary with age. It may be due to health problems, weight or pain issues, or worries about falling. Or perhaps you think that exercising simply isn’t for you. But as you grow older, an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever to your health.

Physical activity can improve your mental health, help you manage chronic diseases, and help to prevent illness and disability. In the long run, it will also give you more energy, increase your self-confidence and help you stay independent.


  • About 10% of those older than 65 and more than 25% of those 85 have Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
  • As many as 80% of Canadians over age 65 have reading difficulties, including impairing their ability to fill out forms, reading medicinal information, and prose literacy.
  • 20% of older adults experience significant impairment in their ability to function.
  • Most seniors in B.C. would benefit from as little as ten minutes of physical activity, three times a day.


To be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, an individual must have a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions, which is present all or substantially all of the time (at least 90% of the time), and that has last or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

Chart: Maximum Disability Amounts

YearMaximum Disability Amount

Eligibility is based on the effects of the individual’s impairment, which must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Vision
  • Basic activities of daily living
    • Speaking
    • Hearing
    • Walking
    • Eliminating (bowel or bladder functions)
    • Feeding
    • Dressing
    • Mental functions necessary for everyday life
  • Life-sustaining therapy
  • The cumulative effect of significant restrictions in two or more of the basic activities of daily living, or in vision and one or more of the basic activities of daily living.

Eligibility is not based on the medical condition except where the person is blind. Activities such as working, recreation, housekeeping, or social functions are also not included in the definition of basic activities of daily living for the purposes of the disability tax credit. The fact that a person has a job does not disqualify that person from the disability tax credit.

A recent Swedish study found that physical activity was the number one contributor to longevity, adding extra years to your life—even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years. But getting active is not just about adding years to your life, it’s about adding life to your years.

Getting moving can help boost your energy, maintain your independence, protect your heart, and manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as your weight. Regular exercise is also good for your mind, mood, and memory.

Physical Health Benefits for Elders:

  • Helps you maintain or lose weight. As metabolism naturally slows with age, maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge. Exercise helps increase metabolism and builds muscle mass, helping to burn more calories.
  • Reduces the impact of illness and chronic disease. People who exercise tend to have improved immune and digestive functioning, better blood pressure and bone density, and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
  • Enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance. Exercise improves your strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn will help with balance, coordination, and reducing the risk of falls. Strength training also helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis
  • Improves sleep. Quality sleep is vital for your overall health. Regular activity can help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, and wake feeling more energetic and refreshed.
  • Boosts mood and self-confidence. Exercise is a huge stress reliever and the endorphins produced can actually help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, or anxiety. Being active and feeling strong naturally helps you feel more self-confident.
  • Does amazing things for the brain. Activities like Sudoku or crossword puzzles can help keep your brain active, but little comes close to the beneficial effects of exercise on the brain. It can help brain functions as diverse as multitasking and creativity and can help prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Getting active may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Myths about aging:

  • Myth 1: There’s no point to exercising. I’m going to get old anyway.
    • Fact: Regular physical activity helps you look and feel younger and stay independent longer. It also lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure, and obesity.
  • Myth 2: Exercise puts me at risk of falling down.
    • Fact: Regular exercise, by building strength and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, actually reducing your risk of falling.
  • Myth 3: It’s too frustrating: I’ll never be the athlete I once was.
    • Fact: Changes in hormones, metabolism, bone density, and muscle mass mean that strength and performance levels inevitably decline with age. The key is to set lifestyle goals that are appropriate for your age.
  • Myth 4: I’m too old to start exercising.
    • Fact: You’re never too old to get moving and improve your health! In fact, adults who become active later in life often show greater physical and mental improvements than their younger counterparts. If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a while, you won’t be encumbered by the same sports injuries that many regular exercisers experience in later life. In other words, there aren’t as many miles on your clock, so you’ll quickly start reaping the rewards. Just begin with gentle activities and build up from there.
  • Myth 5: I can’t exercise because I’m disabled.
    • Fact: Chair-bound people face special challenges but can lift light weights, stretch, and do chair aerobics, chair yoga, and chair Tai Chi to increase their range of motion, improve muscle tone and flexibility, and promote cardiovascular health. Many swimming pools offer access to wheelchair users and there are adaptive exercise programs for wheelchair sports such as basketball.
  • Myth 6: I’m too weak or have too many aches and pains.
    • Fact: Getting moving can help you manage pain and improve your strength and self-confidence. Many older people find that regular activity not only helps stem the decline in strength and vitality that comes with age, but actually improves it. The key is to start off gently.

Actions / Steps to Take

My client is a person with health impairments.  There are hundreds of types of situations which may qualify but approval requires investigation and analysis.  The government works to a formula and logic process which is not obvious to the average person, or most accountants and doctors.  I prepare the applications for the doctor’s approval. There are many other factors that must be accounted for and require my specialized knowledge, including the impact of bankruptcy on my client.  The financial returns achieved for my clients vary based on their situation.  My clients to-date are in every province and territory.

There are many exercise programs developed especially for seniors. It’s important to choose an exercise that is both enjoyable for you and safe.

Low-impact activities like walking, hiking, swimming, and water aerobics or aquafit classes (instructor-led exercise classes in a swimming pool) are great choices.
Community and seniors’ centres often provide exercise programs tailored to the needs and abilities of seniors.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) also is a great resource and lists a number of exercises designed for seniors.

Tips / Tools / Checklist

Finding an activity that motivates you will help you stick to your exercise routine. Sign up for a class, join a walking or running group, or make plans with an exercise buddy. Or, consider training for a local sporting event or the 55+ BC Games. This will not only keep you focused, but it will also help you make social connections and stay engaged in your community.

Basic Tips to stay motivated with daily physical activities:

  • Focus on short-term goals, such as improving your mood and energy levels and reducing stress, rather than goals such as weight loss, which can take longer to achieve.
  • Reward yourself when you successfully complete a workout, reach a new fitness goal, or simply show up on a day when you were tempted to ditch your activity plans. Choose something you look forward to, but don’t allow yourself to do until after exercising, such as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee.
  • Keep a log. Writing down your activities in an exercise journal not only holds you accountable, but is also a reminder of your accomplishments.
  • Get support. When you work out with a friend or family member, you can encourage and motivate each other.


General Health of Elders


An increasing number of studies, in fact, have demonstrated that our health is in our own hands – determined by the many choices we make each day in relation to nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle.

Isolation and withdrawal are not a part of a natural progression of aging and that physiological and social needs in old age are no different from middle age. This implies that to age optimally, one should stay active and maintain the activities of middle age if possible, substituting new activities when necessary.


  • At age 60, about 1% of the population is visually impaired, but by age 80 this rate increases to 24% according to Eye Digest.
  • 46% of non-institutionalized elders have experienced some level of activity restriction due to chronic health problems
  • 7-8% of Canadian elders suffer from severe forms of cognitive impairment (eg., Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Vascular Dementia)
  • By age 70, roughly 30% of elders have developed age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
  • More than 60% of adults do not achieve the recommended amount of regular physical activity.
  • 25% of adults are not active at all.
  • In one study dealing with frail elders who were, on average 90 years old, muscle strength was improved by 160% with eight weeks of weight training.


