Women’s finances

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Video 1 transcript

[Music]

 

- And we are live. Hi, everyone. Welcome to the first edition of "Invest in You," which is an online conference presented by National Bank. "Invest in You" is a financial literacy initiative designed specifically for women. Well, for those of you who don't know me, I'm Isabelle Racicot, and I'll be you host for the next hour, as we discuss the delicate issue of retirement planning for women. So, regardless of where you are in the process, whether you haven't started yet or you're well advanced, we will have really amazing advice for you. And we'll do so thanks to the help of four amazing experts. And I will introduce them right away. We have Angela D'Angelo. Hello.

 

- Hi.

 

- Angela, do you know how many people have registered for this?

 

- Last count, we were almost 3,000.

 

- That's amazing. That shows the importance of this conference. So, Angela is Vice President, Development and Client Experience, at National Bank Financial. We also have Hélène Belleau. Hello.

 

- Hello, Isabelle.

 

- Hélène is a sociologist and professor at the Institut National à la Recherche Scientifique. On this side, we have David Truong. Hi, David.

 

- Hi.

 

- You're the only man. Good luck.

 

- Yeah. No pressure there. [Laughter]

 

- He's an expert advisor at National Bank Private Banking 1859. And at the end, we have Nancy Paquet. Hi, Nancy.

 

- Hi, Isabelle.

 

- And she is Senior Vice President, Savings and Investment Strategy at National Bank. So, before we go any further, I want to invite you to write in your questions. There are no stupid questions, so please go ahead, 'cause we have reserved some time a bit later in this conference to answer your questions. But before we get into the subject, Angela, why is it relevant, in 2020, to talk about, you know, women and finances specifically?

 

- Well, Isabelle, women have growing earning power for several reasons. The first is that they will inherit from their parents at some point. There's a lot of money in motion going on around women. So, they'll inherit from their parents. They'll inherit from their husbands, because they tend to outlive them. And they themselves contribute to their own patrimony, because most women work today. And a third of them actually earn more than their husbands. So, for all these reasons, it's really important to start taking an interest in personal finances. Yet, only one in four women are actively engaged. And over the next decade, 90% of women will have to make financial planning decisions that will have an impact - a long-term impact - on their retirement alone. So, for all these reasons, Isabelle, it's the time to start now. And that's why we're having these conferences today.

 

- And I have to say, we did the conference in French earlier on today, and it's amazing what I've learned. So, you know, for the next hour, believe me, you'll want to take notes. Okay, so, now that we've set the table, let's start with our first subject.

 

[Music]

 

- Hélène, I've mentioned that you're a sociologist, you're a teacher, but you're also an author. You wrote the book "L'Amour et l'argent: Guide de survie en 60 questions," where you tackle the difficult subject of social use of money within the couple and the family. Why is money such a taboo?

 

- It is a taboo, a real one.

 

- Yeah.

 

- If you look at magazines, if you look at TV shows, they talk a lot about the good investments, how to make a budget, that kind of thing, but we never hear about how people manage money within a couple. And it's, well, I think it's more taboo than sexuality. It's really a subject that we don't hear about. And within couples, we made a survey, and we found out that about 40% of people say they never talked about their money management system and the consequences it could have on the short term or long term. And one of the reasons why it's so hard to talk about that kind of subject within a couple, it's because of… There are two things involved. There is money, and there is love. And money, well, the logic is the logic of market, where it's you give and take, you defend your personal interests, and so on. There is another logic, though. It's the logic of love, which is based on about eight codes of conduct, and two of them have a very big impact on the way people will talk, or not, about money.

 

The first one is the idea that the other in the couple should come first, before your personal interests. So, when you're talking about money, you talk about your personal interests, and usually, it doesn't go with love. And the other one is the fiction of duration. That means that, when you're living in a couple, in a relationship, you have the feeling that it will last forever. If I was asking you, "What are the divorce rate in Canada?" Probably, you would be able to… Well, 80% of you would be able to answer that it's about a marriage out of two that will end in divorce. But if I was asking you personally, "Are you going to get divorced?" It's not half of you that would say, "Yes, we will get divorced." It's more 80% would say, "No. We'll never get divorced." So, the fiction of duration has a very important social function. It works as a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, when you think that your relationship will last, will endure, you will put time, energy, money in it. And that will bring your relationship to keep going on. And if the opposite, you think that it will end pretty soon, you will stop investing in your relationship, and that will bring the end of your relationship. So, that's why it's so taboo. We don't want to think about the end of the relationship.

 

- And I'm listening to you talk, and I'm wondering, do spouses sort of hide part of their actual income and investment to their significant others?

 

- Well, in our survey, we found out that about 12% of people say that they deliberately, they really consciously hide money.

 

- Oh, I think it's even more than that, yeah?

 

- No, it's only 12%. But if you ask, when the people had to answer on the computer, it was more about 15%. And if they had to answer to an interviewer, it was more about 8%. So, we don't like to say that to everybody else.

 

- And coming back to the topic of finances being a taboo in a couple, Hélène, it probably explains why only one in four women today are actually engaged. It probably explains that low figure, or that low number.

 

- Yes, certainly. Yes.

 

- Absolutely. Well, you know, do women and men in relationship tend to plan their retirement together, or separately?

 

- It's only a minority who will plan it together. It's about 25%. Even if there are very big differences in income between the spouses, even among couples who say that they pool the money together, and they share it together, they share together in the day-to-day basis, but they don't do it for the long term. And even among married couples, and common-law unions, too. And one of the reasons for that is that we never forget where money comes from. And women, even though they earn less, even though they take care of their children, of the family, and they start working less on the payroll, even if they earn less, they don't feel as legitimate to ask their husband to compensate for the…

 

- Their loss.

 

- Exactly. So…

 

- And I would say, if I had advice to give you, it would be that, when you - if you plan for your retirement separately, you should make sure that your name is on every investment you're making. And if you want to do it separately, well, if you do it together or separately, you should make sure that your name is on the all the papers, and be there, and communicate, also, your desires to your advisor, and to your husband.

 

- Absolutely. But I can't believe we still have to mention this in 2020, right, the importance of having both of your names everywhere.

 

- And then, it becomes increasingly important when I listen to you, Hélène, to have the dialogue, to have the discussion with your spouse, to have the discussion with an expert, and with an advisor. And sometimes, it becomes important to have that discussion together, as a couple, with your advisor, but also separately. It's amazing what comes out in meetings with advisors when, you know, the woman is alone, and able to ask, and feeling free to ask any and what questions she wants to.

 

- Oh, that's an amazing tip. Yeah. Absolutely. You know, you've mentioned, Hélène, about divorcing and separating. But this is not something that we plan, obviously. So, how do we prepare for it?

 

- Well, one of the things is that people should meet their advisor, and ask more questions about their own situation. So, to prepare for it, well, as you said, we usually don't prepare for it. But you really have to meet your advisor, and ask many questions about it. Yeah.

 

- Yeah, so we have to take an interest early on. And sometimes, you know, women have such a heavy load in taking care of the family that we tend to delegate things. And unfortunately, 75% of women actually discover negative items following the death of a spouse.

 

- What do you mean, negative items?

 

- Well, they find out things like perhaps they're more indebted than they thought they should be, or perhaps they thought that the will was one towards the other, and it really isn't. So, these negative surprises could be avoided. But to do that, you need to take an interest early on. You need to ask the right questions. And sometimes, the workload, or the household load that we carry, as women, you know, takes priority, and so we're not getting the information that we need to be asking all those questions. So, my advice is get curious, and start now.

 

- Do men and women trade off contributions to the household? And I'm asking that because I do that with my husband.

 

- Well, the answer is "no," they don't trade off things...

 

- What?

 

- ...the same way. No. A funny thing is that, well, in a couple, there is money, and there is time. And one of the things is that men usually negotiate in silos, which means that they will talk about a domestic task, and negotiate that. And then, they will talk about money, and negotiate that, while women tend to balance both of it. So, they will say that, if they work part-time, they will do more domestic tasks. The problem is not the way we negotiate. The problem is really when you don't negotiate the same way within your couple. And it creates inequalities in the long run. So, if I had advice, it would be to tell you, tonight, to ask your husband, try to find out the way he negotiates, and to adjust to that. So, you could ask him, for example, "If you were working part-time, would you do more domestic tasks?" So, this way, you will see how it works. And this way, you can adjust whether you will negotiate in silos or otherwise.

 

- Oh, I can't wait to… I would love to be at their house for supper tonight, and find out how many people will ask the question. [Laughter]

 

- And I hope it's getting clearer that this type of conversation needs to start happening.

 

- Yeah.

 

- And it's not a one-shot deal conversation. This is a type of conversation that you're having recurringly. It's the type of conversation where you make time for it. And you know, if you get that extra time, because you've negotiated properly, then, hopefully, you're using that time for more education, and more curiosity. Interestingly enough, I wish I could say that this was only a problem of our generation, but young millennial women are actually… Studies show that they're delegating even more to the next generation of men. So, we need to take this matter in hand, and we need to be role models for our own daughters, and make sure that we behave the way we would want them to behave with their finances.

 

- How do we explain that? Is it because we're not, as parents, teaching our kids to have a financial education?

 

- Yeah. I have a theory. My theory is that women's brains are wired differently than men's, and one of the things women do is, they prioritize their family. So, any time a task, you know, takes two minutes or more, they tend to delegate it. And so, if finances is not something that you actually love, chances are it's gonna go at the bottom of the pile and you're not gonna prioritize it.

 

- I would say it's also the mental burden. So, if we had another advice, it would be try to find a task you could delegate to your husband, like taking care of medical appointments for the kids, or taking care of all the communications for school, or even money work that you're doing on a daily basis - because usually, it's women who are doing that on a daily basis. And so, take this time to invest it in the more long-term investment, to get to learn about it, to get involved in it. But take a part of this time that you have delegated.

 

- And we're talking a lot about couples right here, right now, but the same is true for single women. Whether you're married, you know, in couple with someone, with or without children, the same advice is pertinent for anyone.

 

- Absolutely. But it does show - I mean, last time we spoke, women in relationships tend to not care as much about the financial, and the investment, in the couple. And you said it, there's the mental charge, but...

 

- But also what happens, especially when children arrive in a family, women start working part-time, and they take a lot of the charge, the domestic charge, in charge. And so, what happens is that they don't invest in financial planning in the long run. So, the problem, often, also, is that they think that, to a point of time, it will be compensated by their husband, but this compensation doesn't come. And it costs a lot. When you look at all the years, women have invested less in their retirement, or in the planning in the long run. It accumulates all the years. And for women, it costs a lot.

