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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Swedish death cleaning is the new trend

It's well known among estate planners and estate administrators that most of the household stuff accumulated over a lifetime is simply not wanted by the next generation. The days of passing down the good chinaware and silver are gone.

So what is the answer to the dilemma of what to do with your houseful of stuff?

I've recently come across an article about a process called "Swedish death cleaning". Apparently it's the process of taking years to systematically de-clutter your home before you pass away so that you don't leave a lot of work and unwanted items for your children to deal with. Click here to read an article in that explains the process.

I would personally like to see more people take on the challenge of ridding themselves and their homes of dozens - if not hundreds - of items that will only be sold or given away after the person's death. Every week I have at least one conversation with people who want to know what to do with their treasures because their kids have already said they don't want them.

Obviously you aren't going to get rid of items that you actually use, or the really special items that bring back good memories. But perhaps more of us could think about down-sizing some of the possessions that mostly sit in boxes or on back shelves.

The attached photo is the cover of a book called "The gentle art of Swedish death cleaning" by Margareta Magnusson and is credited to Scribe Publications.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Law Show: An approach that includes financial, estate, business succession, and insurance planning

In this week episode of The Law Show, we chatted with Carson Thistle. He has spent the last 30+ years advising individuals and families about finances, estate planning, retirement planning, business succession planning, and insurance planning at Thistle Financial. If you've ever wondered whether there is a way to learn about money and how to get your financial act together, you should listen to Carson. He has a unique approach and some fantastic ideas. Click here to go to and select the podcast you'd like to hear.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Where to look for a loved one's elusive will

BC lawyer Alison Oxtoby recently wrote an article about looking for someone's will. She has obviously run into the same situation that I and many of you readers have encountered - the search for a will that someone said he made but nobody can find. Click here to read Ms Oxtoby's article.

She mentions that she has heard of someone who kept his will in the freezer. In my experience, a lot of people keep them there. It has something to do with believing that if the house burns down, the freezer will still be standing (whether that's true or not, I couldn't say). It's at the point now that when people call me desperately searching for a will, I advise them to check the freezer. Now, don't misunderstand me; I am NOT suggesting this is a good place to keep a will. I do not agree that it's a good place. I'm just saying it's one of those things that some people do.

Every time I sign a will with clients, I have a chat with them about where they are going to keep their wills and the need for someone to know where the will is located. As Ms Oxtoby said in her article, it's not necessary for someone to know the contents of your will while you're alive, but someone needs to know where to find it once you're gone.

If you're one of those people who finds a secret cubby-hole hiding place for your will, maybe think it through a little more carefully. Have you deliberately concealed your will somewhere where you're sure nobody can find it and snoop into your business? If so, that's great while you're alive but the thing is, once you're gone, they still can't find it. If  you've rolled up your will in a shaving cream can or hidden it behind a photo in a frame, you might as well not have a will. Why bother, since nobody can find it when the time comes? Are you under the impression that you are going to have the opportunity and ability to tell someone the location right before you pass away?

Be sensible. If you had to locate important documents, where would you search? That's where you should keep your will. If privacy is an issue while you're alive, think about keeping your will at your lawyer's office or in a bank safe deposit box. At least those are places your executor will search, unlike the inside of the handle of the axe or the underside of the welcome mat.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Please vote for us as your fave law blog!

Well, friends, some of you must have nominated me for "fave law blog" since I made the candidate's list. Many thanks and I'd make you all chocolate chip cookies if I could. In the meantime, voting is now open and you can click here to vote for this blog.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Care home manager jailed for stealing thousands from 97-year-old woman

In Birmingham, England, an unnamed 97-year-old woman lived in a care facility managed by Carleen Wilkins. Wilkins used the victim's ATM card to withdraw money every day for about a year, taking a total of 90,000 British pounds (about $147,000). The elderly woman knew nothing about it and had never authorized Wilkins to access her bank account. Click here to read a story with more details from

Wilkins was busted when she took the victim to the bank one day, causing the bank to become suspicious and take a look at the activity on the account. Once she was caught and her first excuses were not believed by anyone, Wilkins admitted to taking the cash.

Now Wilkins has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail. Because Wilkins was the manager of the care facility and used her job there to steal the bank card, she was in a position of trust. In law, a theft by someone in a position of trust is considered to worse than a theft by a stranger.

I'm glad she's behind bars. She has no business looking after vulnerable people. The elderly victim in this case could have been left with absolutely nothing, and she might never have discovered who took  her money. As it is, she is never going to be able to recover the amount that has been spent.

I am so impressed by the bank that was proactive in looking after their vulnerable customer. I hope, however, that this story reinforces the need to keep an eye on elderly family members, other relatives, and neighbours who are on their own. While it's fantastic that this bank acted as it did, we cannot count on this happening in every case. It's up to all of us to check in with older family members and friends to make sure all is well.

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