Elders are not only capable of exercise but require it to maintain independence and good mental functioning as well as to reduce the risk of disease. Aerobics (walking, swimming, etc.) is essential.

Even healthy elders experience losses that can affect their capacity to receive and understand information. Changes in both visual and auditory acuity can severely impact an elder’s capacity to absorb information. These changes take place gradually and may be barely noticeable at first. Physical changes include declines in strength, speed of execution, fine motor control, hand-eye coordination, and sensitivity to touch. Elders may also be present with presbyopia, or a variety of other age-related vision disorders. Many of these conditions and disorders can develop into physical impairments or are already classified as physical impairments.

In addition to the benefits to the cardiovascular system, aerobic exercise can:

  • Give you more energy, adding years to your life span.
  • Improve mood, reduce depression, and anxiety.
  • Improve quality of sleep.
  • Improve good (HDL) cholesterol and reduce body fat.
  • Reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

The Benefits of Regular Physical Activity:

  • Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
  • Reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.

Reduces the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer.

Actions / Steps to Take

Many types of exercise can be very advantageous to the quality of life of the elder. Strength training can help elders in performing the basic activities of daily living, to become independent again. Stretching and balance exercises such as yoga or Tai Chi are particularly beneficial for elders who have arthritis. These types of exercises can also be helpful in preventing falls. The key is to focus on a non-rigorous – but consistent – exercise regime.

As we age, we undergo several physiological changes, which affect not only how we look, but also how we function and respond to daily living. Many elders experience poor circulation, one way to address it is to develop activity routine, which conserves energy and yet includes opportunities for movement. The following is a list of some physical impairments and conditions and how daily activity can provide solutions:

  • Reduction in lung capacity combined with a loss of rib cage muscle strength can also seriously impact an elder’s ability to breathe deeply and expel carbon dioxide. Exercise can increase the amount of oxygen absorbed – which will reduce the workload on the heart.
  • At advanced ages, muscle wither and is replaced with fatty deposits. This leads to reduced gastrointestinal activity and ability to breathe. Exercise – while not a cure – is very beneficial.
  • Most people in the 70s and 80s have lost substantial 20-30 degrees of peripheral vision field. Elders can compensate for peripheral vision impairment though neck exercises.

The Day Program offered by Adult Day Care centers provides a wide range of therapeutic, physical, recreational, social, and mentally stimulating activities. Activities like crafts & woodworking, fitness & movement therapy, gardening, and many more.

The Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program for Persons with Disabilities (RRAP Disabilities) is another program that elders can take advantage of that provides financial assistance to low income Canadians with disabilities who want to make their homes more accessible. Both homeowners and landlords can qualify for assistance.

Tips / Tools / Checklist

A health status assessment provides the missing ingredients necessary to determine the health of an elderly person. A checklist of the benchmarks used in assessments of this nature are:

  • Lean body mass (muscle mass)
  • Strength
  • Basal Metabolic rate (BMR)
  • Body fat percentages

Exercise Tips for Elders:

  • Pick the right activities
  • Establish some variety
  • Stretch first
  • Exercise with a friend
  • Frequency is more important than duration
  • Focus on enjoyment
  • Go slow / Set achievable goals

Chart: Physical Sensory Changes Impairment Affecting Communication

Sensory ChangeExamples of Types of Communication Affected
Visual AcuityPrinted Materials, Product LabelsSignage / Media Information
Hearing AcuityInterpersonal communicationTelephoneTelevision and Radio
Agility, Mobility, TouchBanking machinesProduct packagingAssembling kits and building items

Tips for Communicating with Visually Impaired Elders:

  • Always verbally introduce yourself
  • When entering a room (with an elder who is visually impaired), describe the room layout and the other people who are in the room.
  • Explain what you are doing as you are doing it

Tips for Communicating with Hearing Impaired Elders:

  • Face the person
  • Get the elder’s attention before speaking
  • Eliminate background noise (eg. Radio and television)


There is no need for most elders to fear getting older. Many of the once-disabling problems of aging can be coped with though improved lifestyles choices, health care and the use of assisting devices. Simple but effective changes in the home’s environment can be made to help elders maintain independence.

In the last decade, hundreds of studies have shown that a healthy diet and a little exercise go a long way toward healthy aging.

The secret is a healthy lifestyle – which includes, getting plenty of appropriate physical activity, and the maintenance of a healthy body weight. The best way to try and retain our youth is via a healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition, regular exercise, and a satisfying and fulfilling life are the best ways to “turn back time”.

Diagnosed or Hereditary Health


DNA contains valuable information about each individual, from the color of their hair, eyes and other physical traits, to their inherited health risks, medical conditions and ancestral roots. Preserving DNA allows you to capture all of this information forever. Whether you choose to preserve DNA as a meaningful way to cherish your loved one, or for tracing hereditary health conditions in your family, DNA banking creates opportunities that would otherwise be lost forever. Anyone can preserve their DNA, but it is particularly important for families with a history of disease such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. DNA banking can take place at any time in life, but it becomes particularly urgent for elderly family members and family members who have a critical illness where DNA must be collected as soon as possible before it becomes too late.

A large number of serious diseases can be traced to our genetic makeup. Having a clear picture of a family’s genetic history can assist future generations in understanding their health risks and allows them to take preventative measures to mitigate the devastating effects of disease before it is too late. Without proper purification and preservation techniques, enzymes and contaminants will eventually break down the DNA in any sample. DNA preservation ensures the long-term viability of a sample for future testing purposes.


  • The top 2 leading causes of Death in Canada for Canadians under the Age of 65 are
    • Cancer (19,771)
    • Diseases of the Circulatory System (9,327)
  • The top 2 leading causes of Death in Canada for Canadians over the age of 65 are
    • Diseases of the Circulatory system (61,040)
    • Cancer (58,809)
  • 75% of all diseases can be traced back to our genetic makeup. Many of the genetic mutations that cause cancers and other hereditary diseases have been identified.
  • Approximately 1 in 21 people have a rare genetic disorder
  • 10% of all chronic disease (heart, diabetes, arthritis) which occur in the adult populations have significant genetic components.


At death, the information coded in a person’s DNA begins to degrade. DNA Banking is the best option for families who wish to preserve the genetic legacy of their loved ones and create opportunities for genetic testing if ever required by future generations to understand the source and nature of diseases within the family. Some families have a higher risk of cancer because family members carry an inherited gene mutation that is passed from a parent to a child. Some inherited gene mutations are linked to a family cancer syndrome (also called an inherited or hereditary cancer syndrome), such as Lynch syndrome.