 

- And I would tend to say, also, that, for women that do work full-time, have kids, the list of priorities is so long that, you know, really going to sit down, and talk about investment is probably not in your top five. But what I'm understanding today, and I am sure it's gonna be clear to you, also, by the end of this hour, is how important it is to move that up in your priority list, because it will have an impact in the long run, if not in the short term, right?

 

- Definitely.

 

- Yeah.

 

- Okay, so, I think we're done with this section, and we're gonna move on to the other one.

 

[Music]

 

- Alright. David.

 

- Hi.

 

- Hello. The only man here. I love this. David, just being a women has an impact on our retirement.

 

- Definitely, but just being a woman as is has many different, differentiation, but especially for retirement, I cannot speak for women, but I can speak on behalf of the different statistics that show towards the women and the amount that they're saving into their retirement. So, for example, since women experience more life events than men, that has a direct consequence towards their savings, and their retirement plan. So, for instance, women do go on maternity leave. They have children, they tend to go on an absence leave for more than men. So, therefore, if we look over the overall savings for retirement, it shows that, for women between the age of 45 and 49, they contribute less to their RSPs for the long run. So, it's roughly around $1,000 less than men. So, of course, that may represent a small portion for savings, but if you go look over the long run, that has a big impact over the many years to come. So, that is towards… Yes, it reflects on their savings. Another way that it shows that women have more planning to do for their retirement is because they contribute less, also, to the government pension plan. So, depending on which province that you reside, either it's in Quebec, or in the other provinces in the common law, so Ontario, Vancouver, or New Brunswick, for example. So, you contribute to the Canadian Pension Plan, the CPP. So, women, because they are less active than men in the work field, they contribute less, and therefore, in retirement, they will receive less than men. So, it's roughly around… For example, if we go on to some statistics, the maximum pension, on average, for a man, is roughly around $9,300, while women, it's roughly around $7,600.

 

- Oh, wow.

 

- So, it's $2,000 less. Again, it may represent a small portion, but you have to look at the big picture over the long run, you have how many years for retirement? Maybe 30, maybe 25. And we've seen that there's a lot of planning to do.

 

- You multiply that number by the number of years, right?

 

- Yeah, it's exponential. So, fortunately for women, it doesn't go all negative. So, fortunately for women, they have access to more, they tend to have jobs that are relatively more stable, with employers that have a well-funded pension plan for them. So, contrary to men, I would they're more "olé olé." They're more self-autonomous in their jobs, but women are more stable in their job over the long run. They have a tendency to what we call a relationship with their employer. So, they have...

 

- Loyalty.

 

- Loyalty, exactly, with a pension fund. So, that, a little bit, compensates on their end, too.

 

- And the fact that, you know, statistics show that women make less money, in average, than men, for the same job, also has an impact, I guess, on what they are able to contribute.

 

- Yeah, exactly. So, it all depends on what they want to achieve into retirement, and of course, you don't want to outlive your capital in the long run.

 

- And I'm sure Nancy wants to add a few things.

 

- Yes. So, well, women tend to live longer than men. I mean, it's proven. So, the longevity that you're talking about is that we may outlive the savings we've had. So, let's say we save less, and we live 5 or 10 years more than our spouse, if we are married or, if we have a spouse. That means that it's those extra years that you need to live without maybe having enough money. So, you need to start saving early. You need to have a clear strategy on the withdrawals that you'll make, because the way you withdraw, and what you choose to withdraw, will have a definite impact on your retirement. And also one rule of thumb is that, when you plan, try to plan where you're gonna live all the way to 80% of your "chance of dying." And I'm sorry to say "chance of dying," but the risk of dying. So, that means that we think women will live till 85? Usually, that's what we hear: men to 81, women till 85. But actually, that's not always true, because today, if you're 65, in a couple, chances are one of four women will live to 96. 96 years old is a long time to plan. You took your retirement at 60, that's 36 years...

 

- Almost the same amount of time that you worked.

 

- Absolutely. And even more so if you stopped working for the first couple of years where the kids were young. So, it really does have an impact. So, longevity and inflation will have an impact on your retirement. So, you really need to take the time to sit down with an advisor, and plan how you're gonna do it.

 

- Yeah, so, let's continue on this subject, because Nancy's talking about the life expectancy, and she said it at the beginning, women tend to live longer than men, yet they make less money because of experiences in life, as you've mentioned. So, can you give us a bit more information on that?

 

- Well, that is true. Women tend to, well, women live longer than men. Just not "tend to longer," they live longer, they do live longer than men, the statistics show. What Nancy was mentioning is all the longevity risks, because, then we all have heard that women tend to live till 85, men till 81, but that is the life expectancy. And we all know someone that outlived that number. So, we have grandparents that, maybe, are 90, 91, 95. So, we're talking about probability of survival rate. So, therefore, for women, it's especially challenging, not because they tend to work less in the work field, but also, they tend to live longer than men. So, there's different kinds of strategies that women can already put in place, that they could benefit, for coping that little…

 

- Let's hear them.

 

- Yeah, so, the first thing, we mentioned about the government pension plan. So, the government pension plan is provincial, specifically. They give roughly around $14,000 per year at 65. So, one way to maybe cope that longevity risk is to postpone, defer, that pension to the maximum year. So, the maximum years is till 70 years old. So, 70 years old gives you a bigger amount per year. So, it goes from $14,000 to $20,000 per year, forever. So, that's the thing - it goes on forever, forever, forever. So, for that gap that you're missing, maybe that deferring your QPP, CPP, will help you decrease that gap. So, that's one strategy. The other thing also, one pension we haven't mentioned before, but the Old Age Security. The Old Age Security is a federal pension, is non-contributive, which means that we don't contribute on our paycheck. We don't contribute. It's based on the treasury of the federal government, based on the number of years in residency. So, again, here's the amount of roughly around $7,000, I think, at 65, and it can go up to $10,000 if you postpone to the maximum of 70 years old. So, again, we're trying to decrease that gap over the long run forever. I have to re-establish that it goes on forever. And it's very low cost for women because if you consider the life-span of women versus men, women outlive men, live longer than men, so it costs less for them to postpone it to a later age. So, for them, it's totally beneficial to postpone it. The only thing that is not beneficial is if you need that money to pay for your groceries right now, and you don't have any more savings, so, therefore, the question isn't asked here.

 

- So, therefore, the importance of starting to save early, because your strategy works, and it's 30% or 40% more if you can postpone the withdrawal. but that means that you have something to live with between 65 and 50. And therefore, you need to have cash accounts, or TFSAs, or RSPs in order to put that strategy in place, but it does pay off in the long term. And I think one other strategy that we often use is that, we plan the retirement with "if I were alone" and "if I was a couple," right? So, that's something that you guys really do often.

 

- Yeah, so, it goes depending on, what can you do to make your situation better, depending if you are in retirement or not. So, of course, the first thing to do, here, is, regardless of, how is your matrimonial situation, if you're single or you're married, the first thing you need to do is, first of all, look for an advisor. Go see an advisor. Look for advice. And ask them to do your financial projection in the long run, your projection for retirement. So, that is your base scenario. So, your base scenario gives you the overlook of what my situation is right now, and then, after, what are the kind of strategies that can be put in place depending on my situation. So, for example, if you are single, and I'm not pointing at you because… I’m just…

 

- Is she?

 

- I don't know.

 

- I am.

 

- I didn't know. Sorry. [Laughter]

 

- If you are single, well, therefore, there is some strategies that you can apply yourself. So, it doesn't mean that you're single and you don't have access to anything. Of course, if you're single, you can actually… We mentioned it earlier, you can actually postpone or defer your government pension to the later years, if you have enough savings on the side. And one of the second strategies that goes with it, and I think you'll be mentioning that, before or after, is, "How do I withdraw from my savings, knowing that I postponed my QPP, my CPP, my pension plans from the government?" And that is being said that, "I have some savings. I have a TFSA that is usually tax-free. I can take out the money any time without any tax consequences. I have RSP, which is taxable." So, therefore, we want to know, "How can I withdraw money without having any consequences at the long run and making sure that I have enough money for the retirement on the long run." So, for example, if I put you in a different perspective, one individual doesn't have to pay income tax if their income level is below $15,000. So...

- Thank God.

 

- Yeah, thank God. That's at least something, right? We all pay taxes. But if you have less than $15,000, you don't pay taxes. So, let's say that, one year, you don't have any income because you postponed your pension plan to 70 years old. So, therefore, perspective, 65 to 70, no income, then I can actually try to level out my income today, which means to withdraw from my taxable plan, which is my RSP. Withdraw it today, just to make sure that I have a little income to pay no taxes at all, instead of putting it in the future, and pay taxes.

 

- There's a lot of advice in all of this. I don't know if I'm gonna retain everything. But the good news is that you'll be able to re-listen to this conference. So, if there are things that you're not completely understanding, it is fine. I want to go on because, you know, we're… You guys are so great at explaining why and how we should really plan, as women. Some women, right now, are very, very eager to start, or they are actually, they have actually started. So, what are some of the best advice we can give them?

 

- Well, so, the first advice, of course, is to seek out for an advisor. So, that's the first thing. So, there's many literacy books that you can read up on that. So, like Angela was mentioning, the first thing, the first step is actually to try to get involved into your planning, and just not to make it as, what my parents are saying, "Just let the government deal with it." So, that's the first step. Of course, that's just my immigrant background, here. [Laughter] So, that's the first step. The second thing is actually to try and understand what's available out there, to make sure that you don't outlive your savings, and to try to get the most beneficial from the government plan, your savings, and the advice that you're seeking.

 

- And if I could say… and I know Hélène talked about the loving part of a relationship, and it is important. But I'm gonna be a little bit more rational, less romantic, for two minutes. So, if you are younger, and listening to us today, you're not five years to retirement, or already into retirement, you need to have a very good conversation with the person you're choosing to be your common-law spouse, or your married spouse. Because the day you decide to have kids with this person, if you don't have the conversation about, "What's gonna happen next if we have kids, if I decide to work part-time, if we decide, as a family, to have a better quality of life?" If we don't talk about it when it's time to talk about it, and it's going well, and you're in love, what will happen next, when you're not agreeing on various things and you choose to split? So, really, I know it's not romantic, but you have to have those conversations in a very safe way. And meeting with an advisor could be a way to have that conversation in a safe environment, to learn about, in Quebec, it's “le patrimoine familial”. If not, it's the marriage contracts that you sign. Just so that both of you understand, because some men, Angela said it, 1/3 of women make more than men, so some men will also decide to stay at home and be stay-at-home dads. So, it really is important, when you are young, to have those conversations, so that you can plan for the impact. Okay, today, you're 30, but one day, you will retire. So, that's a great conversation to have, even though it's not romantic.

