A series of South Surrey seminars to help women plan for life’s transitions was inspired by a worst-case scenario experienced by a client of Laura Thibeault of HomeLife Benchmark Realty.
The woman, a Victoria resident, was planning to move to White Rock following the death of her husband about four years ago.
Since the husband did not believe in life insurance or credit cards, the wife’s life became far more difficult than it needed to be after his passing.
The man’s death left his spouse with limited financial options and no credit rating.
“He (the husband) would say, let’s pay cash,” Thibeault recalls.
“She couldn’t even put her goods in storage, because you need a credit card to do that.”
And when the widow finally managed to arrange the sale of her Victoria house to finance the purchase of a White Rock residence, the deal to buy a new place fell apart because someone else had failed to prepare for life’s setbacks.
Two days before the sale was scheduled to close, the seller suffered a bad fall that rendered them comatose.
It turned out the seller didn’t think he needed to make arrangements for someone else to handle his affairs if he became incapacitated. There was no power of attorney, meaning the sale couldn’t be completed.
The lady from Victoria hung in for a while, living out of a motel while she waited for the seller to recover enough to complete the transaction. He never did, and the woman eventually ended up having to buy a different property.
Thibeault calls it the “Woe, Nellie” case (not the woman’s name).
“Everything that could go wrong for her, did.”
While the case of the former Victoria resident is an extreme one, Thibeault says it is not all that unusual for women to fail to prepare for life’s transitions by taking steps to build a credit rating, arranging to give someone power of attorney and other precautions.
“It seems to be indefinitely postponable for most people,” Thibealt says.
“I see a lot of those sorts of things happening.”
Which is why Thibeault and some other local businesswomen came to organize the “SWANS” seminars on issues common to women of the “Boomer” generation as a fundraiser for the South Surrey White Rock Hospice Society.
SWANS speaker Janet Jacobsen-Doucette, of Comfort Keepers, says the title represents five simple strategies that will help women be better prepared in their later years:
1. S is for “Smart-sizing your home and possessions.”
2. W is for having “Wills and planning in place.”
3. A is for “Articulating your wishes and choices to your family and close circle.”
4. N is for “Neutralizing your debt and credit-card load.”
5. S is for “Stabilizing your family with appropriate insurances.”
For a $20 donation, attendees at the seminars were able to get advice from a battery of experts, including Jacobsen-Doucette, Thibeault, Sandy VandeKinder of Toastmasters, notary public Amar Kler, Shari Merrit of The Mortgage Group and Ainslie Winter of A.O. Winter Financial Group.
Thibeault says participants were told they need to make their own decisions before a crisis-like sudden illness or injury, or the death of a loved one, because if they don’t, the government will make the decision for them.
“Think about it,” she urges. “Get it written down, so you don’t have to think about it. It’s done.”
It’s an issue that should concern adults of all ages, she adds, because younger women can suffer sudden catastrophic illness, injury or death, too.
“It’s not just older people,” Thibeault says.
The first SWANS seminar on March 3 filled up a meeting room at the Semiahmoo Library and raised $350 for the hospice.
For the second seminar on May 9, organizers got a bigger room at the Crescent Gardens retirement community which raised $850. The next seminar is tentatively set for September.
“We’ll keep doing this until we stop seeing the horror stories.” Thibeault says.
For information about future seminars, call Janet Jacobsen-Doucette at 604-541-8654.