The key features of a family history that may increase risk are:

  • Diseases that occur at an earlier age than expected (10 to 20 years before most people get the disease)
  • Disease in more than one close relative
  • Disease that does not usually affect a certain gender (for example, breast cancer in a male)
  • Certain combinations of diseases within a family (for example, breast and ovarian cancer, or heart disease and diabetes)

Being aware of your family health history is an important part of a lifelong wellness plan. Even if you don’t have a history of a particular health problem in your family, you could still be at risk. This is because:

  • Your lifestyle, personal medical history, and other factors influence your chances of getting a disease
  • You may be unaware of disease in some family members
  • You could have family members who died young, before they had a chance to develop chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer.

Actions / Steps to Take

Anyone can preserve their DNA, but it is particularly important for families with a history of disease such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. DNA banking can take place at any time in life, but it becomes particularly urgent for elderly family members and family members who have a critical illness where DNA must be collected as soon as possible before it becomes too late. A large number of serious diseases can be traced to our genetic makeup. Having a clear picture of a family’s genetic history can assist future generations in understanding their health risks and allows them to take preventative measures to mitigate the devastating effects of disease before it is too late.

A family medical history can identify people with a higher-than-usual chance of having common disorders, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, certain cancers, and diabetes. These complex disorders are influenced by a combination of genetic factors, environmental conditions, and lifestyle choices. A family history also can provide information about the risk of rarer conditions caused by mutations in a single gene, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease.

Tips / Tools / Checklist

Knowing your family history can help you take steps to lower your risk of developing cancer or other genetic conditions. This may include:

  • DNA testing
  • Consulting your family doctor
  • eating a healthy diet
  • being more physically active
  • quitting smoking 
  • having regular checkups
  • looking for any signs of change to your body
  • having certain tests such as genetic testing, a mammogram or a colonoscopy
  • beginning screening at an earlier age or having screening tests more often
  • taking drugs that may help lower risk (chemoprevention)
  • having preventive (prophylactic) surgery to remove the organs that have the highest risk of developing cancer


Whether you choose to preserve DNA as a meaningful way to cherish your loved one, or for tracing hereditary health conditions in your family, DNA banking creates opportunities that would otherwise be lost forever. Anyone can preserve their DNA, but it is particularly important for families with a history of disease such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. DNA banking can take place at any time in life, but it becomes particularly urgent for elderly family members and family members who have a critical illness where DNA must be collected as soon as possible before it becomes too late. Having a clear picture of a family’s genetic history can assist future generations in understanding their health risks and allows them to take preventative measures to mitigate the devastating effects of disease before it is too late.

Mortgage and Home


Real estate in Canada has enjoyed an enormous boom in recent years, and that’s allowed many long-time homeowners to build significant wealth without really trying. That can give you more options in retirement. If you’re a homeowner over the age of 55 with no major debts, you may be able to access the equity in your home without having to move or sell. Understanding the different mortgage financing options will help you make the best decision for your situation, whether you need extra money for maintenance or to update your home. There are many housing options for seniors and older adults in B.C. Whether you own or rent your home, or live in a supported or assisted living environment, there are programs and information that can help with your housing needs.


  • More than 90% of Canadians age 65 and older continue to live in their own homes.
  • According to the AARP, 25.5 million seniors ages 50 and older still have a mortgage.
  • From 1999 to 2016, the median amount of mortgage debt among Canadian families with mortgage almost doubled, from $91,900 50 $180,000 in 2016 Constant dollars.


If you own an expensive home, you can add to your cash saving by downsizing or relocating. Some homeowners are selling modest-sized homes, buying condos nearby, and winding up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in their pocket.

The equity in your home can also provide a back-up plan if you run low on savings. If you stay put, you can cover essential expenses by borrowing against it with a reverse mortgage or home equity line of credit-albeit only as a last resort. Later in life, if you move into a retirement or nursing home, the proceeds from selling your house can defray those costs for year. Even if you never draw on your home equity, it can provide a great legacy for your kids.

Types of Mortgage Financing:

  • Refinancing: This is usually the simplest option if you have the resources to cover monthly mortgage payments. It allows you to borrow up to 80% of your home’s value. You then repay the loan in monthly instalments over 25 or 30 years. This option often provides the best interest rate.
  • Home Equity Line of Credit: This gives you the flexibility to borrow as much or as little money as you need, up to 65% of your home’s value. The minimum monthly payments are simply the interest on what you’ve borrowed, so it may take more time and discipline to pay back the loan. The interest rate for this option is variable, and the line of credit can be combined with a regular mortgage to a maximum of 80% of your home’s appraised value.
  • Reverse Mortgage: This option has a more complex contract. It lets you borrow up to 55% of your home’s value all at once or as fixed monthly payments. In most cases, the amount of the loan and the accumulated interest are only repaid when you sell your home or pass away. This option is ultimately more expensive, and seeking independent legal advice is highly recommended.

A few years ago, the biggest players in residential mortgages started allowing seniors to use imputed income from their retirement funds, IRAs and other retirement assets to qualify for the loan they wanted. 

This policy change allows seniors to use the balances in these accounts to supplement their earnings on paper without ever taking out any money. Before this change, some seniors were turned down for loans because their debt-to-income didn’t match high standards even though they had great equity in their homes, had some savings and had good credit scores.

Reverse Mortgage

If you are a Canadian homeowner older than 55, you can get up to 50% of your home’s value through a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage is a loan that allows you to get money from your home equity without having to sell your home. This is sometimes called “equity release”. You may be able to borrow up to a certain percentage of the current value of your home. The maximum amount you will be able to borrow will depend on your age, your home’s appraised value and your lender. You are not required to make any mortgage payments and don’t have to pay any interest or principal until you sell the home or die. The mortgage is paid off from the proceeds of the home’s sale.32 In general, the older you are and the more home equity you have when you apply for a reverse mortgage, the more money you could get.

With a reverse mortgage, the existing home equity is used as security for the funds provided by the reverse mortgage. After the reverse mortgage is established, any future growth in the value of the house goes to the homeowner. (If the home falls in value, the reverse mortgage lender takes the loss—the lender guarantees that the borrower will never owe more than fair market value of the home.)

Reverse Mortgage Facts and Requirements:

  • You and your spouse must both be at least 55 years old or older.
  • You must be a homeowner
  • The amount of loan that you get varies depending on your age, the house value, and the location of the home.
  • All money you receive through the Reverse Mortgage is tax-free.
  • Canadian reverse mortgages do NOT affect an Old Age Security or Guaranteed Income Supplement government benefits you may already be receiving.
  • You make NO monthly payments while you or your spouse live in your home.

Benefits of a Reverse Mortgage:

  • You don’t have to make any regular loan payments
  • You may turn some of the value of your home into cash, without having to sell it
  • You don’t have to pay tax on the money you borrow
  • This money does not affect the Old-Age Security (OAS) or Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits you may be getting
  • You still own your home
  • You may have options as to when and how you receive the money

Important Questions to Ask:

  • What are the fees?
  • Are there any penalties if you sell your home within a certain period of time?
  • If you move or die, how much time will you or your estate have to pay off the balance of the loan?
  • At your death, what happens if it takes your estate longer than the stated time period to fully repay the loan?
  • What happens if the amount of the loan ends up being higher than the value of the home when it’s time to pay the loan back?