 

- But I really like what you're saying. And it reminds me that I often tell my friends, my girlfriends, to really be very independent in their finances, to really - whether they're married, or in a relationship

- to really think as if you're alone, and that nobody else will take care of you. I think that's the best attitude to have, right?

 

- Yes. Because then, if you do it, the only thing that can happen after, if you're in a couple, is that it's gonna get better, because there are strategies to split income on retirements. So, definitely, if you choose to be "okay" on your own, and then, you have the chance of being in a couple and retiring together, I mean, the tax strategies that your advisor is gonna provide to you, in terms of income splitting, will make a difference. So, if you're okay alone, you'll be okay with someone else.

 

- Oh, David wants to add.

 

- Well, that's the thing: there's many types. We've mentioned about one individual that's doing planning for their retirement, but of course, when we talk about married couples or common-law couples that are trying to make some sort of tax strategies for retirement in the long run, there is some strategies out there. So, there's a lot of them. So, we have just to be careful within the, "What is your matrimonial situation?" Are you married? Are you in common-law? Is it your second union? Is it your third union? Is it your fourth? There's a lot of unions that actually can happen. So, whenever you're in retirement, you have to be careful of - of course, tax strategy is like the candy, right? They give you… You pay less tax. But what happens? And who gets that benefit? So, what happens if you're not together anymore? And when you're married, of course, it's split. Everything is split.

 

- Give us an example.

 

- So, um, for my TFSA, right? So, my TFSA - tax-free savings account -  we already mentioned, everything that goes in there is tax-free. I'm married. I'm married. I don't have my ring right now.

 

- And we say "hello" to your wife.

 

- Hi, my wife. But I'm married. But if something happens, everything is split halfway because there's a family patrimony, and there is also the matrimonial regime that goes with it. And we're in the “société d'acquêts”, the partnership of “société d'acquêts”. So, if I contribute to her TFSAs, well, if something happens, it's split. Somebody that is common-law spouse, if you give toward that spouse, to maximize your tax strategy, you give to that spouse your TFSA of $6,000, well, you'd have to remind yourself that you're giving, and love costs something.

 

- You're not getting it back at the end.

 

- You're not getting it back. So, you've just got to make sure that love is in the air, everything is happy, and you hopefully hope for the best. But there is a way just to make sure that, in case of

- it's all "in case of," right? We call this the "cohabitation agreement," where, in case of something happens, I want to be protected like someone that is married. But I don't want to get married. I just want to be protected. So, the cohabitation agreement makes sure not only that I benefit from the tax strategy, but in case of my union gets dissolved. It ends, so I'm at least protected on that side, too, to make sure that, if he benefits, or if he or she benefits from tax strategies, I will get it back.

 

- Alright. Well, we're talking a lot about couples. What about single women with no children, or with or without children?

 

- Yeah. So, one thing that's interesting is that, obviously, if I never married, never had kids, well, my situation will not change when I get to retirement, right, because I've always been in charge of myself.

 

- Yeah.

 

- If I've had kids, and now they're grown, well, then, it has probably had an impact, because having kids costs money. Therefore, I might not have saved enough for me to retire. Right? So, and being the single person, maybe I was the one who took care of my elderly parents and, therefore, worked four days a week. So, being single over the long run doesn't change your situation, but you have no one to fall back into, financially. So, you have to make sure that you are protected, not only in terms of savings, but in terms of disability insurance, because if it does hit you, you're gonna be left alone. And disability can have a big impact, as well, on your retirement. So, it's simpler to manage, but you have to make sure that you are organized, because, again, you're alone. There's no one to fall onto. And if you inherit from your parents, make sure that, quickly, you do meet an advisor, because that might be the only chance where you're gonna get "financial" help in building your future.

 

- Well, also mentioning, for single mothers that have pretty young children, often the question that we get asked is, "Well, I want to save, but where should I save?" So, "Should I save in my TFSA? Should I save in my RSP?" So, this is one debate that's going on every year, every year, and even that you did it one year, you get the same question every year. So, especially for single mothers that have underage children - we have to remind ourself that underage children and not adult kids that are at home

- but underage kids' mothers have a lot of tax credit. And by contributing to their RSP, what we're doing here is actually to decrease their level of income, making sure that they get the full benefit of the different tax credit. So, for example, if you have what we call the daycare, right?

 

- Yeah.

 

- Daycare is based on your level of income. So, by contributing to your RSP, you're making sure that your income is at the lowest level as possible to make sure that you get a full refund back from your tax credit for daycare. So, I'm just saying daycare because I have a young kid, but I'm no single mother. [Laughter]

 

- Really? We didn't notice.

- Nope, not at all. But it gives a much greater importance for single mothers that have access to different tax credit to seek out for advice because there's many tax credit that they can benefit and actually base on their level of income. So, TFSA, RSP is not an easy question.

 

- And, plus, the younger you save in the RSP, well, obviously it grows without tax impact for so many more years. So, it's a very good strategy that can be implemented very quickly for a young single mother, definitely.

 

- I want to hear you, David, on, you know, to help women out there who are advanced in their retirement plan and who already have investments. What can we give them in terms of advice?

 

- Well, it goes beyond the simple aspect of retirement investment because when you seek out for a plan - let's call that a plan - a financial planner needs to operate, let's say operate into all the fields of intervention of financial planning. So, retirement and investment are part of the seven fields of financial planning, but there's many other interventions. So, we're talking about estate planning. We're talking about protection, like Nancy was mentioning before. We're talking about tax strategies. We're talking about also personal finance. So, let's say that if I have a mortgage at retirement, is it good or bad? We don't know, but that kind of aspect can be put towards a plan and make sure that we answer that question if it's pertinent for you. And also to see all the legal documents also that are well put into place. We are talking about the wills. We're talking about the power of attorney. We call this the incapacity mandate in Quebec. So, all of this makes sure that financial plan will need to make sure that you, that not only your retirement and investment aspects are well settled, but also all the other areas also are well done, too.

 

- I have a question, because I've started doing this exercise with my advisor where I sit and, you know, that person tells me, "Well, you know, according to what you've saved so far in your retirement plan and your investment, you should get X amount of money when you retire." So, this is an exercise that, you know, we have to do, but how early in life should we do that exercise? I mean, it's no point doing it when you're 30, right?

 

- Well, there's no point… Of course, what you're mentioning, at 30, you don't think about retirement at 30. But there's no good or bad age to do that kind of exercise. So, it's just to give you an overview of what's happening if everything is kept constant. So, if you decide to work till 65, 60, or 55… I want to retire by… I'm 45, so how can I do that? So, the only way is to make a plan.

 

- Yeah.

 

- So, depending on your different objective, your different goals. Some books out there are trying to say, like, take your retirement for you. You're seeing where I'm going there.

 

- I know where you're going!

 

- So, it's not impossible, but it requires a lot of love. But the most we see usually is, obviously, when you're young, at 30, I mean, just save. Save as much as you can because retirement, I mean, you are not even very well positioned in your career now, so thinking about retirement is maybe too far. But saving early will have an impact on retirement. But what we see usually with our clients is that when we get closer to 45, you know, kids are older, high school, maybe college, and then you're starting to look ahead and say, "Oh, my God, I could actually retire in 15 years or so." So, I think the early sweet spot is 45. Thank God if some people can retire at 45. But I say that it becomes more like a real thing, tangible, when you get to 45.

 

- You're talking about savings and the importance of saving, and I think that this pandemic has taught us that, you know, to have an urgency plan and to be able to have a cushion. And a lot of people had difficulties this year, but some people were able to save money. So, what should they do with that money saved? Should they, you know, transfer it right away in a retirement fund?

 

- Yeah, well, so, the first, and you mentioned it, but I want to make sure that we all catch it, is that we need to have an emergency fund. I mean, see what happened in April when so many people were not able to pay their rent or their mortgage April 1st? So, you need to have at least three to six months of income, net income, in an emergency fund so that you can face things that are impossible, right? And then obviously if you've saved that, and that you never touch, right? It stays there for emergency. If you have saved over and above, I think systematic savings is the way to do it because you "pay yourself first" so that you're always saving. The other, the second way is, then see with your advisor, do you still have room for an RSP? Is it the year where you will choose to put money in the RSP but not ask for the credit of it in your income statement and you'll wait for next year because you know that you're gonna have a big entry of money? Should you maximize TFSA? I mean, some people have not benefited from the TFSA yet. So, should it go into a TFSA? Should you do RSP and, with the return, you put it in a TFSA? There are so many ways to look at it. And if you have kids, RESPs could be a very good time to start investing for their school because they'll need to go to school for sure. So, there's a lot of strategy to be put in place, but when you have that extra dollar, you need to save it, you know? We don't need that fourth flat screen in the house. Sometimes it's tough as a discussion, but we need to have those discussions with our spouse, our kids, or with ourself in the mirror.

 

- Thank you. That was a really interesting segment. And, David, your wife called, and she says don't ever forget your wedding ring again. [Laughter] Alright? Okay, we're closing out this section, and we're heading to your questions.

 

[Music]

 

- Alright, so, now we're gonna start taking your questions, and we have one ready. "How can financial institutions make sure to pique women's interest in finance earlier in life?" Oh, Angela, I think you would be perfect to answer that question.

 

- I think I'd modify that question to say, "How could financial institutions and parents help pique women's interest in finance earlier in life?" Because we are role models for our girls, for our kids. And so the first thing I would do, I would probably use the link you're using right now to listen to us live, and I would have them or invite them to listen to it together and have a discussion and see what the highlights are that they understand or that they hear us talking about here today. The second thing is, I would behave as that role model, as I mentioned earlier on. We are role models for our young girls. And, you know, I'll give you the example of my daughter when she rented her first apartment. It would have been easy for me to drive down to Ottawa with her and sign on that deed, but what I did instead was I asked a lot of questions and I sent her to ask those questions. So, while I'm not saying - you might not want her to call your advisor and start asking questions about your investments, one thing you can do is ask your advisor if they'll help host a family meeting. Your advisor could easily accommodate you in doing that. And what they do in a family meeting is they don't even have to talk about the level of money that own or that you have invested. They could use percentages to illustrate the exact same strategies that David and Nancy were talking about. And when you have that and do that recurringly, at least once a year, get them involved. Have them hear you. You know, I've had discussions about how my retirement was much more important than that 40- or 50-inch-screen TV that we all wanted to get as a family. But have those discussions with your kids.

 

- Oh, I really like that. I didn't know that you could actually go as a family to see an advisor. I'm really, really liking this idea, absolutely. Okay, "How can you really make reasonable retirement plans when catastrophic events like COVID happens?" So, I don't know who wants to take it. Wait a second. The question is going on. "For example, I went from being an empty-nester for eight years, and now I have three adult children at home." Oh, I know. I'm so sorry. [Laughter] Yeah.

