Posts Tagged "Canada"

The Vulture Generation

Posted by on Mar 1, 2012 in Power of Attorney, Powers of Attorney | 0 comments

Originally published December 2010, Reader’s Digest magazine.  Copyright (c) 2010 by Reader’s Magazines Canada Limited. Further reproduction or distribution strictly prohibited. Reprinted with permission. The elderly and infirm routinely delegate control of their finances to family members but more and more Canadians are abusing that power. Can our aging population trust its own children? BY RISHA GOTLIEB On June 24, 2007, Tony Budkowski got an unexpected call from his mother’s nursing home in Oshawa. The home’s regular contact was Tony’s sister, Heather, but according to the administrator, Heather had left the country. “Instantly, I realized something was amiss,” says Budkowski. “Why didn’t my sister want me to know she’d be away and unavailable to help our mother?” He also learned the nursing-home fees had gone unpaid for eight months. “I knew my mother had enough to cover her bills, and my sister, who had been given power of attorney to pay these bills, had full access to Mom’s bank accounts.”  Budkowski started to investigate, but was stymied when he tried to obtain his mother’s banking records. He turned to the Durham Regional Police for assistance. Luckily, his file ended up in the hands of Sgt. John Keating, who Budkowski says is “very passionate” about protecting the vulnerable and the elderly. With Keating’s help, he eventually got the bank to hand over the records. “My sister had made off with our mother’s life savings, leaving her with $270.” Keating arrested the sister, and on June 10, 2008, she was sentenced to two years house arrest and three years probation, and was ordered to repay $92,000. This, says Keating, is one of the harshest convictions ever seen in Ontario’s Durham Region for abuse involving power of attorney (POA). Budkowski’s mother had Alzheimer’s. Her death earlier this year, at the age of 95, left unanswered questions about her POA document. “Did my mother know what she was signing?” asks Budkowski. “Or was it even her hand that signed it? I have my suspicions.” POA abuse stories are surfacing in every community across Canada. The Canadian government estimates that as many as ten percent of seniors are affected. “And financial abuse involving powers of attorney is the most rampant,” says Laura Watts, national director of the Canadian Centre for Elder Law in Vancouver. “Abuses are grossly under-reported. Victims are reluctant to come forward if the exploiter is a family member, due to feelings of shame, fear of exposure and even fear of being denied access to grandkids.” The situation—which Watts describes as “a national crisis”—is forcing legislators, the courts and police to re-evaluate their responses to reports of POA misuse. “I’ve heard over and over from seniors who have taken their complaints to police, only to be told this is a civil matter,” says Brian Trainor, a retired Saskatoon police officer and one of the first in Canada to investigate POA abuse cases. Keating has heard similar complaints, and maintains that a change is necessary. “The whole system needs to be revamped,” he says. “We need to start recognizing theft by POA for what it really is: a crime.” A power of attorney is a document that legally appoints  one individual (the “attorney”) to act on another’s behalf. Each province has its own POA legislation and terminology, but generally speaking, there are two types of POAs: those that grant authority to manage assets and those that cover personal care. For a POA that grants authority to manage assets, you can decide whether you want it to be continuing or noncontinuing. A continuing POA will stay in effect even if you become mentally incapable,...

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Tax Filing for Low Income Seniors

Posted by on Mar 1, 2011 in Financial and Tax Matters | 0 comments

Seniors may feel the effects of a major change in tax filing procedures for Canadians introduced for the 2012 tax year. As a cost-saving measure, the Canada Revenue Agency is “encouraging” Canadians to file our returns on-line. Beginning this year, paper forms will no longer automatically be mailed out! However, you have these other options: Pick up forms at a post office or Service Canada outlet (tax office). Download and print forms from the CRA website Order a copy from CRA by Internet or by phone. Call 1-800-959-2221. Note that the TELEFILE service has also been discontinued.    Since these changes presents a potential problem for persons with mobility issues, please plan well ahead for yourself and your loved ones…and help spread the word. For more information, consult this web page. April 30 is the deadline for filing personal income tax returns in Canada. Maybe you (or a senior in your family) feel that, because you have a low income, filing your taxes can’t possibly make a difference to you or the government. However, filing a tax return can be especially important for low income seniors. Many Government of Canada programs that help low income seniors require that you file a tax return. In some cases, the application for the program can be submitted with your return. Some low income seniors may struggle to complete their tax return, or may need physical assistance to read and to complete their return. Help is available in many communities, in different formats. • Volunteer Clinics – Volunteers meet with you and help you complete your tax return. Usually clinics run at specific times and places. You may need to pre-book an appointment • Do-it-yourself clinics – Bring all your paper work, T4, tax forms, and learn how to fill in your own return. • Drop-off service – Bring all your paper work and drop it off. Your return is completed by a staff member or volunteer and you return to pick it up at a specified time. Again, you may need to book an appointment.  Volunteer tax preparation clinics are offered every year between February and April in various locations across Canada. For more information about these free services, you can: 1. Search online for “volunteer tax preparation clinic” with your city or town, 2. Call the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281 3. Click on www.cra-arc.gc.ca/volunteer/. This article was updated in February 2013 Vol.2, No.8; © ElderWise Inc. 2006-13. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning.  Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter....