Tax Implications:

According to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), simple reverse mortgage payments and lines of credit are not taxable since they are equivalent to loan advances from a traditional mortgage. When reverse mortgages are used for investment purposes, the accruing mortgage interest is tax-deductible against any investment returns generated with the mortgage proceeds, providing individuals with a stream of tax-sheltered income. Furthermore, while annuity income is taxable, the income generated by a reverse mortgage annuity is not.

According to the U.S. regulations, the executor is personally liable for any taxes and penalties owed by the estate until the IRS grants official clearance. This could become applicable in the event that the elder intentionally or “accidentally” becomes a U.S. resident or domiciliary. The Canada-US Tax Treaty also does not offer true harmonization – and this can expose elders to what can amount to double taxation.

Actions / Steps to Take

Two financial institutions offer reverse mortgages in Canada:

  • HomeEquity Bank offers the Canadian Home Income Plan (CHIP), which is available across Canada directly from HomeEquity Bank or through mortgage brokers
  • Equitable Bank offers the PATH Home Plan, which is available through mortgage brokers in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario

Seniors may also be interested in rent subsidies or subsidized housing. SAFER (Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters) is a program that provides monthly cash payments to eligible B.C. seniors who pay more than 30 per cent of their before-tax income for rent. It is run by BC Housing.

Tips / Tools / Checklist

Some of the following questions may assist an elder in their decisions when considering options about their mortgage:

  • Would you prefer to receive the loan as a single “lump sum” payment, in smaller monthly payments, or to use it as an annuity or a line of credit?
  • What happens if you want to sell your home in the future?
  • How will this decision affect your spouse or children?
  • What happens if the amount you owe is more than the value of your house when it’s time to pay it back?
  • Will there be penalties if you decide to pay off the loan early?
  • Is there a “cooling off” period so you can cancel the agreement if you change your mind?

Tips and ways to deal with distribution of possessions:

  • Write specific distribution instructions into the will.
  • Give away those items no longer needed to family members, friends, or thrift store while still living.
  • Put name tags on items that are to be given to particular people.
  • State wishes in writing in a latter or memo separate from the will and file it where the executor will find it.


After years of diligently paying their mortgages, many Canadians now have significant value locked up in their homes. A reverse mortgage lets homeowners access the value in their home, without having to make any regular payments, until they choose to sell or move. For homeowners 55 and over, a reverse mortgage is often a better option than a traditional home equity line of credit.

Putting solid plans into place is an intentional act of stewardship that expresses a person’s values and shows what was important to them in life. It helps an elder to leave a meaningful legacy. Good mortgage, property, and asset planning will reduce the complication and expense of dealing with the estate. Planning may also increase the assets an elder leaves to the people and causes that are nearest and dearest to them.

Funeral Pre-Planning & Prepaying


Thinking ahead can help ensure that informed and thoughtful decisions are made. Pre-planning also allows elders input in their own funerals; to compare prices and help spare the survivors the stress of making funeral decisions while distraught and under significant time pressures.


  • A traditional funeral in Canada, including a casket, cost on average just short of $10,000 in 2017.
  • According to the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) the cremation rate in Canada is currently 70.5%, compared to 35% in 2000 and only 6% in 1970.
  • Approximately 600,000 Canadians have entered into contracts to prearrange their funerals and prepay some or all the expenses involved.
  • Industry statistics show that the cost of a traditional funeral doubles every ten to twelve years.


When a love one dies, grieving family members and friends are confronted with dozens of decisions about the funeral. These decisions must be made quickly and often under great emotional duress. What kind of funeral should it be? Which funeral provider should be used? Should the body be cremated, or buried, or donated to science? Which services are optional and which ones are mandated by law? What other arrangements need to be made? And how much is it all going to cost? All of these questions can be answered saving the family much unnecessary stress during emotional times with funeral prepaying.

Funeral planning is an extension of will and estate planning.

The benefits of planning in advance:

  • Rational and logical decisions can be made at an unemotional time
  • The elder can obtain the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their wishes are known and that these wishes will be carried out as specified
  • Both the financial and the emotional stress (on the survivors) can be minimized
  • Prepaid services offer the benefits of tax sheltering
  • A guaranteed price plan. If you can get this in writing (legally documented) you’ll have a great arrangement. It would protect you and your family from price increases over the years.

Actions / Steps to Take

Pre-need planning can be done directly with a funeral home. A funeral paid for in advance of need is always a good investment. With today’s inflation rate moving ever upward, your costs are fixed.

Types of funerals elders can choose from when pre-planning:

  • “Traditional” Full Service Funeral: Usually includes a viewing or visitation, a formal funeral service, use of a hearse to transport the body to the funeral and cemetery, or cremation after the service.
  • Direct Burial: The body is buried shortly after death, usually in a simple container. No viewing or visitation is involved. A memorial service may be held at the graveside or other location.
  • Direct Cremation: The body is cremated shortly after death. The cremated remains are placed in an urn. No viewing or visitation is involved, although a memorial service may be held with or without the cremated remains present.


  • Shipment home. For many families sending a loved one to another country is increasing in popularity. It may come as a surprise but with the cost of cemetery plots in Canada it can be more affordable to have funeral services here, but then purchase return for people overseas for services and burial there.
  • Funeral costs are guaranteed at today’s prices.
  • Payments can be made in lump sums or monthly installments.
  • Any growth in the trust fund is tax sheltered.

The cost of a funeral should be prepaid through funeral insurance.

Tips / Tools / Checklist


The loss of a loved one creates emotional and financial stress. Leaving funeral plans, until after a death compounds the problem. Thus, funeral pre-planning is universally regarded as wise and ultimately unavoidable.



Many people are faced with decisions pertaining to their living situations, care, end of life planning, investments and plans for retirement. All of these situations require financial components and how you can support yourself and your family members as you age. No matter your occupation, taxes, income and benefits all need to be managed in order to create a better idea of how to plan for your future. There are several options to help you fund your retirement. Government programs available to almost all Canadians, such as the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, help give you a basic level of income. And during your working years, the Registered Retirement Savings Plan and Tax-Free Savings Accounts give a tax-advantaged option for you to save for retirement. An elder’s retirement pension is based on three things: how much they contributed, how long they contributed, and the age at which they chose to retire.

Other options for business owners funding their retirement include the Individual Pension Plan and Retirement Compensation Arrangements. Since qualifying for the maximum Old Age Security benefit is as simple as meeting the residency requirements it should come as no surprise that the vast majority of elder Canadians receive a benefit that is at or close to the maximum.

Becoming financially secure is a realistic and obtainable goal, once an elder understands the necessary strategies and techniques for reaching his or her objectives. Fortunately, gaining the knowledge for success is neither complicated nor mysterious.