 

- Well, I can start with an answer for this. Usually retirement plans are done in the long run, right? So, retirement plans are not being micromanaged for a year or two. It goes on for maybe 20 years, 30 years.

 

- Mm-hmm.

 

- So, events like COVID hopefully won't happen every year. But other events will happen.

 

- Yeah.

 

- And usually retirement plans need to affect, to represent those unexpected events, let's say. We've talked about emergency fund. But in this case, for example, if COVID, if you have three adult children at home, well, hopefully they won't stay for 10, 20 years more. So, of course, it's a very short run, but your financial plan… If you've done your retirement plan very specifically with their standards, usually the little stuff like this won't have a negative impact on the long run over your retirement plan.

 

- Yeah, and kids can contribute. So, three adult children back at home, probably because school is now home-based, right? But they still can contribute. Maybe they have a part-time job. Maybe they can contribute with their time, as an example, like Hélène was saying, where they can do chores at the house. I mean, it's… Being a family is an enterprise, right? So, when it's tough for someone else in the team, well, you know, everyone is joining together. So, maybe it's a financial burden, short-term, for the parents, but kids can definitely contribute or work part time and "pay a pension" so that, you know, they can offset the risk of outliving the money from the parents.

 

- Great answer. We have another question that just came in. "Let's not forget the men that are listening." No. We know you're there. "How can they help as a husband, father, or a brother?" I love that question.

 

- Well, actually, there's lots you can do. The first thing is, you know, I get a lot of advisors telling me that they would love their women clients to come with their husbands to the meetings or the portfolio-management meetings...

 

- Well, have wine there. That's gonna help. [Laughter]

 

- Sorry.

 

- Agreed. And bring the kids along, too. They can have wine, too. [Laughter] And so the first thing is to, you know, I think, as men, you know, allow your wives to go maybe alone to those meetings. It could be together, but there could also be moments where, you know, the women are going to those meetings and meeting with the advisor alone so they can do a deeper dive into some of the questions that they have on their mind that they probably wouldn't necessarily do if you were there. So, I think that's really important. I also think that when you are in those meetings, leave them the space to ask anything that's on their mind. And if you feel that that's not coming through, help women articulate their ideas and their thoughts and maybe their uncomfort in some cases. So - and that goes along with what Hélène was saying this morning - take something away from them so that they could take that time that you're taking away from them, in terms of home tasks, whether it's homework with the kids or, you know, have that discussion and that negotiation so that they could invest that time in educating themselves a little bit more and preparing for those meetings. And if you want, even go on the nbc.ca/women - with an "e" - which is our new financial site for women, where we'll be populating a ton of information for you in order to prepare for those meetings.

 

- Yeah, and if we think about younger women, I mean, why isn't Dad bringing his 19-year-old daughter to a meeting like that so that he can educate. And not talking exactly about what's in their portfolio...

 

- Yeah, yeah, no, I get it.

 

- But really to have some sort of a financial-literacy class live with an advisor. That's something that will benefit. So, if you're an uncle, bring your niece, but definitely it's a responsibility that we all have. And the younger we start, it's not as scary as if you start at 45, right?

 

- Yeah, that reminds me of when I was younger. My father used to do all his financing and balancing at the kitchen table. And so he would educate us at the same time he was doing it, and it really stuck with me. So, yes, I agree. Okay, we'll take another question. "I made an appointment with a financial advisor at my bank. What are some important questions to ask regarding my retirement and starting an RRSP?" Who wants to take it?

 

- Well, I can take it, and that's definitely good questions. Well, first of all, that you're thinking about planning for your retirement - that's great. That's a very first start. The question that you need to ask yourself, or was it the question for the advisors, but the question that needs to be asked is, "When do you want to take your retirement?" So, what is your trigger points? When do you want to take your retirement? So, the other thing is, if you want to start on RSP, the question that have to ask is, "Is the RSP the better plan for your retirement?" So, we all have this idea that the RSP is really just for retirement, but now, since a few years, we all have known that the TFSA has been emerged and is now a lot. And TFSA has been contributing more towards the retirement and will go more and more towards the year. So, TFSA have a bigger impact and see, "Should I contribute to my RSP or my TFSA?" So, that's the question that we need to ask ourselves.

 

- And in preparing for that meeting, make sure that you bring the documents with you, so, your tax statements. You know, when we get the statement back and you see exactly how much "space" you have for RSP and TFSA, that's an information that, if your advisor has it as the first meeting, he or she will be able to give you a more precise advice than having, "Well, I don't know. I've been working for 12 years, and I don't think I've ever saved." So, bring the documents that you have. If you have investments elsewhere, bring everything so that it is a thorough conversation at the first start so that you get the right advice for you instead of general advice.

 

- Very good. Let me continue with the questions. You guys have great questions. Thank you. "Any tips in the process of finding the right financial advisor?" Angela?

 

- This is the only time I'm going to tell you that you should ask neighbors and friends for financial advice, and what I'm saying here is it's the only time. You know, I tend to like to deal with people that have been referred to me, and so if I was looking for someone to give me advice that is of such importance, I would probably want a recommendation. So, you could start with, you know, when you hear your neighbors and friends talk to you about their trusted advisor, you can ask them, "What is it you like about them? How long have you been dealing with them? You know, when you go to the meetings, what happens? What does it look like? You know, what are some of the objectives that you set out for yourselves that they've helped you accomplish?" That's what I call a referral, not just, "Would you refer Nancy?" That, for me, is just very high-level, so dig down a little bit. The other place I would probably start is with other experts: lawyers, accountants. These are all people that are exposed to individuals, in our bank anyhow, that are financial planners, that are advisors, and that know us. They know us because we work in the same community, and they'll be able to certainly refer you.

 

- And if I may add...

 

- Yeah.

 

- ...I would like to say that if, well, you can shop, in a sense. You can shop your financial advisor. And if, in the first meeting, you're with your spouse and the advisor answers or look at your spouse and doesn't answer your question, or even if he answers but to your spouse, you can ask him why he's not looking at you or answering your question. And maybe it's not the right one, so you can change. You really have this choice to choose your financial advisor, and it's really important to have this confidence, yeah.

 

- Absolutely. Okay, "For someone who just entered their 30s, what are your top recommended resources for a beginner in finance?"

 

- Resources? Well, you know, you have… Angela mentioned the website that we have. You have to go to trusted websites. I would say books, but I know most people in their 30s tend to be more online than anywhere else. And when I say "trusted," I mean trusted. When something is on Facebook, it might not be the right answer. So, go to your banks or your credit union to get information. Ask your dad, your mom, where are they looking for information? At your financial institution, there are probably guides that are available in preparing for buying a house, having your first child, and then, yes, eventually retire. So, there are tons of trusted information that's out there. Just make sure that you read them, and if it's not clear, ask questions.

 

- Alright, thank you. "What percentage of my salary will I need per year to retire comfortably?"

 

- Mm.

 

- That's a very important question.

 

- That's a very good question. And the answer is gonna be, "That depends."

 

- Of course!

 

- What do you define, or how do you define "comfortably"? Is it a cost of living of $50,000, $100,000? Like, I'm supporting my wife here. For her to live comfortably is around, she would say, $500,000 per year, so…

 

- [Laughter]

 

- I can live comfortably with $30,000 per year. So, it depends on what is your definition of "comfortably." But of course what Nancy was mentioning before, the more money that you put towards a savings, the better lifestyle that you might have for retirement.

 

- There's a rule of thumb. So, you know, talking with your advisor, you're gonna have the detailed conversation, but if you want to start working on it on your own, at home, there is a rule of thumb of 70% because when you get to retirement, you don't contribute to RSPs anymore because you're now retired. You don't have kids hopefully at home, or, if so, not for a long time. And you don't have to buy all those suits that you needed to buy. You don't eat at restaurants as often as you used to. So you could live with a little less. So, rule of thumb is 70%. But then, if you choose to travel three times a year or if you get sick and you need to have, you know, medication or you need to be put in a home or your parents are getting sick and you want to get involved, well, you know, that 70% can come to 110% in the beginning of your retirement. So, that's why, there's the rule of thumb and then there's the real plan for you.

 

- Alright. We have time for another question. "How can I prepare for unseen events in my old age? What can I expect?"

 

- Mm.

 

- I think COVID actually helped us do a lot of that. You know, when we look at how the aging population was the most vulnerable with COVID, one of the things that we started to ask ourselves as questions is, "How do I want my old age to be? And where do I want to be living?" And, you know, one of the things that happens is older people get attached to their homes and they can't see themselves living in an assisted-living residence or they can't see themselves living anywhere else but in their home. And I often say, I'm actually a full-time caregiver to my mom, and I often said to her when she had to make the decision of selling the family home, because she didn't have that autonomy anymore. It was actually a little bit too late for us to have those discussion. It took a long time, and her health was deteriorating, to the point where I had to make and impose some of those discussions. It was no fun for the caregiver, for me, and it was certainly no fun for her. So, my advice would be, start thinking about what it looks like, what your old age looks like, and where you want to see yourself, and that will help you determine the budget and the money you need to get there.

 

- Thank you. Thank you, Angela. Okay, we have this question. "Your tax strategies about deferring to age 70 could be advantageous. Where do you source deferral options or amounts at retirement or near retirement age?"

 

- So, I'm guessing here we're talking about…

 

- I don't understand the question, David. I hope you get it.

 

- Well, I'm thinking it's about, how do you make the deferral options applicable?

 

- Okay.

 

- Because usually what happens is the government sends you papers and asks if you want to apply for your pension at age 60 or 65.

 

- Okay.

 

- So, how do you do that? So, the answer is, don't ask for it. [Laughter]

 

- Really?

 

- The simple answer is, don't ask for it.

 

- "Forget me. I do not exist."

 

- "I do not exist" because the - and I think they changed the position at the federal level, but if they do just revoke or renounce - but I think for provincial government, they usually… you don't ask for it and automatically get postponed to later dates, until you ask for it.

 

- Yeah, and if you've asked for it, let's say a month ago, and now you say, "I've heard this conversation, and I don't want to have it," there's a short period of time, like six, seven months, depending on the government regime, where you can actually change your mind. So, if you've taken that decision very recently, it's still time to change your mind. So, meet someone quickly and make that change.

 

- Thank you. So many great advice today. I mean, we've said so many things in this last hour. Angela, you know, what are the takeaways?

