We’ve “lost” another one

This past Sunday evening, Elizabeth Buhler, believed to have been Canada’s oldest living person, died in Manitoba at the age of 111. Another two weeks and she would have been 112. May she rest in peace.

The National Post, in today’s print edition, advised us that Canada had lost its oldest citizen. Lost? where did she go?

I regularly read the obituaries, (yes, I’ll admit it, people’s lives facinate me) and at least 80% of the obits say that the deceased “passed away.” Sometimes they just “passed.” What did they pass, a kidney stone? a slower vehicle? Or did they omit to do something (like planning their will, maybe?)

I am always heartened to find an obituary where the family will admit the loved one “died.” What is it with us as a society, that we cannot bring ourselves to speak frankly about death, even when it affects us directly?

I ask this question because of what it means for estate planning.

Given that we have trouble speaking in terms of death and dying about people who have actually died, how can we expect people to admit they themselves will one day die? And if we can’t admit that much, is it any wonder so few of us actually get to the point of planning for that day?

I recently had an elderly client come in, wanting to make a will. She mentioned, apologetically, that she needed a will because she’s getting older and several close friends had recently died. I think it’s great she recognized that she needs to do something before it’s too late.

But how many of us can actually know when it will be “too late”? That bus could run over me today. I hope not until much later, but it could happen sooner. And if it happens to you sooner, what will your loved ones say about you? That you “passed” on doing any planning?

Make the effort to talk about this difficult topic, because if you don’t it could be a whole lot tougher for your loved one after you have (gasp!) died.

About Maria Holman

I am a lawyer with over 28 years of experience in drawing up wills, trusts and estate plans, helping clients with probate and estate administrations and advising business owners and families about planning for the future. You can find me at Webster Hudson & Coombe LLP in Vancouver, BC
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