  • Approximately 50% of the income of Canadians aged 65 and over comes from Old Age Security and Canada or Quebec Pension Plan benefits.
  • The OAS program is the most widely accessible source of income for older Canadians providing approximately 6 million Canadians age 65 and older with roughly 50 billion dollars in benefits annually.
  • Workers aged 55-65 are 3x more likely to be disabled than workers 54 years of age and under.


High Income Elders must repay some or all the Old Age Security benefits they receive. In 2018, this “claw back” began at a net income of $75,910.  Any income above this threshold is subject to a 15% claw back.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has very broad powers to seize any of your tax return money in order to collect outstanding tax arrears. The CRA will simply send a letter to your bank or to the Income Security Programs (the office responsible for OAS and CPP benefits) to advise them how much of your pension or other money must be sent to the CRA for tax arrears. In practice, there is sometimes room for negotiating the amount that will be seized by the CRA.

Support or maintenance arrears for children and/or spouses if you are behind in your support or maintenance payments, 50% of your pension income can be seized to pay these arrears. In Ontario, this is often done through the Family Responsibility Office. To stop this seizure of funds, you have to apply to court and explain why the court should make a new order reducing or eliminating the outstanding arrears.

The spousal and survivor allowance stops when the recipient becomes eligible for the Old Age Security Pension at 65, they leave Canada for more than 6 months, or dies. For a couple, the allowance stops if the recipient’s spouse or common-law partner ceases to be eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement or if the spouses or common-law partners separate or divorce. In addition, the Survivors Allowance stops if the survivor remarries or lives in a common-law partnership for more than 12 months. With the help of a Financial Advisor, we can help get you on track for a financially secure retirement.


Old Age Security benefits must be applied for. The application for basic benefit and Guaranteed Income Supplement should be made six months prior to turning age 65.

To qualify for the Old Age Security pension, an individual must have lived in Canada for 40 years or since attaining the age of 18.  The eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will gradually increase from 65 to 67 over six years, starting in April 2023.

All Benefits payable under the Old Age Security Act are “indexed.” They are adjusted in January, April, July and October – if there are increases in the cost of living as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

Once paid a full or partial Old Age Security pension has been approved, it may be paid indefinitely outside Canada – so long as the pensioner had lived in Canada for at least 20 years after reaching the age of 18. Otherwise, payment will be made only in the month of the pensioner’s departure from Canada and for six additional months thereafter. The benefit may be reinstated if the pensioner returns to live in Canada and continues to meet eligibility requirements.

A person who does not qualify for a full pension may, however, apply for a partial pension plan if he or she has lived in Canada for a minimum of 10 years after age 18. For each year of residence, a credit of 1/40th of the full pension plan is earned.

Guaranteed Income Supplement

There are two basic rates of payment for the Guaranteed Income Supplement:

  • The first rate applies to single pensioners – including widowed, divorced or separated persons – and married pensioners whose common-law partners do not receive either basic Old Age Security pension or allowance.
  • The second applies to legally married couples and couples living in common law relationships, where both spouses are receiving benefits (either an OAS pension or a spousal allowance).

Spousal and Survivor Allowance

Recipients of the benefits must re-apply annually. The benefits received are not considered income for income tax purposes and the allowance is not payable outside Canada beyond a period of 6 months, regardless of how long the person lived in Canada.


CPP Disability benefits are payed monthly to people who have contributed to the plan and who are disabled due to a qualifying physical or mental condition. According to Canada Pension Plan definitions, the disability must be “severe and prolonged.” “Severe” means that the condition prevents the individual from working regularly at any job, and “prolonged” means the condition is either long term or that it may result in death.

If there is no estate at the time of a death, the CPP Death Benefit is given to the person responsible for the funeral expenses, the surviving spouse, common-law partner or the next of kin may be eligible, in that order.

The Survivors Benefit is made payable monthly to a surviving spouse. The rate is based on the survivor’s age, but for those over 65 you can expect 60% of your deceased spouse’s monthly CPP now passed to you.

Actions / Steps to Take

The OAS pension is a monthly payment available to seniors aged 65 and older who meet the Canadian legal status and residence requirements. In addition to the OAS pension, there are three types of OAS benefits:

  • Guaranteed Income Supplement – If you live in Canada and you have a low income, this monthly non-taxable benefit can be added to your OAS pension. 
  • Allowance – If you are 60 to 64 years of age and your spouse or common-law partner is receiving the OAS pension and is eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), you might be eligible to receive this benefit.
  • Allowance for the Survivor – If you are 60 to 64 years of age and you are widowed, you might be eligible to receive this benefit.

The spousal and survivor allowance is designed to recognise the different circumstances faced by many surviving spouses and by couples living on the pension plan of only one spouse or common-law partner.

If you are already receiving OAS, low income elders may also qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement. The amount of the supplement is dependent on what OAS benefits you are currently already receiving and the income level of both the recipient and the spouse.  

The Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit is a one-time lump-sum payment made to the deceased contributor’s estate. As with most Canada Pension Plan Benefits, the amount of the death benefit depends on how much and for how long, payments were made into the Canada pension plan. Canada’s Pension Plan Death Benefit has a max onetime payout of $2500. Its intent is to reimburse the purchaser of your funeral arrangement.

Tips / Tools / Checklist

The Income Security Programs Branch of Human Resources Development of Canada (HRDC) administers the Old Age Security program through regional offices located in each province and territory. They are there to help you stay connected to your federal benefits.

Business Owners

Business owners may plan to fund their retirement by selling their business. However, this can be risky because there are lots of unknowns. It’s important to consider whether you’ll have a buyer ready when you want to sell. You should have your business’s fair market value evaluated before looking for buyers.

Depending on the structure of your business, a change of owner could trigger a legal name change or require the registration of a new business number (BN) and new program accounts.

  • Sole proprietorship – If you sell or stop operating your business, you must close your business number (BN) and all your CRA program accounts. If you sell your business, the new owner will have to get a new BN and new program accounts for the business.
  • Partnership- If the structure of your partnership changes and a partner leaves or one is added, you must contact CRA. A change of partners will have a different impact on your business depending on your partnership agreement and whether or not your business was registered using the legal names of each partner or the provincially registered partnership operating name. In some cases, if the partners change, the business is considered a new legal entity and requires a new business number (BN) and new CRA program accounts.
  • Corporation – It is important that CRA has the correct director name and social insurance number (SIN) on file because if a corporation (including for-profit or non-profit corporations) fails to deduct, withhold, remit, or pay amounts held in trust for the Receiver General for Canada, the directors of the corporation at the time of failure may be held personally liable along with the corporation to pay the amount owed. This amount includes penalties and interest.
    • However, if the directors take action to ensure the corporation makes the necessary deductions or remittances, the CRA will not hold them personally responsible.
  • GST/HST- CRA ask for the name and social insurance number (SIN) of at least one of the owners, directors or partners, as well as the business activity of the business when registering any new GST/HST program account.

