Get professional help with your will

A 2018 survey of the singles scene in the U.S. shows how weird dating standards have gotten.

In a world of hyper-tailored, swipe-right connectivity, the average cost of a date in New York is over $297 US, including a meal, drinks and entertainment. (That's over $392 in Canuck-bucks).

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That's ridiculous.

Cheap date nostalgia

In the early 1980s the Kinks lead singer, Ray Davies wrote Come Dancing, about his beloved older sister Rene.

In the catchy tune, a line about his sister's dance partners stands out: "He'd end up blowing all his money for a week, for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek."

Around the time the Kinks were basking in their Come Dancing royalties, in 1986 I invited a cute brunette on our first date in Surrey.

With less than $4 to pull it off, I walked her on to the brand new Skyrain (which was temporarily free) and we rode it from one end to another, stopping midway at McDonalds to share a small side of fries.

By the end of the night I still had about $1.77 left when, taking one of the biggest risks of my life, I leaned in for a cuddle and a peck on the... lips.

She hasn't left me yet.

Better take her dancing.

The aforementioned Kinks hit makes no mention of the tragedy buried in its author's memory.

In 1957, Davies' older sister Rene was back home in the U.K., visiting her family from Canada, where she had been away living with her reportedly abusive husband.

While at home, she splurged and bought her little brother a guitar for his thirteenth birthday. His parents said it was too expensive.

He sat home that night admiring his precious new instrument, while his sister went to the local music hall she'd frequented as a teen.

While dancing reminiscently there, she suddenly died of a heart attack right on the ballroom floor.

Wills matter

Grieving the death of a loved one is a painful and emotional process. When the death is tragic and unexpected, that process becomes even more complicated.

Get a professional executor

"Unless someone has acted as an executor, or watched someone close to them go through the process, we generally find that Canadians do not put a lot of real thought in to whom they are appointing," said Leanne Kaufman, head of RBC Royal Trust. "Often they choose individuals who are their own age, meaning that they age together, and the chosen executor may not be in a position to act when needed."

Most major financial institutions have a trust division which can provide specialized professional services during what might be the most stressful and emotional upheaval of our lives. Taking a few minutes to grant a professional appointment in your will won't actually cost you anything in your lifetime, but will give your beneficiaries and/or executor(s) peace of mind. You're telling them it's okay to offload the cost and stress to a pro. Otherwise, they'll have to simultaneously absorb the burden of losing you and figuring out that you buried that tax return in the basement under that stack of 8-track tapes, next to your old baseball shoes, and those old sweat pants you refuse to throw away.

The intricacies of an estate

Settling an estate can include more than 70 individual tasks, including funeral arrangements, managing investments, inventorying assets, keeping detailed accounts, settling debts, selling real estate, and preparing and filing multiple tax returns.

The process generally takes many months - sometimes years - even for what may appear to be a simple estate. All of this during a very difficult emotional time.

While it can be frightening to contemplate one's death, it's important toensure your willand overall estate plan remains up-to-date.

"We encourage our clients to review their wills every few years and whenever they experience a significant change in their personal circumstances to ensure their estate plan continues to reflect their wishes," says Elaine Blades, senior manager, RBC Wealth Management Royal Trust.

It's uncomfortable talking about death, but it's actually much more cruel not to. The people left behind pay for your discomfort. Talk it over with the kids and others who need to know.

Plan ahead for a smooth transfer of wealth

According to a2017 survey commissioned by RBC Wealth Management, 66 per cent of those who began their financial learning before age 18 reported being more confident on the topic, versus 41 per cent of people who started after age 55.

General family conversations and meetings with professionals are two places to start.

If you involve children in your estate planning, not only can you manage expectations, but you can encourage financial stewardship, setting an example for future generations.

The tricky parts are your need for privacy, and worries of spoiling those overgrown rug rats of yours. But get them involved in the process at least enough to make the transition smooth. Chances are you won't be spoiling them.

You don't have to detail the numbers, just the process.

And most people receive their inheritance after they breach age 60 themselves, well beyond most of their major life decisions.

Mark Ryan is an investment advisor with RBC Dominion Securities Inc. (Member - Canadian Investor Protection Fund), and these are his views, and not those of RBC Dominion Securities. This article is for information purposes only. Please consult with a professional advisor before taking any action based on information in this article. See Ryan's website at:

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