 

- Well, you know, for me, a lot of what was said today starts with what Hélène shared with us this morning, which is about, what is our relationship with money and are we having those discussions? So, we don't want you to become experts. You know, when I listened to my colleagues Nancy and David… I myself am in the industry, and I get a fraction of what they're talking about. I have an advisor myself. What we want you to do is be more curious starting now. What we want you to do is be more engaged so that you're not having to face dealing with this stuff when those life events happen. And life events will happen. You know, whether it's death, illness, all these things that are unforeseeable and unpredictable. So, that would be my come-together. I also would like to stress the importance of being accompanied, of finding a fit with someone who will be able to give you advice. It's so important. There's a lot of expertise here. We do this for a living all day long, all the time, just like you probably do what you do for a living all day long. And so there is value in advice. And I don't know about you, but I would rather have more money in my pocket than giving it to the taxman. And there are tons of tax strategies that we could apply. Whether you're married. divorced, single, with or without kids, it doesn't matter. This conference today applies to every profile of every investor. And I would invite you to go take a peek at nbc.ca/women, with an "e." We're going to start really populating this site, and hopefully you'll be visiting us. And what I can tell you is that we put our whole heart into this and we hope to see you soon.

 

- Yeah. Thank you. And, you know, you can re-listen to this conference online if you click on your inscription link. So, I want to take the opportunity to say thank you for joining us today and to let you know that we're gonna have the second conference that will take place on March 23, 2021, and we'll be talking about protecting your financial assets, protecting your financial assets, and I hope that you'll join us then. Thanks for being there. Bye!

 

[Music] 

Video 2 transcript

[Music]

 

- Hello, everyone, and welcome to the second edition of the online conference “Invest In You”, presented by National Bank. “Invest In You” is a financial literacy initiative designed specifically for women. Well, for those of you who don't know me, my name is Isabelle Racicot, and I'm really happy to be spending the next hour with you as we will discuss managing our wealth and protecting our assets. And, apparently, as women, we're not quite on top of our game when it comes to these issues. So, I'm telling you, whether you're single or in a relationship, whether you have kids or not, and regardless of your age, you will have tips given to you today by our fine experts that I will introduce right away. We have Angela D'Angelo, Vice President, Development and Client Experience, at National Bank Financial. Hi, Angela.

 

- Hi, Isabelle.

 

- And I have to say that you're the brain behind these online conferences, so I thank you.

 

- Thank you.

 

- We also have Hélène Belleau, sociologist and professor at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique. Hi, Hélène.

 

- Hi, Isabelle.

 

- Last time we did the conference on retirement, you had some really interesting information about men and women and the differences, so I'm looking forward to hear what you have to say today.

 

- With pleasure.

 

- We also have David Truong, who's advisor, Expertise Center at National Bank Private Banking 1859. Nice to see you again, David.

 

- Hi. Glad to be back.

 

- Yes! Last time you were here, I was making fun of you 'cause you're married and you forgot your wedding ring at home. So how's it going today?

 

- Yeah. Well...

 

- Same thing?

 

- Same thing. I forgot it at home. I could find an excuse, but, yeah, I'm still married, though. Don't worry. [Laughter]

 

- All right!

 

- Sorry, ladies.

 

- Thanks for being here. And we have Suzanne Pringle, lawyer and founding partner of Pringle & Associates. A really well-known lawyer. Nice to have you here with us.

 

- Glad to be here.

 

- And normally, I think that you're pretty expensive, so we're getting free advice from you today.

 

- Yes. [Laughter]

 

- I'm kidding.

 

- And, yes.

 

- Okay. Well, before we go any further, I have to let you know that we are going to have a Q&A later on reserved for your questions. So, at any given time throughout this conference, you have questions, please don't hesitate to write to us, and we'll get to them a bit later on. But before we get to talk about wealth, I want Angela to explain to us why, in 2021, it's still extremely relevant to talk about women and finances.

 

- Sure, Isabelle. Well, the truth is, you know, women… I can't say this enough. Women have a growing economic power. They are more educated, they are more present on the labor market, and because of that, they contribute to their wealth. They save, they invest, and that makes things, you know, not more complicated but more interesting. So, today, and you know, the research shows that 75% of women regret not getting involved sooner in the management and participating sooner in the decision-making, with regards to financial planning. So, that's the reason we're here today. We're going to hear a lot about, you know, what are matrimonial statuses, what are - and, you know, because we have viewers from all provinces across Canada, we'll do our best to give you information that's higher-level but hopefully enough, just enough, to allow you to go back and get advice from your trusted advisers. We're also going to talk about the importance of having a will and a testament. And then, we're going to also ask those that are single and maybe getting into a new relationship today to stay with us, because this is probably where you'll see the most value. And we'll also, with Hélène Belleau, talk about what some of those sociological impacts are which still act as roadblocks for women becoming more involved in making these financial decisions. I think we are all in agreement that we spend probably most of our life in the accumulation phase, which means that we work, we accumulate, we invest. Well, I think it's as important to think about the different ways that we could protect these assets...

 

- Mm-hmm.

 

- ...and make sure that, you know, we keep more than we give away to the tax men. So that's what we're going to talk about today, Isabelle.

 

- Thank you, Angela. All right, let's get things started.

 

[Music]

- Okay. So that we're all on the same page, why don't we define what wealth is?

 

- Yeah, that's a great question. Well, wealth is, you know, the accumulation of moneys throughout your lifetime, usually with the intent of either spending it at the, you know, decumulation phase, when you're at retirement, or leaving it as a legacy in your will and your estate. So, the truth is, we spend most of our time in the accumulation phase. And, you know, sometimes this fluctuates. We may be in phases in our life where we have more money. For example, if we decide to get married and we accumulate our wealth together as a couple, we probably have more assets and more investments than we did being single. The truth is also true, though, if we have an unforeseen event, like the death of a spouse, we may actually also increase the value of our estate. But the same is also true if we go through a separation or a divorce where we could see that wealth shrink. So, keep in mind that these are all things that are related to the different life events that you're going to face. Hopefully, you won't face some of the less pleasant ones, but when you do, this is where the value of advice comes in and why it's so important to get advice.

 

- In preparing for this conference, I thought I was well-prepared, and I realized that there are a lot of things, a lot of blind spots I hadn't seen. So I had a few panic attacks, but I'm fine, so if you feel that way at any given time in the conference, I get you. I understand. But just take these advices, because they're really amazing. Let's talk about the difference between men and women, because, Hélène, we know that, in terms of money and salaries, we're not at the same place. So, where are we at right now, in 2020, in comparison to men, and how does it affect our wealth?

 

- Well, there are still differences which are reducing from a year to the other. Well, women earn about 90% of men's income. The problem is, when a couple has children, typically, women will reduce their time at work...

 

- Yeah.

 

- ...and men will increase it. So, the gap between the men and the women, within the couple, will increase. And we can expect, with the pandemic, that this gap will even grow, more importantly because lots of women have reduced their time at work to take care of their families or even some of them have quit. But these differences have a major impact in the long run. And so, we know now that women, actually, when it's time to retire, have 40% less income, retirement income than men. So this difference is huge.

 

- That's huge. That's almost a half.

 

- Yes, exactly. And the reason for that is that they have maternity leave, and sometimes they reduce their time to take care of the family. If you compare single women with single men with no children, they have about the same wealth. So, the difference is really having a family, children, or not.

 

- Can I give back my kids, then?

 

- No. [Laughter] No, I don't think it's possible.

 

- It's not an option, people.

 

- No. And also, there's another point is that women and men are not socialized the same way. Women, generally, are socialized to keep harmony in a couple. So, when there is a divorce, sometimes they will agree to have less just to preserve the relationship between the children and their father or the harmony. And, also, when there is a will, they are less likely to dispute the will than men will do. They are doing it more and more, but, usually, they will do it for themselves but also for their siblings. So, these are the main differences, I would say.

 

- You know, I listen to you, Hélène, and what strikes me is that gap that you talk about, where, you know, a lot of times, a couple will make the decision for, you know, the woman to stay home and take care of the kids or to reduce her time at work and go part-time, yet, you know, I think we do that consciously. We make these decisions consciously as a couple.

 

- Yeah.

 

- But I'm not so sure we're that conscious with regards to the impacts that you described in the number of years that we're not contributing to our investment plan or to our pension plans, which makes a difference over the long term. Over the short term, you won't feel it. So that really strikes me. And this is where it's important, if you're making this type of a decision, to really better understand these impacts and to be guided.

 

- Yeah, because I remember, our last conference, you explained that we also, as women, have a longer life expectancy, so we need to be able to know where our money grows and how it grows. And if I understand correctly, managing your wealth means that, not only are you making sure that your assets are growing on a long-term plan but that you're also able to protect it from any unforeseen event, whether it's a grave illness or a divorce/separation, or, again, you know, an unfortunate death. Right?

 

- Absolutely. Keeping more than giving.

 

- Yeah, okay. Let's talk about the fact that many women often leave their financial planner that they used as a couple after a separation or a death. Why?

 

- Well, one thing that we have to look at is the… Well, people don't like to plan a divorce, or they don't like to plan, also they don't like to think about getting divorced, or they don't like to think about death. And so, what happens is that, almost everybody knows what is the divorce rate: about half of the marriage ends up into a divorce. But if you ask people, "Do you think you're going to get divorced?" usually, they will say no, and it's about 95% of people will say, "No, we'll never get divorced." So they don't tend to prepare that. And for the will, it's the same thing. But what we found out in our research is that it's sometimes easier to draw a will than to write a cohabitant contract. Because to draw a will, it's kind of an act of love, because you say to your spouse, "Well, I'm going to love you even if I'm behind death." And so, one thing that we have to pay attention to is that, in Québec especially, we have a lot of common-law unions. It's more than half of people age under 50 years old.

 

- Wow.

 

- Which is huge. But if they don't have a will, what will happen is that it's the children and their relatives that will inherit and not the spouse.

 

- The spouse.

 

- Exactly. So, it's really important to, in one way, to prepare for a divorce or a separation but also to make a will. We know that about 50% of people who have children have a will before the age of 55. We know, also, that especially those who are in a long-term relationship will tend to make a will. But those who don't have children don't do it as often. It's about 20% of people who have a will. So, one out of five only who prepare a will.

 

- Wow.

 

- Yeah. So, it's a huge difference. And one thing, also, that is really important, it's with blended families. The situation is much more complicated, especially if one of the spouse has been married

- one or both of them has been married before this union. You have to make sure that this person has

- was divorced and did all the things, from a legal point of view. But Suzanne will talk about it a little later, or David.