Without help from an Accountant or Financial Advisor, there are many tax loopholes, conditions and actions the government puts forth during your retirement. As a senior, you are still charged income tax as you retire. Like employment income, most retirement income is taxable. That includes Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) and company pension payments. It includes income from annuities and registered retirement income funds (RRIFs). It doesn’t, however, include withdrawals from your tax-free savings account (TFSA). But past a certain taxable income level, the government will ask you to return some of your OAS payments. If your income is high enough, you’ll have to give it all back. And generally speaking, past December 31 of the year you turn 71, you can’t use registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) contributions to reduce your tax bill.


With the help of Advisorly’s Financial Advisor, we will give you the tools necessary to ensure a finically supported future. Our Financial Advisor will help you navigate the assets of your business, arrange and invest your income in a proactive manor, apply for federal financial benefits and help you stay up to date or get back on track with your taxes. In order to look to the future, we must first take a look at your current financial status and start from the ground up. By dealing with our Financial Advisor, we will help you elevate the stress of planning for your future and give you some security going forward.

Life is filled with many wonderful things. The 80 and 90 years we anticipate living may not seem long enough to enjoy them all. With all the opportunities ahead of us, it seems a pity to waste a single minute worrying about money.



It is surprising, the number of people who neglect to complete a will or, if they do have a will prepared, put off having it reviewed to ensure it is up to date.

Completing a will and having it reviewed periodically makes good sense. Not only does it give the personal representative the power to make decisions that will minimize income taxes, but also it gives specific instructions as to how the estate should be administered.

A will is a written declaration of a person’s intent for dispersing property and other assets after they have died. It outlines the guardianship of children and who is to administer the estate. The law requires a person to have legal capacity to make the Will, and to follow certain requirements as laid out by the law. The Will can be changed at any time, since it does not activate until death occurs and its instructions only deal with the Estate handling after death.


  • The majority of Canadians (51%) have no will in place. Of those who do, 35 percent claim that their will has not been updated.
  • One-quarter (25%) say they haven’t written a will because they’re too young to worry about it, and 23% say they don’t have enough assets to make a will worthwhile.
  • Roughly 80% of all estates are settled within 18 months.


Your Will should be reviewed every few years. Changes may include marital status, birth of a child or grandchild. You want to update your Will to reflect changes and ensure your philanthropic wishes are carried out. A codicil allows you to update your will and it is not difficult or expensive.

Whether or not you already have a will, the easiest way to include a gift in your will is to get professional help from a legal advisor experienced in preparing wills. Foundations and charities themselves can also help ensure that your donation will be used as you intend by providing suggested bequest wording for your will, which you can bring to your legal advisor.

A bequest is a gift made in your will – and a highly effective way of carrying on your support for the people and causes that mattered most to you during your lifetime.

If you do not already have a Will one should be made for your estate. You need to make a Will to carry out your wishes in order to provide for those you would like to ensure benefit from your estate.  If you have no Will, promises you have made may not be carried out, your wishes can be disregarded.  Also, you may leave your loved ones with a legal and financial challenges to sort out.

Usually a lawyer will require two witnesses to sign additional documents known as affidavits. Affidavits establish the identity of the witnesses. People who receive gifts from the will, commonly known as beneficiaries, or their spouses should not sign as witnesses. Do so may disqualify them from receiving an inheritance from the estate.

A second type of will is called a holograph will. These wills that are written and signed by the testator but not witnessed, and the document is hand-written by its author.Such wills are often used when time is short and witnesses are unavailable, for example when the testator is trapped in a life-threatening accident.This type of will is valid in most, but not all provinces. Writing a holograph is not advisable, because it may not have all the information needed to make it clear or complete, making them partly or entirely ineffective.

All the above information begs the Question, “Have you made a Will?” When the Will’s order of content is examined, the first thing that is evident is the need for liquidity – CASH. Debts and taxes come first.

There are four basic ways to provide liquidity (cash) at death:

  1. Sales of estate assets – forced sales usually mean depressed prices, bad timing or both
  2. Borrow the cash – even if a loan is available, it must be paid back
  3. Cash in the bank – the deceased may believe cash is best, but the best use of cash is investments, not in bank interest & Life Insurance
  4. Life Insurance

Major reasons to have a will created and up to date:

  • You can be clear about who gets your assets. You can decide who gets what and how much.
  • You can keep your assets out of the hands of people you don’t want to have them (like an estranged relative).
  • You can identify who should care for your children. Without a will, the courts will decide.
  • Your heirs will have a faster and easier time getting access to your assets.
  • You can plan to save your estate money on taxes. You can also give gifts and charitable donations, which can help offset the estate tax.

Wills usually name an executor, or an administrator, who is responsible for carrying out the instructions in the will, overseeing it’s terms, and settling the estate. It can be an individual or a Trust Company.

Fees for executors based on the Fair Market Value of the estate assets as of the date of distribution:

  • Up to $250,000 – 5%
  • On the excess over $750,000 – 4%
  • Over $1 million – 3%

There can be some confusion as to what a “living will” is. The basic concept is quite simple. The living will (also known as an advanced directive) allows people to leave instructions about their possible medical treatment for doctors and family members, in case there comes a time when they are no longer capable of making decision, or of communicating them. This usually occurs at the end of your life (although not exclusively) and is specific as to how you want to be treated during your final days.

The living will is alike a “power of attorney” that one appoints to manage their finances once they become incapacitated. The difference is that a living will is a medical directive.

Powers of attorney may be specific or general and may be springing or enduring.

A specific power of attorney enables one to act for another for a specific purpose; for example, to sell a car.  A general power of attorney enables one to act for another for several purposes.

Actions / Steps to Take

A formal will is drawn up by lawyers who are trained to draft documents that are complete and can accommodate family births and deaths without becoming obsolete. Only the original, signed document is valid. For a will to be legally valid, serval technical requirements must be meant, and each province has different requirements. To ensure a will is legally valid, elders should obtain the assistance of a legal professional.

Although not legally binding if written outside of a will, leaving written instructions that clearly explain what is to be done with your things will help make your wishes clear to the executor and beneficiaries. Most often, an executor will oversee the distribution of personal possessions. If there is are no specific instructions in the will, the executor will likely allow family members to divide your personal items among themselves. This could lead to misunderstanding or disappointment.

A carefully prepared will can go a long way toward reducing the chance of arguments among those who have a claim to the estate. Giving items to the people who enjoy them most and ensuring that the beneficiaries see the process as fair are both important considerations when deciding who will receive personal effects.

Changes that Necessitate a Will Review:

  • Relationship Change: remarriage, new favorite charities, etc.
  • Needs Change: New additions to the family, changes in professions, etc.
  • Situations Change: Does the elders have new business partners? Does the elder have larger assets?
  • Times Change: Is the elder’s current will still tax effective?
  • People die: If the elder decides to leave part of their estate to someone who dies before them, complications arise.
  • Codicil: A Will can be changed without eliminating the old will, by simply dealing with the changed desired by way of a codicil.
  • Capacity: Elders must have the mental and legal capacity to understand the effect of their actions in terms of making the will and its conditions.
  • Execution: Dealing with handwritten wills and witnesses
  • Appointing an Executor/Administrator
  • Intestate: The condition of dying without a valid will.
  • Revoking a Will

Tips / Tools / Checklist

Tips to deal with the distribution of personal possessions:

  • Write specific distribution instructions into the will.
  • Give away those items no longer needed to family members. This will save the executor much time and energy.
  • State wishes in writing in a letter or memo separate from the will and file it where the executor will find it.

