Crossgrove Blog

How financial and estate planning can reduce money stress

Thu, Mar 9, 2023 5:00 PM GMT


Have you talked to your partner and parents about making a will and other end-of-life decisions?  


Financial planning remains less prevalent in Canada than it should, with most people polled recently saying they do not have a plan.


The survey by Co-Operators discovered that almost half of participants believe their income will not keep up with the cost of basic living expenses this year.


Just one third said that they are feeling positive about their financial situation while the same percentage said that their finances would be in better shape if they had a financial plan.


"The current economic climate continues to apply significant financial pressure on Canadians," said Rob Wesseling, President and CEO at Co-operators. "With so many Canadians worrying about making ends meet and so few leveraging a financial plan to guide them, it's clear that credible financial advice and education is needed now more than ever, to empower Canadians with the solutions and support they need to navigate today's affordability challenges."


Better with help

Working with a financial advisor made 58% of those that do feel confident about their financial decisions and 56% said it helped them worry less about their finances.


Those who have an FA were also 42% more likely to say they were able to meet basic expenses and set aside some savings and twice as likely to feel their investment habits are setting them up for future financial success.


"The survey results are crystal clear: financial advice is a critical tool that's proven to help Canadians feel more confident about their financial futures," said Jessica Baker, VP of Co-operators Advisor Network. "Many people feel they don't know how to save or believe they can't put money aside – a feeling that's especially acute during tough economic times. The good news is, there are ways to cover basic expenses today while putting a little away for tomorrow."


If your partner were to pass away, how confident would you be about managing your finances alone? In a new survey commissioned by my company, Willful, and Angus Reid, we found that among Canadians who are married or in common-law relationships, women are significantly more concerned than men about being left with financial challenges if their partner were to pass away: 60% of women versus 44% of men. Of those women, 25% said they were “very worried” about being left with financial woes.


On average, women in Canada live four years longer than men. Canada is also in the middle of the largest intergenerational wealth transfer in history, which will see an unprecedented amount of wealth pass primarily to women to manage. The reality is that women are more likely than men to be alone and financially self-reliant in their later years. Having a carefully thought-out financial plan—and ensuring loved ones also have financial plans in place—is critical to preparing for both unexpected life events and the future in general.

Ensure you know your spouse’s wishes


Two-thirds (66%) of Canadians don’t know the end-of-life wishes of their spouses, according to our research at Willful. My husband and I started Willful after his uncle passed away in 2015. We learned that he’d never discussed his end-of-life wishes with his wife, leaving her—and the wider family—struggling to balance our grief with paperwork.

All too often, my customers tell me that their spouse is dragging their heels and avoiding getting their will done because they don’t want to contemplate tough decisions. Death is an uncomfortable subject for many, but the consequences of not having end-of-life plans will likely fall on women, due to our longer life expectancy. It’s in our best interest to ensure that our spouses have up-to-date legal documents (including a will) and a life insurance policy that names us as the beneficiary.


It’s also important to simply have these conversations. Part of my mission is to remove the stigma around discussing estate planning. I often tell my customers: Pour a glass of wine and ask your partner what kind of legacy they want to leave. This, to me, is a softer way to broach the subject than asking, “Hey, when you die, what do you want to happen?”

While we know Canadian women are stepping up and taking control of their financial lives more than ever before, I encourage all women to continue to have a vested interest in household financial matters. This isn’t necessarily a gendered issue—it’s sensible for both spouses to have a handle on finances in case one has to step in during an emergency, and it’s an additional layer of protection women can add for themselves. Whether we pass away first or not, we should empower ourselves with knowledge about household finances—including budgeting, bills, loans, insurance and investments—to ensure we aren’t left in the dark in the event of divorce, illness, injury, death or a change in circumstances.

Encourage your parents to start estate planning


Women are more likely than men to bear the burden of being a caregiver, whether that’s caring for children, their spouse or aging parents. For Canadian women like me in the so-called “sandwich generation”—caring for both our kids and our parents—it’s crucial to ensure our parents have comprehensive end-of-life plans in place. Our generation will likely find ourselves becoming the executors of our parents’ estates, or assisting the executor with everything from closing our parents’ bank and investment accounts to planning celebrations of life. In a 2021 Willful and 1Password survey of 1,000 Canadian millennials, over half of respondents (56%) said they don’t have access to their parents’ online accounts, and about a third (29%) aren’t sure if their parents have a will.

Make a plan for your kids


Future-proofing your life also includes ensuring that your children will be taken care of. I have a 16-month-old daughter, and one of my main financial goals is to ensure she’s set up for success. My husband and I have already set up a registered education savings plan (RESP) to fund her higher education, named her as the beneficiary of our life insurance policies and wills, and chosen guardians to care for her in case anything happens to us. While I hope the will and life insurance won’t come into effect for many decades, they’re there if needed, and they will significantly ease the burden on our child.

I also feel an obligation to educate my daughter about finances, just like how my mom encouraged me to read The Wealthy Barber when I was growing up. Financial empowerment can start at a young age. I’m reading Robin Taub’s book The Wisest Investment: Teaching Your Kids to Be Responsible, Independent and Money-Smart for Life (self-published, 2021) so I can teach good money habits early and, I hope, raise a financially empowered daughter who can carry on that tradition.


While it’s never fun to plan for an emergency, COVID really highlighted that the unexpected can happen anytime, and that it’s crucial for us to have these conversations before a crisis hits. By encouraging our spouses and parents to get organized, and by being organized for our children, we can empower ourselves with the plans and knowledge we need to avoid financial stress down the line.

Crossgrove and Company offers much more than product placement, we offer comprehensive Estate Planning services. Our experienced financial planning professionals will help you identify risks or conflicts that may arise from the current estate plan and work with you, your accountant and legal advisors to coordinate and help implement the most efficient and effective transfer of assets to your beneficiaries using the latest best practices.

References: Money Sense, Wealth Professional