 

- Yeah, you're so right, Hélène. You know, the complexity of families coming together, these blended families, is such a real issue. And, you know, it requires a lot of maturity between couples to get into that dialogue. And, believe me, it's not a one-shot deal. It's a combination or a continuous dialogue until one feels comfortable. The truth is, we sometimes procrastinate, and we don't want to have the conversation, so therefore, we don't have the will, and it complexifies things in the event of something unforeseen happening. So, my advice is, you know, don't wait till you get to that ideal dialogue or that ideal end state, that absolute ideal. Draw up a will based on what you're feeling at this very moment. It might not be the ultimate, you know, desire that you have at the end, but it's better than not having one. It reflects the desires and what you really want to happen at this moment. And don't forget: you can change your will. These are things that we encourage that you review.

 

- Yeah. And I'm listening to both of you talk, and I'm thinking, you know, as a single person, I should ask myself, "Do I have my papers in order, regardless?" and that's going to protect me whether I'm in a relationship, married or not, whether I'm in a second or a third relationship. Like, just as yourself, alone, you should be taking care of your things and having that. And that said, I think it's really the right moment to talk about the legal aspect of things.

 

[Music]

 

- All right. That's when it gets tricky, right?

 

- Oh, yeah.

 

- [Chuckling] When we get into the legal aspect of things. Okay. So, we talked about the importance of protecting our wealth. Let's talk about the major differences, in terms of law, between couples that are married and those who are living, what we call, in common law. And I just want to be precise, because Angela did mention that we did have people here listening to us from across the country, from coast to coast to coast, so we understand that, you know, every province has different legislations, so we'll just, you know, try and give you the broadest picture as possible.

 

- Yeah. So, you're asking the differences.

 

- Yeah.

 

- They're enormous. In Québec, let me talk about Québec, and David will explain it a little later how it is different in other provinces and territories, mind you. So, in Québec, if you are married, there's three specific consequences that are very different than if you live together. The term "common law spouses" doesn't even exist in Québec. There's no definition except for, of course, tax purposes, as you would know. So, without a contract or anything signed, when you get married, you benefit from what we call the constitution or of a family patrimony. Family patrimony is of public order. You have no choice. You can't sign a contract. You cannot opt out. What is it composed of? Family residences, be it the primary family unit or other residences. It is composed of the furniture of the family, the cars, the RRSPs and all pension funds that are designated by law. And this is irrespective of who owns, who is the legal owner of that, let's say, all of that property, okay?

 

- Okay.

 

- So you share this equally at the end of the marriage, at the dissolution of the marriage. So, also, if you sign nothing, you get married in Québec, you do have a matrimonial regime...

 

- Yeah.

 

- ...which is called partnership of acquests, meaning that all of the property or whatever that is not included in the family patrimony will also be shared equally at the end of the marriage. And the most important one in Québec is, when you get married, you're entitled to ask for spousal support when you separate or divorce, whereas, when you're not married and you are living with someone, have a partner, be it for one year, 10 years, 30 years, there's no family properties that is accumulated and shared in the end, and you are absolutely not entitled to ask for spousal support. This is why we urge people to sign a cohabitation agreement, because if they do not sign a cohabitation agreement, there is no possibility of what I told you before: property and spousal support.

 

- And that's even, as in Québec, like Suzanne mentioned, we've got our specific, like, details of our own jurisdiction, but imagine with all the other provinces, not only that it can vary from one province to another, but the definition, also, of what we refer to a common-law partner also varies from… For example, if you're residing in Ontario or in B.C., it's completely different, in terms of "How do we define to being partners? What are the rights of each partner?" And, of course, now we're residing in each province like one time, but let's say that, if we want to move to another province, then you might want to consider, "Well, what is the impact of my rights if I move to another place?"

 

- Yes.

 

- So, that is, for example, here in Québec, we don't have any - like you mentioned - common law doesn't exist. We have de facto spouse, "conjoint de fait". But in the other provinces, we have the common-law partner, we've got the AIP in Alberta, and each and every one have not even the same rights, so which means, like, for some of the common-law partners, they're entitled to some of the family property. So, it depends on the province. Don't take it for granted.

 

- So, number one, check what your province says about common-law status.

 

- It's so important that - recently, in the last year, in Ontario, because of the definition of "spouse," a couple who had never lived together, they both had their own homes, they spent weekends here and there, her house, his house, they traveled together, but they were common, you know, they were seen together and as a couple outside for everybody.

 

- Yeah, they were considered a couple.

 

- Yeah, they everybody considered them a couple. Well, within the definition of "spouse," of the Ontario Law Act - Ontario Family Act - they met the definition of "spouse."

 

- Oh, my gosh.

 

- So when they separated, the "wife" got $53,000 of that spousal support per month for 10 years.

 

- [Gasps]

 

- Now, this is very important. You must know if you fit in the description, the definition. In Québec, it doesn't exist. I said it earlier. But you have provinces that are very liberal, where you have family property that is established during the relationship, but you're also entitled to support - spousal support, I mean.

 

- Yeah.

 

- But the main difference, I must say, in all of the common-law provinces, you're entitled to opt out. You can have a prenup. We call it, you know...

 

- Yes.

 

- You know, it's fashionable to say "prenup."

 

- Yes, like in Hollywood.

 

- Like right there.

 

- A prenuptial agreement.

 

- A prenuptial agreement. And, usually, people, contrary to Québec, I must say, where people, when they negotiate a marriage contract, are both represented by independent counsel. And they may opt out, which we cannot do with family patrimony in Québec.

 

 

- Ah, okay. I was going to say, can we give… Like, I love having concrete examples, and I think it's important. So, what happens to a house? Like, why is it so important? Because I don't want people to think we're telling you guys to get married, but what we're saying is that, if you're not getting married, make sure that you've thought of everything and you have contracts. So, what does it make the house, like, I understand that if you're married, it's 50/50 when somebody does a separation. What happens when you're in common law?

 

- Well, when you're in the more liberal union, your common law, then, like Suzanne mentioned, it is imperative, it's very important for partners to draw a domestic contract, what we refer as sometimes a cohabitation agreement. But a domestic contract needs to be valid in the residence that you are in. So, again, the best way is to seek for legal advice, to seek out with your advisers. Maybe there is a way in your province to make sure that that contract is valid. So, if you're worried about what would happen, for example, you mentioned your house, and you're not maybe 50/50, and you might have made a down payment which is maybe lower or greater than your partner, then this is something that needs to be addressed maybe not only when you buy the house but maybe can be reinforced in the cohabitation agreement. Also, you can put a lot of things in there, and correct me if I'm wrong, but you can share the responsibilities once it's drafted inside. There is no template, let's say. Like, it can be drawn up, like, whatever that you want inside just to make sure that you are protected, in terms of each spouse, of whatever union that you have with your partner. That's for sure.

 

- But reality check in Québec.

 

- Yeah.

 

- Suppose one of the partner, suppose you're a co-owner of a house. One of them put 80% of the...

 

- Down payment.

 

- ...down payment, the other one, 20%. You go happily to the notary, and you just say, well, you're co-owners of the house. That's it, co-owners. Well, if you expect to recuperate that money that you put, that difference between yourself and your spouse, well, you must put it in writing. Because in Québec, there is a presumption of equality. So if it's presumed equal and it's not and you did not write that you wish to get the difference, well, you won't get it. That's it.

 

- Earlier, Suzanne, you mentioned the fact that the main difference between being married and common law is the fact that you cannot claim for spousal support once the separation. So, does that mean that, whether it's in Québec or across Canada, we have to have that written down, also, the possibility of…

 

- David will explain a little more, but I must say that, in the province of Ontario, as soon as - and other provinces - as soon as you fit the definition of "spouse," let's say it could be one year of living together plus one child, in other provinces, three years of living together, depending, okay? You are entitled to spousal support.

 

- Okay.

 

- But Québec is, don't say it too loud, because we've been saying it quite loud and it did not change, there is no spousal support in Québec for people living together, be it the number of years you would like to. No.

 

- But, again, there's no… you don't have to be taken for granted everything for what we say for Québec applies to every province, because some of the provinces, like she mentioned, so Ontario and others - I'm thinking about B.C. - well, you have to see if you're entitled to spousal support even if you're not married. So, that doesn't mean that you should not do anything. You should, in fact, draw that cohabitation agreement, that domestic contract. That doesn't mean that you have to, let's say, rely upon the government and to the legislation just to make sure that you're protected, no. Seek out for advice, seek out legal advice, and make sure that you are protected.

 

- The law gives you basic rights. You can give more. That's permitted in a cohabitation agreement. And Hélène was referring to a little earlier, like, women who are not married, let's say, will take maternity leave, will stop for sometimes longer than that. Well, if you start negotiating before you have these children, you can certainly say, "Well, can we work out a mechanism by which I will get compensated for all of these hours, years that I've lost? And let's discuss this, because you will not lose the same, you know, amount of money that I will be losing."

 

- It's harder to do it afterwards, but it's still possible.

 

- It's always possible, but you… how could I put this? You sort of lose an edge.

 

- Yeah. [Laughter] Okay. Are there any other laws that govern the division of property, family property, that we should know about?

 

- Well, in Québec, it's the civil code, mostly, because it's family patrimony. When you're married, it's family patrimony. The net value of the family patrimony, of all the properties I said before, well, you evaluate… you get to know the value of all of that property, and then it's split equally. You are entitled to certain deductions, like gifts, inter vivos gifts, inheritances that you may deduct, and all the debts that have been used for the acquisition, maintenance, improvement, or preservation of the property that is included in the family patrimony. Suppose you have a mortgage on the house to start a business. It doesn't exist when you partition your property. The one who put that money, that is responsible for this money, will be kept with the debt, that's for sure.

 

- Okay. And can we talk a bit more about the debts?

 

- Yes.

 

- Like, you know, what do we deduct to make sure that we get to that net family, that net value of family property?

 

- Well, only the debts that were incurred for the acquisition, improvement, maintenance, and preservation of the property that are composing the family patrimony.

 

- But I'm sure we can get surprises from debts.

 

- Oh, yes, yes.

 

- So, what are some of the surprises?

 

- Well, you know, people don't seem to realize that, suppose they say, "Oh, you know, our friends, they have this line of credit. It is so useful." I call it the Tutti Frutti Line of Credit, you know? [Laughter] Really, people will, "Oh, let's have a trip. Let's do this, let's do that." I'm not talking about renovations on the house, maintenance of the house. I'm talking about all sorts of other things, which is make ends meet with money on the line of credit. Well, then, you will have a definite problem, because whatever you want to be deducted from the family patrimony, or not deducted… sometimes you do not want that deduction, okay? Suppose it's to buy another company or whatever, property that's not included in the family patrimony. If you cannot prove what money went where, you need… The money root is so important. You need to know how much you were worth at the beginning of that union or that marriage and what you have acquired from Day One to the end of that marriage.

 

- I don't know a lot of people that do that, honestly.

 

- Well, people who have good counsel do.

 

- Wow.