Things to include in an elder’s Will:

  • The person’s name, address, and the province the will was prepared in
  • A statement revoking all pervious wills
  • Instructions for settling the estate and paying final expense
  • Naming an executor (also referred to as an estate trustee)
  • The names and addresses of witnesses
  • The instructions on how the residue (remainder) of the ester will be distributed
  • A statement revoking all pervious wills
  • Instructions for settling the estate and paying final expense
  • The instructions on how the residue (remainder) of the ester will be distributed

For power of attorney one should consider the following matters:

  • Would they like their power of attorney to be specific or general?
  • Would they like their power of attorney to be springing?
  • Would they like their power of attorney to be enduring?
  • Who would they like to have as their POA?
  • Would they like to appoint more than one person to act as their POA?
  • If they would like to appoint more than one person as their POA, then are they to act jointly or successively?
  • Is their power of attorney to be revocable during their mental competence?
  • Who would they like to nominate as the party capable of declaring their mental incompetence?
  • Who would they like to nominate as the person to whom their lawyer is to accountant? This could be in conjunction with their executor or executrix.

Misconceptions when it comes to Powers of Attorney:

  • Powers of Attorney (PA) and Living Wills are not the same thing as a Last will and testament? The PA and or living will expire when the person dies. Thereafter, instructions are taken from the last will and testament.
  • PA and living wills do not have to be registered with the government.
  • A lawyer required is not required to make a PA or living will – however if the elder’s affairs are complicated, they should consider that option
  • If an elder doesn’t have a PA or living will, the government won’t step in and manage their affairs. Family members have the right to make health care decisions or apply to become “guardian” or property in the absence of a PA or Living Will. Close friends can also make application. The office of the Public Trustee only acts in situations where no other suitable person is available, able and willing.

Valuable Tips:

  • Take careful consideration when deciding who is best for the task of executor. The chosen person should have the time, knowledge and skill to take on these numerous duties.
  • Be sure to discuss with your family and advisers exactly how you want your estate to be distributed so everyone is on the same page.
  • Consider contacting a lawyer to help explain all your options and ensure your documents are in order.
  • Make sure you have a will as dying without one increases cost, add stress on your family and takes away control of your family’s assets.
  • Keep all your valuable papers together – insurance policies, wills, bonds, investment records, birth certificates, marriage certificates and social insurance numbers – and make sure your family knows where they are.
  • Review your life insurance regularly and be sure to name a beneficiary.
  • Don’t forget to name a beneficiary for your RRSP or RRIF, or alternatively, put an RRSP-RRIF clause in your will.
  • Keep some assets liquid so there is cash available to pay bills upon passing.
  • Fill out a New worth statement each year that details what your assets are, and what they are worth.


It makes good sense for all elders to take the time to develop a comprehensive estate and legacy plan; including finalizing wills, power of attorney, executors, and primary beneficiaries. In doing so they are taking thoughtful, caring steps to provide for their family and possibly even their community.

Putting solid plans into place is an intentional act of stewardship that expresses a person’s values and shows what was important to them in life. It helps an elder leave a meaningful legacy.

Once an elder puts an estate and legacy plan into place, he invariably feels a well-deserved sense of satisfaction.

Good planning will reduce the complications and expense of dealings with the estate. Planning may also increase the assets an elder leaves to the people and causes that are nearest and dearest to them.


Elder Fraud and Financial Exploitation

Crime Victim Assistance Program

Call toll free in BC at 1-866-660-3888

Seniors abuse and information line and Elder Law Clinic – Operated by the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy Support, SAIL is a safe place for older adults to talk to someone confidentially about situations where they feel they, or someone they know, is being abused or mistreated and to seek advice and support.

Seven days a week (excluding holidays), 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. P.S.T

Vancouver: 604-437-1940

Toll-free: 1-866-437-1940

Seniors health care support line – allows seniors and their families, or other concerned individuals in their lives, to report concerns about their care.

Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST

Toll-free: 1-877-952-3181

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Phone (toll-free): 1-888-495-8501

VictimLINK – Help line for victims of family violence offering services in over 110 languages, including 16 North American Aboriginal languages.

Toll-free, confidential telephone service available across BC and Yukon 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-563-0808

Text to 604-836-6381


Charities and Legacy Planning

Canada Helps – For more than 19 years, CanadaHelps has been the trusted charity, informing, inspiring and connecting charities and donors, with the causes they care about. We have facilitated over $1 billion in giving.

Phone (toll-free): (877) 755-1595

Charities Directorate of Canada

Phone: 1-800-267-2384

By TTY service for people with a hearing or speech impairment: 1-800-665-0354

Charity Intelligence Canada

Phone: 416.363.1555



Canadian Red Cross – Volunteer in any of the Red Cross’s key service areas.

Phone: 1-800-418-1111

General Email:


Community Volunteer Income Tax Program – For information about the Community Volunteer Income Tax program, to find out how to become a volunteer or to find a participating community organization in your area, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.


Idealist – Find volunteer opportunities in your local area or internationally.


National and Community Services – Federal organizations offering volunteer positions across Canada

VolunteerMatch – Find opportunities that match your volunteer interests, from location to type of work.


Volunteer Canada – Directory of environmental volunteer opportunities.

Volunteer BC

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 379 2311 Email:


Downsizing and Moving Out of Your Home

BC Housing and the Housing Registry

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 257-7756
Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 433-2218

Vancouver Island Regional Office

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 787-2807

Phone (Greater Victoria): 250 475-7550

Interior Regional Office

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 834-7149

Phone (Penticton): 250 493-0301

Northern Regional Office

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 667-1235

Phone (Prince George): 250 562-9251

Phone (Prince Rupert): 250 627-7501

B.C. Seniors’ Home Renovation Tax Credit – The B.C. Seniors’ Home Renovation Tax Credit is a refundable personal in- come tax credit to assist with the cost of permanent home modifications that improve accessibility or help a senior be more functional or mobile at home.

Phone (toll-free): 1 877 387-3332


Mailing Address: Income Taxation Branch

    PO Box 9444 STN PROV GOVT

    Victoria BC V8W 9W8


(enter “seniors home renovation tax” in Search field)

Home Adaptations for Independence Program – The Home Adaptations for Independence program helps low-income seniors and people with disabilities finance home modifications for accessible, safe and independent living. Eligible homeowners and landlords with eligible tenants can receive up to $20,000 per home in the form of a forgivable loan. The exact amount is based on the cost of materials and labour necessary for the required adaptations.