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Long Term (Care) Planning: It’s Not Just for the Old

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Planning | 0 comments

Canadians have been quietly caring for their elderly for hundreds of years. Suddenly, however, it seems that long term care has worked its way from obscurity into the national limelight virtually overnight. If you consider the state of the country, the reasons are obvious. Canada’s population is aging rapidly. According to a Statistics Canada 2001 report the number of people aged 65 and over is expected to double from nearly 4 million in 2000 to almost 8 million by 2026. By 2016 at the latest, Canada will have far more seniors than children aged 14 and under, a phenomenon never before recorded. The most rapidly growing age group, however, will be those over 80. Canada’s health care system is being restructured province by province; change and upheaval are the norm. The only sure thing seems to be less money and care for the old who require the most care. Canadians are worried. By 2031, over 750,000 Canadians will have Alzheimer Disease or related dementia unless a cure is found before then. Almost 25 per cent of Canadians now have someone with Alzheimer Disease in their family. Family caregivers are beginning to understand that caring today does not last for a few weeks or months as it did in the ‘old days’ – it can now last up to twenty years or more, completely disrupting one’s personal, work and financial life. There is an undeniable financial burden involved in long term care. No matter where care is provided – in the home or in an institution – families invariably end up paying for some products and services out of their own pockets. In fact, informal caregivers’ financial subsidy of cost of services delivered to the home, and in casual expenditures (food, laundry, gas, parking, etc.) – total about $100 mission a week or more, suggesting that caregivers spend at least $5 billion a year. Many caregivers report they have had to cut back on their personal budgets, use up their savings or borrow money to meet their caregiving financial obligations. Although many of us are aware of these care realities, Canadians continue to put long-term care planning on the back burner. “It won’t happen to me”, “My spouse will look after me”, “The kids will look after me”, “The government will provide for me” – continue to replace critical planning steps we all need to take.  These include: 1.    Looking after our health. Diabetes and obesity are running rampant among adults – and our children 2.    Talking to our parents and spouses about what we all want as we age 3.    Talking to our financial advisors about what we want as we age, and together coming up with a plan to ensure we have the financial and social resources to care for ourselves till the end of life.   It’s never too early or too late to start planning for long term care. As the saying goes: Just do it! Guest Author: Karen Henderson, Founder, Caregiver Network    Vol. 2, No. 20; © Karen Henderson, 2005...

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Volunteering: Benefits for Seniors

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Health Signals | 0 comments

Why do Canadian seniors volunteer? A survey of senior volunteers in Canada finds that 95% volunteer for a cause they believe in.  Seventy percent said they volunteered for a cause that had personally affected them. Some volunteered as a way to use their skill base and years of experience (81%). Others were looking for a way to explore their own strengths (57%).  What else motivates seniors to volunteer? Developing new skills and staying connected to their own passions inspires many seniors to volunteer.  Volunteering leads to meeting new people, staying active in the community, and serving others. It can help keep cultural or religious traditions alive.  Some older persons also find the chance to fulfill lifelong dreams and create new ambitions through volunteering. Seniors who volunteer report feeling very satisfied with their lives…AND they report that sentiment at a higher rate than seniors who do not volunteer. What can volunteering do for YOU? Volunteering can improve your health.  It can enhance self-esteem, coping abilities, and feelings of social usefulness.  Volunteering increases social activity. Research into health benefits of volunteering suggests that forming these social relationships acts as a buffer against stress and illness. Some experts even conclude that social relationships may be as important to overall health as avoiding risks such as smoking and high blood pressure. How can you find the right organization? The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) suggests asking the following questions to help define the best volunteering opportunity for you: Why do I want to become a volunteer? What are the benefits I am looking for from volunteering? What skills and abilities can I offer? What do I enjoy doing? What do I dislike doing? What issues are important to me? How much time can I give? What times are most suitable for me? Reasons for volunteering may be as profound as feeling an ethical pull to help change Canadian society – or as lighthearted as wanting to get to know people in the community. But getting involved, on any level, not only benefits society. It also benefits the volunteer. Everyone wins. Vol.2, No.12; © ElderWise Inc. 2006 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning.  Visit us at...

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Definitions for POA and Health Care Directives

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Planning, Power of Attorney, Powers of Attorney | 0 comments

There are two types of “power of attorney”: one for finances and one for decisions about health and personal care. Both documents are drawn up by a person with “capacity”, i.e. the ability to make reasoned decisions, who wants to decide on his or her wishes for future medical care and treatment and personal care – in the event they are not able to give informed consent. This document is also known as a living will or health care directive may, and may contain or include: Appointment of a “proxy” who will assume responsibility for ensuring the person’s wishes are respected Health and personal care wishes that must be followed by health care providers, where the wishes are reasonable, possible, and legal. The first type is called a proxy directive. All provinces, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories allow proxy directives.The second type is called an instructional directive.  Several provinces allow this type of directive, as well as the proxy directive. Why have a directive? Manitoba Health provides this general suggestion for writing a health care directive, or “living will.” “Due to accident or illness, you may become unable to say or show what treatment you would like, and under what conditions. If you have signed a directive, those close to you and the health care professionals treating you are relieved of the burden of guessing what your wishes might be.”  Each province has specific legislation regarding health care directives. The ElderWise Guide, “Decide For Yourself”, provides web links to the specific details for each Canadian province and territory. You must comply with the legislation in your parent’s province if the directive is being prepared for them. Here is a scenario that is all too common for families who do not have advance care planning in place (names changed to protect privacy):  Clarence was 87 years old and had not named anyone to speak on his behalf. When his niece raised the topic, he said: “You’ll be there for me – and I know you will do the right thing.” But when Clarence had a stroke and was temporarily in a coma, his niece was unable to legally speak on his behalf because she had not been specifically named as Clarence’s personal representative.  Research the information that applies to your province (“Decide for Yourself” includes web resources for all provinces and territories). Discuss medical treatments, such as a “Do Not Resuscitate” order, with your doctor. Decide who will speak on your behalf AND get their consent. Write the directive yourself – or get help from a lawyer. Provide copies of the directive to your family, your doctor, and the person(s) named in the directive. Get full details about the contents of “Decide for Yourself”     Vol. 5, No. 8 © ElderWise Publishing 2009. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.   ...

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