 

- Usually, when you do have, when you have a marriage contract or a domestic agreement, you will have a list of assets with, as an annex...

 

- Right.

 

- ...and it's going to list everything both partners own. Okay, all that, including the value, of course.

 

- That's an important factor, the value, right?

 

- Yeah.

 

- David, did you want to add anything to this? You're just going, "Oh, gosh." [Laughter]

 

- Well, I was just going to say, like you mentioned, because some people do seek for counsel and they keep track, but some people often learn from their mistake from a previous marriage, also. So if it's a second marriage, they know much before… Or maybe they haven't learned it yet, but hopefully, they will, but they know the importance of tracking down everything up, so...

 

- One thing they should know is, you know, suppose you did partition all of your assets with a first wife, then a second one. You could get to the third time and get some very good advice. [Laughter] "Now what do I do now?" Now that list is quite important. "How should that money be treated after my marriage?"

 

- Oh, my gosh. There's so many questions.

 

- And one question, you know what a really en vogue tendency right now is, "Oh, let's live together for a few years," and then you do acquire patrimony - okay? And wealth, and usually, these are the years where you have the children. So, one of them goes like this, way up with the wealth, the other one usually stays a bit stable or even less than before. So, before… Suppose you want to get married after, because a lot of people do that. If they do, well, you have to close your first deal - let me call it business. So, the first deal has to be settled before you enter the second one. Ask for compensation for the first part and settle things, equalize things, and get to the second part.

 

- And we don't tend to do that. People jump from one relationship to another, and I don't think that they've done so many paper trails and paper routes, as you call them, as they went along. We talked a lot about how to protect our wealth in case our partner dies or in case of a separation. What happens with our own death?

 

- Well, first of all, you pass away, you're not there anymore.

 

- Yeah, but let's say we don't have a will.

 

- Yeah. So that's the problem that you're putting… You don't want that problem to your loved ones when you pass away without a will, because already they mourn your death. You don't want that upon them, also. So, let's go directly to the conclusion. Everyone knows, or have heard in the past, draw a will. But I think it's more the procrastination of drafting a will, because the consequence for not drafting a will and you pass away, it's far much greater than just going to draft a will. So, if you don't have a will, there's the law of intestacy that will apply. And the law of intestacy, again, varies from one province to another. So, what happens? Intestacy, by definition, it means "passing away without a will." So, there's some government application that will help to divide your family property between your close one. So, again, do you want for your close one to get that money? Sometimes you might say, "Yeah, of course. I just have a wife. I don't have kids." Whoa, whoa, whoa. You got to be careful for that, because, yes, your wife could be - or your spouse or your married spouse, right?

 

- Yes.

 

- You see where I'm going with that.

 

- Yes.

 

- Your married spouse might be entitled to what we call a preferential share, but then after, if you have kids, they will get some of the residual asset. If you don't have kids and you have parents, you got siblings, you got nephew, niece... So, it all varies from one province to another, but it's usually a next of kin, what we call. So you have to go look over what happens if you pass away without a will and see if that applies to you. And most importantly, you might have kids and say, "Oh, well, if I pass away, everything will go to my kids," or, "will go everything to my spouse." But then, your kids are underage. So there's another problem that will be, that needs to be settled by then. But since they're not at the age of maturity, well, some guardian, or in Québec, we've got the public curator. [Laughter]

 

- Public curator.

 

- Public curator, thank you. But in the other province, other government division that will look over that. So, draft a will and make sure that it respect your wishes and not the government wishes.

 

- Because, Suzanne, did you see stories?

 

- I saw something very horrible in a Québec matter where, you know, people go to mediation when they're married. This couple had a very good relationship, but the marriage was over, so they went to mediation sessions, and they settled everything happily. With the kids, they had three kids, and settled everything, separated the property. Everything was done fine. But, you know, they got along very well, so they didn't get a divorce judgment. The husband started living with another partner for three years, and then, at 42, accident. He had a very serious accident, he died, and had no will. So, in Québec, since common-law partners do not exist, and he was co-owner of the house with his new girlfriend, well, the first wife inherited and the children inherited everything, and that was it.

 

- They became co-owner with…

 

- Well, sort of, yeah. We settled that.

 

- Legally.  

 

- You know, you can, when people are reasonable, you can sit down and, you know, organize it. But there was no will. It was a terrible situation. So you should be aware of the consequences, not only of, you know, signing certain documents but not signing important documents and obtaining things like a very important document like your divorce judgment. The only way you can end a marriage is, you know, like, by death or a divorce judgment. We won't talk about marriage annulment, but...

 

- No, no, that's a different conference.

 

- Yes.

 

- But since the beginning, whether it was Angela, Hélène, David, or Suzanne, everybody tells us the same thing: the importance of writing things down, of having documents, of documenting everything. That's one point I think that we all need to remember and that it is really important at the end of it all. So, since we're talking about a will, how should we prepare a will? Like, what should we include in it that's important?

 

- Yeah. So, what's to be included depends on your own wishes, what you desire to leave to your loved ones, but the most important thing is naming one of the… having a will is having one thing, but keeping that will somewhere. So, here, you might have, in some province, some registry, in some other province, you need to know where it is. So, is under your mattress? Is it in your vault? Is it somewhere that… It needs to be easily accessible, or someone needs to be aware where it is. So, hopefully… Here in Québec, we've got, if it's notarized, if it's under a registry… Some of the provinces are kept within the legal adviser's office. But people, your loved one, needs to know where it is. So that's the first thing. The second thing, also, is, beside all your wishes and your desire, you've got to see who would you appoint as an executor of your will. Because being an executor is not an easy task. It's very demanding, in terms of not only, like, physical and knowledge, but minding, also, it's very demanding. So you've got to make sure that you want to appoint someone that has the capacity to do it. Of course you want to name your best friend or your siblings because they know your stuff, but maybe for them, they don't want to be settling your estate because maybe they're too close to you, they might be not impartial as you want. So make sure that you appoint a right executor. And if you don't have anybody close to you that want to be an executor, you can always appoint what we call a corporate executor. Here, at National Bank, we got the trust of National Bank that can be a corporate executor, but you can appoint any… There's legal office that acts for a corporate executor. You've got accounting, also, but you got to make sure that they will fulfill your wishes and settle this, everything, just to make sure that we settle your estate. So that is what you need to consider in your will, also.

 

- Okay. And I presume that you should let the executor know in advance that you're putting...

 

- Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

- ...he or she's name on the… Are there any blind spots that we should be aware of when, as women, we write our will?

 

- Well, the blind spots, I mean, if you seek out for legal advice, of course you're going to have everything, the whole package, right? So, we have that will that we draft, but you also have that other part of the estate planning, what we call the power of attorney. So, the power of attorney is actually a complement to the will, because the will is in the event that you pass away. The power of attorney, or what we call here in Québec, the protection mandate, is in the event of incapacity. So, in that event, who will take care of your affairs? Either it could be your personal health or your personal assets, your family property. For that, who do you want to be the legal representative of managing your own assets? Because if you don't appoint one, unfortunately, the government have already some laws that will govern this and say, "We will appoint someone for you."

 

- And it's not necessarily your partner.

 

- And not necessarily your partner.

 

- If you're not married.

 

- Exactly. Not married, not your partner, not your spouse. It could be anyone. We don't know. But even aside for not having the right person to deal with your own affairs, the delays might take a lot of time before someone that will take up your family property, and in that time, if you have a family business, it could go downhill if you have nobody that will take care of your own stuff.

 

- What I find interesting, well, what I found interesting when we prepared this conference is now I understand that many people discuss what their intentions are, in terms of will and mandate and power of attorney in advance so there is no surprise when, well, death happens, you know?

 

- Yeah.

 

- So everybody can be prepared and ask the necessary questions. And at that point, well, there's no interpretation, you know, of what you want. You've explained it. Everybody knows it. Mind you, your will should be very, very clear. That's the first thing. It has to be very clear what your intentions are, and then you can certainly announce to the people who will be part of that will, will benefit from that will, what you want and why. This could be, you know, sometimes, one of the children is involved in the business, the other one has a career, a different career. So you might have made choices which you can explain while you're alive.

 

- Instead of them hating you once you've passed on.

 

- That's good.

 

- And I would say, because there's something really romantic about saying, "Okay. I'm going to write my will tonight in my bed, and it's going to be written down, and..." But I went to see a notary when I did mine, and, honestly, like, there's so many questions my husband and I hadn't talked or thought about that it really brought us to, I think, a next level of where our will should be. So I think that that's the best way to go about things, right? Because it has to be very clear.

 

- It has to be very clear. There has to be no room for interpretation, that's for sure. And there's a tendency now to have an open discussion with the family, because, of course - and I'm telling you a personal aspect here - my mom, she's still alive, by the way, but she always tells me, "You'll know everything when I pass away." But the thing is, "I don't want to know when you pass away, because if I have a question, you're not there to answer it."

 

- Yeah.

 

- "So better to tell now while you're alive and then ask questions and just to be clear maybe to have some sort of closure," and maybe it's not in your best interest, in terms of her wishes, because, of course, she means well...

 

- Yeah, of course.

 

- ...in all the case, but it might not go with your planning. And then, if you have a family business, some of the kids might want to take over, some not because they are not interested. So all this part of the open discussion, and there's a good tendency about the transparency and the fairness and equality, also.

 

- I can feel that some people are having palpitations right now listening to us. [Laughter]

 

- Okay. If we have one advice, like, where should they start? Who should they go see right now?

 

- Well, in terms of estate planning, we all have been mentioning before, from the beginning, having all the documents written. Go see advisers, and see, first of all, are you a common-law partner, or are you married? Then, after all that, we'll basically say, "You will draft your will, you will draft your cohabitation contract, power of attorney, also." Power of attorney can go very large. We have the power of attorney for using what we call finance, power of attorney for property, but you also have the healthcare directive.

 

- It's very important.

 

- That's also part of it, just in case if you're… Because some of the power of attorney, you have that in place but can always recover from your incapacity, so you want to make sure that your health has actually been taken care of. If you don't want to be wished to maintain alive, that could be also addressed in the healthcare directive and all of that.

 

- Guys, we don't have much time, and I want to get to the question, but first, I want to remind people that they can replay this conference as of tomorrow on the link that you have now. And for any questions that you may have regarding the topics of today and others, you can go on nbc.ca/women, with an “e”. And if you haven't seen, ‘cause we've mentioned a few times about the last conference, which was on retirement, you can also view it at the same place. You can replay this one. Okay. So, now let's get to your questions.

 

[Music]

 

- Okay. We'll go with a question that is for Suzanne. What about assets that would have been part of the family patrimony but have been purchased by or transferred to a holding company or a trust?

 

- That's very interesting, because this is so fashionable now.

