CBC News recently reported on two cases of elderly couples who were forced to live apart in different care facilities in British Columbia.
William and Anita Gottschalk were forced to live apart after 62 years of marriage because the family could not locate a single facility that would accommodate their different levels of need. William, 83, suffers from dementia and lymphoma and requires greater care than his wife Anita. According to CBC News, William was recently transferred to a facility, blocks from Anita, to allow him to receive the care that he requires while he waits for an opening in Anita’s facility. To date, they have been separated for eight months.
Alfred, 95, and Emma, 87, Sagert also found themselves in a similar position when Emma was no longer able to return to the facility that she shared with Alfred after suffering several small strokes. The Sagert family did the best that they could to transport Alfred to Emma’s new facility “because they just needed to be together”. Happily, Alfred and Emma were also reunited sometime this spring, although the family believes that Emma’s health diminished as a result of her loneliness during their separation.
BC (Fraser Health) officials advised that reunification of couples like the Gottschalks and Sagerts are a priority and that 92 couples have been reunited in the course of the past year and a half. Interestingly enough the BC Community Care and Assisted Living Act, contains a Patient’s Bill of Rights which specifies a person’s right “to be treated in a manner, and to live in an environment, that promotes his or her health, safety and dignity”.
Hopefully it will be only a matter of time before the Gottschalks are reunited.
Thanks for reading.
A report released by the Vancouver City Savings Credit Union yesterday suggests that there is a disconnect between the intentions of testators and the expectations of family members who anticipate becoming the beneficiaries of their estates.
39% of millennials living in Vancouver expect to receive an inheritance of $300,000.00 or more from their parents. However, 66% of Vancouver parents expect to leave each of their children less than $100,000.00. Among reasons for the discrepancy are increased senior debt and longer life expectancies, which both play a role in the depletion of the assets available for distribution after death.
What may compound the expectation of children living in Vancouver is the obligation in British Columbia that a testator provide a benefit for his or her surviving adult children, whether they qualify as his or her dependants or not, absent a rational and valid reason not to do so. There is no such obligation in Ontario.
With the mean price of detached houses in Vancouver of $1.83 million, testators, especially those who intend to limit bequests to their children (rather than those with smaller estates), should consider whether their estate plans provide a sufficient benefit to their children. Testators in British Columbia and elsewhere should be encouraged to consider whether estate plans reflect all of their legal and moral obligations.
The results of this report highlight the need for more effective communication between generations with respect to estate planning. While approximately 80% of seniors in British Columbia have a will, less than half have discussed the transfer of their wealth with their children. Effective communication can be the key to managing the expectations of beneficiaries and avoiding family estate disputes.
Thank you for reading.