The importance of having a Will

When my uncle past away a number of years ago, he had a Will, but what a Will doesn’t usually take into consideration is the stuff in the house, photo albums, furniture, kitchenware’s, tools, jewellery, knickknacks, etc. After my uncles’ death, the big items, furniture, televisions, etc were actually divided up quite easily. The problems arose when one half of the family (my side), who lived out-of-town were not given ample time to pick up the items and things were given away without our final agreement.

I had sent my husband to pick up the items left to us since I was ill at the time, plus he was able to disassemble my uncle’s bed and load it into our van (I would have been useless). When my husband arrived (after working an eight-hour shift, he found a huge mess, pictures taken out of photo albums and thrown on the floor, contents of cupboards just tossed here and there. He put as much as he could in our van, thinking he still had another day, but even before he arrived home, I found out that the rest of the contents of the house were being picked up the next day by strangers. I made a phone call to the person who was responsible for giving the contents away and was reassured the contents would still be there another day.

My husband, again went back the next day after work, only to find little in the house, it had been emptied. The not very expensive but personal items I had made for my uncle and grandmother (she had past away less than a year earlier) were gone. He had made a two-hour trip for nothing and I was in tears.

In a very short number of years, I have lost my great-aunt, two grandmothers, uncle, both my parents, and a very young sister-in-law. My husband has also lost in the same time period, his mother, and just recently his brother. So suffice to say, we have this “Will” thing pretty much down pat. Not long after we had our first child we wrote our first Will, and since then have updated it after each child, and then every three or four years. We have had lengthy discussions with our children about the division of property. For example, our life insurance will go towards paying for our cremation, a wake (neither of us are having a funeral, just a party), bills and if there is any money leftover it will be divided amongst the three of them. Likewise, if one of our kids wants our house, then the other two will have their portion purchased. As for the contents, all will be divided equally and fairly.

Our kids have seen the problems which have arisen when money/things are not shared equally, so I can confidently say, they will share because they want to avoid tears, as each of them as said, enough tears are shed when a person dies, causing more because of financial gain/material items is just not worth more tears.

Do you have a will? Have you talked to your kids about the division of money/items?

Groceries vs a puppy

Like many students out there, my daughter survives on OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program) to go to university. Learning to deal with finances is quite difficult for some students, they are away from home for the first time and all of a sudden they have numerous bills to pay. If living on campus in residence, finances are somewhat easier to deal with, especially if you check off the box that says OSAP will pay your tuition and residence fees directly to the college/university. This also holds true if you are living off campus, tuition will be paid automatically to the school, but you are then left with a large sum to budget for rent, food, hydro, heat, internet, etc., and it is never enough to live on. When my eldest first lived off campus, she basically starved because there was barely enough money for food after bills were paid. She budgeted extremely well, but was only left with roughly seven dollars a day for food. She did not have a lot of fresh produce in her fridge. 

Now when middle child rented her first apartment, things did not go as smoothly because as she is aware, she has a problem with spending and thus her money did not last the five months before the next instalment of OSAP. During the second term, mom was given control of her money and things went far smoother, though the last couple of months were difficult and mom had to dig deep in her own pockets to give middle child money for food. There were continually phone calls that she was starving and needed $50 for food. On one such occasion, she begged and begged, crying that she had no food until I finally broke and deposited money into her back account.

Well, a few weeks went by, and lo and behold, what did mom find out? Middle child had used the grocery money to buy a puppy off of Kijiji. Granted she saved ‘Bear’ from a horrible life but really a dog when you are a struggling student? After her father and I got over the initial anger because she rationalized the hell out of her decision to get a puppy, we accepted the fact that a dog would make her happier, since she suffered from depression and was very far from home, but alas, we had another mouth to feed.


It’s that time of year again – OSAP

It is that time of year again when middle & low income students complete the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) application, so they can hopefully have some sort of money to go to college/university in the fall. It is a good program, in that it does allow for students who otherwise would not be able to attend higher education because of their financial situation. Now, I would venture to say there are quite a few middle-income parents who cannot afford to send their kids to college/university because of the cost. My youngest will be attending university in the fall (yep, that makes three of my kids in higher education), so I thought I would do the cost estimator on the university’s web site. Naturally there are the tuition fees – $6622.40 (nice how they put the cents in there), books & supplies – $1215.00, personal expenses – $1000.00 (I have no idea what that covers), residence – $4820.00 (for those attending school away from their hometown, not him), a meal plan – $3135.00 (again for those living in residence, Dad will make the teenage boy’s lunch), transportation costs – $639.00 (he will have to take two buses), and entertainment – $1000.00 (well, he can watch television at home). I am not going to add them all up, because it is far too depressing.