Life insurance can help your loved ones deal with the financial impact of your death.
The death benefit paid from a life insurance policy is a tax-free, lump-sum amount that can be used to:
- replace your income so your family can maintain their standard of living
- provide for your children or dependents
- pay for funeral expenses
- pay off your debts
- make a gift to charity
You may also choose to leave the money to your estate or to a trust.
Term life insurance
Term life insurance pays a death benefit if the person insured dies within a specific period of time or before you reach a certain age.
The length of your coverage can be either for:
- a fixed period of time, such as a term of 10 or 20 years
- until you reach a set age, such as 65 years old
If you die within the duration of the policy, your beneficiaries will be paid the death benefit. Once the term ends, the coverage ends and your beneficiaries don’t receive any payment.
Term insurance policies don’t include cash value. This means you can’t borrow against your policy and you won’t get any cash value back if you cancel your policy. Some term policies can be renewed.
Generally, your insurance company will establish your premiums, or the fees you pay, for the length of the term. Your premiums may increase when you renew the policy. For example, premiums would increase every five years on a five-year renewable policy.
If you don’t pay your premiums, your insurance company may cancel your policy.
Term life insurance premiums are generally less expensive than permanent life insurance premiums when you first buy the policy.
Term life insurance options for couples
When considering buying life insurance as a couple, look at what coverage you may already have through your employer or that you may have bought when you were on your own.
If you decide to purchase insurance, make sure you consider all the options available to you as a couple. Make sure to consider the pros and cons of each.
Joint first-to-die term insurance
- Insures two people under one joint policy
- Pays the death benefit when the first partner dies
- Gives each partner the same coverage
- Is usually less expensive than two identical single policies
- Is sometimes less flexible than single policies if the couple separates or gets divorced
- Usually can’t be divided
- Usually pays only one death benefit, so if one partner dies, the other needs to apply for a new policy to continue coverage
Single term insurance
- Provides each partner with their own policy
- Gives each partner their own coverage amount
- Is usually more expensive in total than a joint first-to-die policy
- Makes it relatively easy to change the beneficiary, if you separate or divorce
Permanent life insurance
Permanent life insurance gives you coverage throughout your lifetime. Your survivors will get payment if you die at any time while your insurance policy is in effect.
Permanent life insurance policies build up a cash value. This means you’d get a cash value back (less than the amount you paid in premiums for the insurance costs) if you cancel your policy.
You may be able to take out a policy loan or use your life insurance policy as collateral for a loan. If you borrow using your cash value and don’t repay the loan, it may reduce the amount of money your beneficiary will receive or that you may get back if you cancel.
Whole life insurance
Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that provides you coverage for your life time.
Your premiums won’t change as you get older. Your policy will often have a guaranteed minimum cash value.
Universal life insurance
Universal life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that combines life insurance with an investment account. The investment account has a cash value. Withdrawals, as well as loans, may be permitted.
The death benefit and cash value of your investment account may increase or decrease depending on the:
- types of investments you choose to hold in your account
- returns on those investments
You can also select how your premiums are invested. You can increase or decrease your premiums within the limits specified in your insurance policy. However, your premiums could increase if returns on your chosen investments fall.
Naming a beneficiary
A beneficiary is the person you name to receive payment from your insurance policy when you die. You can name your spouse, another family member, friend or charitable organization as beneficiary.
You can name more than one beneficiary for your life insurance policy. If you do this, your insurance company will divide the death benefit among them. You may assign different proportions of your life insurance benefits to each beneficiary.
If the beneficiary is revocable, you can change the beneficiary at any time without telling them.
If the beneficiary is irrevocable, you must have the irrevocable beneficiary’s written permission before making beneficiary changes.
If you live in Quebec and name your spouse as your beneficiary, the designation is automatically irrevocable. You must specifically make it revocable when you first designate your spouse in Quebec.
Naming a beneficiary who is under legal age
If the beneficiary you name is under the legal age when you die, you may want to set up a trust and designate a trustee or administrator. This person can hold the proceeds of the death benefit in trust on behalf of the minor.
If you don’t name a trustee or administrator, the death benefit, plus any interest it earns, will be held in trust by the province or territory. It will be paid out when your beneficiary reaches legal age. Consult with a lawyer or financial advisor for more details.