 

- Yes.

 

- People… Oh, I saw all sorts of things being said to the other spouse for buying or transferring property that should be part of the family patrimony into a holding company or a trust. Now, in a holding company, you know, when you read the definition - it's all about definitions. When you read the definition of what composes a family patrimony, it's written family residences and the rights which confer use of them. Okay?

 

- Okay.

 

- So... Suppose it is your family residence or your chalet, your secondary residence.

 

- Cottage.

 

- A cottage, yeah. Where you've been using it for 20 years, but it's in a company. You have the right to use that property as defined in the law, and it is part, the value is part of the family patrimony.

 

- Okay.

 

- A holding company. Not the trust. It's just been decided by the Supreme Court of Canada. According, well, in other provinces, it could be different, but in Québec, it was established in 2020 that the rights which confer use of them, well, if a trust is a trust for which one of the spouses has, you know, like, control over that trust, well, it also is included in the family patrimony. And they decided, in that case - and, mind you, in that case, it was very, very particular, I would say, because both spouses had decided to buy the family house through a trust, saying, "Well, our kids will benefit and everything." But the wife divorced the husband before she passed away. She passed away, of course, unfortunately, of cancer, and there was a big fight about, "No, you're not entitled to do this in Québec because you're not entitled to put the house in the family trust." And although all the written documents, everything was legal, okay? And the Supreme Court said, "No, it is not excluded from family patrimony. It is included." The whole value, $2 million, I believe, something like this, was included in the family patrimony because the other spouse had the control over the trust, and it met the definition.

 

- Wow. All right. Let's go with another question. David: "If we have a protection mandate, is it easy for children to apply it? Is there a possibility for abuse?"

 

- Now, my question is, from which province does that question come from?

 

- Okay. Well, maybe you can give a broad…

 

- I can answer, basically, more...

 

- Generally.

 

- ...more general, because I'll tell you two answers.

 

- Okay.

 

- The first one, in Québec, even though that you have a protection mandate, you need to get it validated by the Superior Court. That is regardless if it's notarized or it's handwritten down, you need to get it validated. The other thing that, if you reside into another province, some of the provinces doesn't need quite, let's say, "validation," and it's enforceable if you get incapacitated. So it is straightly right out now that it gets valid, and some of the provinces needs to get a certification of two medical professionals that attests, that validates that you're incapacitated.

 

- Okay.

 

- And, also, it depends on how the mandate, the power of attorney is actually drafted. What is the definition inside? So, is it some sort of total incapacitated, is it a partial incapacitated? So it does have an impact over the easy access to enforce that power of attorney. So, the other question was… Can they abuse?

 

- Can they abuse? The answer is, it depends on how it is drafted. Because if you actually put some attorney, well, two attorneys instead of one, there is less chance to get abused by the power of attorney. So, again, it's better to have two attorneys than one to make sure that there's no conflict of interest, there's no abuse. Maybe children that can act co-attorney for that. So, if it's very well done, I'm not saying it's impossible, but we put less probability of having an abuse situation.

 

- Okay. And I learned, also, today while preparing for this that we should rewrite our will or check it every three to five years. I guess it's the same thing, also, for power of attorney and doubling and tripling your checks every time. Okay. Suzanne… I'm learning, Angela! Suzanne: "I had a will made up in 1994, but my lawyer has since retired. Is there a copy of my will filed somewhere in the registry, or do I have the only copy?"

 

- In a registry in Nova Scotia?

 

- Oh, in Nova Scotia.

 

- Oh, boy. I never practiced in Nova Scotia.

 

- Oh, you're gonna start now.

 

- But what I can tell you, like in Québec, when a notary or a lawyer drafting wills retires, they have to cede their...

 

- Practice.

 

- ...practice to a certain… Here it's la Chambre des Notaires, the Notary Chamber...

 

- Yeah, that's true.

 

- ...or another lawyer or a notary, and there is a registry of that somewhere that is public. You should be made aware of this by the government, the province, that's for sure. The bar, too. The bar should know. The bar will know.

 

- Okay. Yeah, that's a super important factor. So, David, other than a divorce, when should your wills be updated? I just, like, slightly mentioned it.

 

- Yeah, just as a rough rule of thumb, three or five years, but I would say every time there's a change in your own situation, either a personal or affair, or business - sorry, not an affair, but personal or business - it could mean something else…. [Laughter] Affair is mean.

 

- Yeah. [Laughter]

 

- Personal or business, you should not update your will, but you should look if it's still valid into your current situation. And most often, now that we have second unions, second partners, we've got blended families, you should see, and most often, then, the wills and other legal documents needs to be updated. So, every time there's a change in your own personal situation, you should review your will and see if it needs to be updated.

 

- Okay. But I may not have the energy or the time to go see a notary every three years. Can I just write the changes and sort of, you know, stick them with the will I have, or is that not a good idea?

 

- Well, what you're referring is mostly a codicil, like, you write something down next to it and have it, like, an appendix. It's usually more… It's suggested that you seek for professional advice, see a provisional legal adviser, because there's some of the things that you might have not thought of that needs to be adjusted in your current will. So let's say that you have a second, a third union. Let's say a third union, and you said, "The second one was, everything goes to my children, and the third one, still everything goes to my children. I don't think that something needs to be updated in my will." But, in fact, that, maybe back then, your kids were well underage. Now they're maybe over 18, so that's some sort of things that might change, also. So, again, you should not… just writing a piece of paper down temporarily, that's fine, until you get reviewed by a legal professional.

 

- It also has to be homologated if it's in writing.

 

- Yeah, that, too.

 

- So, in Québec, it has to be homologated, whereas, when you have a notary, you don't have to do that. It's seen as your will, you know?

 

- Mm-hmm. So I haven't cut corners.

 

- A protection, yeah.

 

- All right. Angela: "What should you look for in an adviser? Is there a conflict of interest if exes have the same adviser?" I like that question, also.

 

- Yeah, listen, what should you look for in an adviser is that you feel comfortable with them. You know, when an event like divorce happens, you know, what you want is for them to have met you before. Certainly, you want to be the one that they're interested in keeping on as a client. And this is alluding to what Hélène talks about, where 80% of women change advisers within the first year, you know, after a divorce or the death of a spouse. So, my advice is, you know, there are multiple things. It's really a question of trust. How close are you to the adviser at the time of the event? Have you met them before? It's really a personal question. But, you know, I think there's a way sometimes to work around it. If you've been dealing with the family adviser for 20, 25 years, 15 years, you know, sometimes what they'll do is, during the event, they probably might have one of you, you know, work with a trusted colleague of theirs in the same office until things get settled if you want to stay with them and if that makes you feel better. So there are different options. My advice is, discuss it with them, and certainly trust what you're feeling.

 

- Thank you, Angela. I think I still have time for another question. I will go with this one. "What happens…" Okay, Suzanne, that one's for you: "What happens when you're married in Québec but have always lived in Ontario? What rules apply to you?" Oh, gosh, yeah.

 

- That's funny. That's an exam question. [Laughter] Last question to me. So, normally, when you're married… Suppose you're married, well, not "suppose you're married." You get married in Québec, okay? Now, normally, you're governed by… your matrimonial regime is governed by the laws of Québec. Depending, though. If you get married in Québec, like, suppose you like Mont-Tremblant and come and get married there. But you have the intention, all this time, you had the intention to live in Ontario. Well, normally, the laws of Ontario will apply. Also, if you move from Québec to Ontario and the Family Act - the Ontario Family Act, sorry - provides that, by law, after living together for this long and this and that, you have these public orders as, how could I… rules that apply. Well, they will be automatically applied to you. Like, if people from Ontario come to live in Québec, and they live here for a few years, well, family patrimony will apply to them, too. You know?

 

- Ah, okay.

 

- But if you were married in Québec, and you never lived here, only just got married and moved to Ontario, probably the laws of Ontario will apply. Probably.

 

- And if they come to Québec to divorce? I'm kidding. That's not a question.

 

- You can't. You have to wait a year.

 

- "Okay. Okay, last questions. Last question, sorry. [Laughter] "Are the laws or the patrimony different from same-sex couples?"

 

- Well, if you marry a man, if you marry a woman, if you… whatever. If you're married, family patrimony is the same. It's the same.

 

- In every province? Is that the same for every province?

 

- In Québec, it's always the same.

 

- David, are you able to answer if it's the same for the rest of Canada?

 

- I'm not quite sure about the other provinces, but my guess would be, you're married, you're married. But we have to… I can't answer for sure for that.

 

- I think it's the same, because the Marriage Act is federal.

 

- That's perfect. That's perfect. Wanted to clear things up. All right, you guys were so great. Honestly, like, there's so much amazing information. And I would like to end this with some final tips.

 

[Music]

- Okay. Angela, what are the takeaways from today's conversation?

 

- Wow, Isabelle. I've been in the business 25 years, and I'm still learning. I learned from my colleagues today. So, I think the final takeaways for me, I hope, and for you, 'cause that's what's important, is you need to have these discussions when things are going well, and, hopefully, before you have kids, because as Suzanne said, it acts… you know, you don't have the leverage once you have the kids. So, I think the important thing is also to manage your expectations. You're not going to come to a resolution after one discussion. So if you're thinking you're going to have that discussion tonight and you're going to know exactly what to do tomorrow morning, it's not going to happen that way. These things are really emotional. They take time. And, you know, if you're wondering how to have that discussion, what my advice is, sometimes a trusted adviser, a planner, someone that you trust, can actually help you have those discussions in a three-part meeting. So my advice would be, reach out to them. This is what they do for a living. They've seen this. They know what it involves. And they're in the jurisdiction that you live in most of the time, and they'll be able to advise you based on your actual provincial laws.

 

The other thing is, you know, during that discussion, you might want to have that "what if" scenario. What if you weren't there anymore? What if, tomorrow morning, I disappeared? So let's have those discussions, and, you know, let's see where they take you. But the truth is, if you're not having them, you can't take action, and if you don't take action, you're not protecting your wealth. And I think we've all worked so hard to accumulate wealth, the last thing we want to do is leave it up to the government because we haven't planned properly to make decisions on what our desires are, which is why it's important to draw up a will. And so, on my final note, I think what I would say is, let's not leave this up to luck or love but rather, let's have the discussion and come to a common agreement.

 

- Oh, yes, you're so right. Thank you so much, Angela. Thank you, Hélène. Thank you, David and Suzanne. And thank you for joining us today, because just by being there, I mean, you took your own destiny, and you're owning your power, and that is super important. So, if you want to have more information, go on nbc.ca/women, and if you want to replay this conference, tomorrow, you may be able to do so with the same link that you used today for this live conference. Bye, everyone!

 

[Music]

 

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