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 257-7756

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 433-2218



Seniors’ Housing & Support Initiative (Union of B.C. Municipalities)

Phone (Greater Victoria): 250 356-2947


Website: housing-support-initiative.html

Seniors’ Supportive Housing

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 257-7756

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 433-2218


Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters Program – The Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program provides monthly cash payments to subsidize rents for eligible B.C. residents who are age 60 or over and who pay rent for their homes.

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 257-7756

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 433-2218


Physical Impairments and Daily Activities

Assisted Living Registry

Phone (toll-free): 1 866 714-3378

Phone (Greater Victoria): 250 952-1369


Mailing Address: PO Box 9638 STN PROV GOVT

Victoria BC V8W 9P1 Website:

Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology

Phone: 1-877-651-3755


Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines:

Disability Tax Credit

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 959-8281


Physical Activity Line – For every age and health level, there’s a free physical activity plan that works. Just connect with B.C.’s Physical Activity Line or PAL. At PAL, you’ll find qualified exercise professionals to provide you with custom physical activity plans that meet your needs.

Phone (toll-free): 1 877 725-1149



Physical Activity – Getting and staying active benefits our bodies, helps us stay engaged in life, improves our mood and mental health, and gives us opportunities to meet new people. For more information, refer to the Your Lifestyle section of this guide, or visit the Healthy Families BC website.


Seniors’ Community Parks – Seniors’ Community Parks in B.C. provide free outdoor exercise equipment and are designed to help older adults stay mobile, healthy, and physically active in their communities.

Phone (toll-free): 1800 663-7867


General Health of Elders

Acute, Home and Community Care Services – Look under “Health Authorities” in the blue pages of your phone book for the number in your area or check the HealthLink BC website for information. You can also call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1. You can find more information about home and community care services in the Your Health section of this guide.

Phone (toll-free): 8-1-1


Age-friendly BC (Age-friendly Communities)



BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information – Seven provincial mental health and substance use agencies are working together to provide evidence-based information on mental health and substance use.

A toll-free information line provides 24-hour taped information on various mental health and substance use disorders, including symptoms, causes, treatment, options, support groups and community resources. The website is an excellent source of information for individuals and families.

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 661-2121

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 669-7600


Bounce Back: Reclaim Your Health – Speak with your health care provider about this program for those with depression and anxiety.


Loneliness: Seniors Speak Out – Seniors Speak Out about Loneliness is a resource produced by Seeking Solutions, a national project funded by Health Canada and the National Population Health Fund.

Website:… Loneliness2.pdf

Problem Gambling – The Problem Gambling Help Line is a confidential, toll-free service available to all British Columbians. The help line provides counselling information and referral 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Information and referral specialists can provide immediate information for problem gamblers, their families and friends, and can refer callers to professional problem gambling counselling services around the province.

Phone (toll-free): 1 888 795-6111

Phone (Deaf/hard-of-hearing, collect calls accepted): 604 875-0885


Seniors’ Health Information (HealthLink BC)

Phone (toll-free): 8-1-1

Phone (Deaf/hard-of-hearing [TTY], toll-free): 7-1-1



Senior’s Supplement Program

Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Phone (toll-free): 1 866 866-0800


Diagnosed and Hereditary Health

Alzheimer Society of British Columbia

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 667-3742

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 681-6530

Arthritis Answers Line – For every question, there is an answer. The Arthritis Answers Line is here as your source of help and hope.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday
Phone (toll-free): 1 800 321-1433
Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 875-5051
Phone (interpreter services, toll-free): 1 877 228-2557
Phone (interpreter services, Greater Vancouver): 604 675-4099

Arthritis Society

Phone (toll-free): 1 866 414-7766

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 714-5550



Assisted Living Registry

Phone (toll-free): 1 866 714-3378

Phone (Greater Victoria): 250 952-1369


Mailing Address: PO Box 9638 STN PROV GOVT

Victoria BC V8W 9P1 Website:

BC Cancer Agency

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 663-3333

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 877-6000


Brain Health for Seniors – Five easy steps to help you promote your brain health. Website:

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and what you can do to help reduce those risks.

Website: factors

Canadian Diabetes Association

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 226-8464

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 732-1331



Dementia Helpline (First Link©)

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 936-6033, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, Monday to Friday

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 681-8651

Website: helpline

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

National Office

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 268-7582


Lower Mainland Chapter Office

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 689-3144


Osteoporosis Society of Canada (B.C. Division)

Phone (English, toll-free): 1 800 463-6842 Phone (French, toll-free): 1 800 977-1778



Parkinson Society British Columbia

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 668-3330

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 662-3240



Mortgage and Home

HomeOwner Grant for Seniors – For more information about the homeowner grant and the low-income supplement, including who qualifies and how to apply, visit:


Seniors’ Housing & Support Initiative (Union of B.C. Municipalities)

Phone (Greater Victoria): 250 356-2947


Website: housing-support-initiative.html

Seniors’ Supportive Housing

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 257-7756

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 433-2218


Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters Program – The Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program provides monthly cash payments to subsidize rents for eligible B.C. residents who are age 60 or over and who pay rent for their homes.

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 257-7756

Phone (Metro Vancouver): 604 433-2218



Allowance/Allowance for the Survivor

Phone (Canada & USA, English, toll-free): 1 800 277-9914
Phone (Canada & USA, French, toll-free): 1 800 277-9915
Phone (Deaf/hard-of-hearing, toll-free): 1 800 255-4786

B.C. Low Income Climate Action Tax Credit

Websites: (enter “low income climate tax” in the Search field)

Canada Pension Plan

Phone (Canada & USA, English, toll-free): 1 800 277-9914

Phone (Canada & USA, French, toll-free): 1 800 277-9915

Phone (Deaf/hard-of-hearing, toll-free): 1 800 255-4786


Phone (toll-free): 1 800 959-8281


Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits

Phone (Service Canada, toll-free): 1 800 206-7218


EI Compassionate Care Benefits

EI provides compassionate care benefits to persons who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death.


EI Sickness Benefits

EI provides sickness benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of sickness, injury, or quarantine.


Federal and Provincial Non-refundable Tax Credits


Phone (toll-free): 1 800 959-8281


Website: (enter “British Columbia income tax credit” in Search field)

Goods and Services Tax (GST) Credit

Phone (toll-free): 1 800 959-1953


Guaranteed Income Supplement

Phone (English, toll-free): 1 800 277-9914
Phone (French, toll-free): 1 800 277-9915
Phone (Deaf/hard-of-hearing, toll-free): 1 800 255-4786


Income Assistance for Seniors Not Receiving Old Age Security Pension – If you are 65 or over and not eligible for the Old Age Security pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, you may be eligible for income assistance from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation. Eligibility is based on your income, assets and shelter costs.

Phone (toll-free): 1 866 866-0800; press 3

Old Age Security (OAS) Pension

Phone (English, toll-free,): 1 800 277-9914
Phone (French, toll-free): 1 800 277-9915
Phone (Deaf/hard-of-hearing, toll-free): 1 800 255-4786