Naming your estate as the beneficiary
If you name your estate as the beneficiary. The estate will distribute the death benefits according to the terms of your will. The proceeds of the death benefit will become part of your estate and will be subject to estate taxes. If the death benefit is part of your estate, creditors may claim the death benefit to pay for your outstanding debts.
If you name your estate as your beneficiary:
- the death benefit will become part of your estate
- the death benefit will be distributed according to the terms of your will
- the money will be subject to taxes when your estate is settled
How to name a beneficiary
It’s important to name a beneficiary for each policy form when you purchase life insurance. If you don’t, your insurer will assume by default the beneficiary is your estate.
You may want to consider naming an alternate or contingent beneficiary. This is the person or persons who will receive the proceeds of the death benefit if your named beneficiary dies either before you or at the same time as you.
It’s a good idea to review your beneficiary designations from time to time and update them if necessary.
Source: Government of Canada
Calgary COVID outbreak of at least 49 active cases linked to recent wedding: officials – National Post
CALGARY — Alberta Health says 49 active COVID-19 cases have been linked to a wedding in Calgary earlier this month.
The health agency says the wedding had a large number of Albertans from different households.
Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan says aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed to make sure they are isolating and getting tested.
He did not say how many people attended the wedding and says specifics about individual cases cannot be disclosed because of patient confidentiality.
COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the province say a maximum of 100 people can attend outdoor and indoor seated events, such as wedding ceremonies, funeral services, movie theatres, indoor arts and culture performances.
McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings.
“This is a reminder to all Albertans that this virus is still here and any social gathering carries a risk of exposure,” he said in an email Tuesday.
“It is important that nobody attend if they are feeling ill with even mild symptoms, or if they are awaiting test results.”
He says it is also important that organizers do everything possible to comply with the public health guidance in place, including having enough space for physical distancing between cohorts, following gathering size restrictions and avoiding sharing food and utensils.
People with dementia among hardest hit by COVID-19 health restrictions – CBC.ca
Before COVID-19, Lyne Gauthier did her best to keep her husband’s mind from slipping away by organizing activities they had enjoyed together before he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
She would visit the long term facility where Yves Dessureault, 66, has lived for three years and take him on simple outings.
“We’d go grocery shopping, go out for an ice cream cone,” said Gauthier. Sometimes they would just “listen to music and dance.”
But then the coronavirus hit, and there were no more outings.
There were also no more services like pet therapy or music therapy within the facility due to the pandemic.
Gauthier says she has watched her husband deteriorate dramatically in the past six months. He’s now considered to be in the late stages of Alzheimer’s.
“I think COVID has really fast-tracked the progression of his symptoms,” she said.
Gauthier feels the health rules that curtailed their outings and deprived Dessureault of face-to-face contact robbed him of precious time as a husband, father and grandfather.
At his care home, there is little mingling these days and many residents eat their meals in their rooms.
The social isolation has left him more fragile, both physically and emotionally, said Gauthier.
Since the spring, she says, Dessureault appears more upset and anxious. His balance has gotten worse and even the simplest words have lost their meaning.
“If I want to show him where we’d like to sit, I need to tap the seat and do more gestures,” said Gauthier.
“There is a lot he can’t do anymore.”
Worsening symptoms linked to lockdowns
During the pandemic, many residents in long-term care experienced rapid cognitive decline, increased depression and more behavioural symptoms such as wandering and agitation, said Dr. Isabelle Vedel, a public health physician and associate professor in McGill University’s Department of Family Medicine.
There is some preliminary research from the United States and the U.K. suggesting people with dementia were hit the hardest by the virus.
Not only were they at an increased risk of being infected and of dying from COVID-19, but there were thousands of so-called excess deaths — meaning many more people died than the average for the same period in previous years.
Vedel fears the same will be true in Canada.
“People living in long-term care were extremely affected by the pandemic,” said Vedel. “Eighty per cent of the deaths happened in long-term care in Canada, and we know that approximately 80 per cent of people in long-term care have dementia.”
With funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Vedel is leading a research project in collaboration with Alzheimer’s societies across Canada that will measure the deaths of people with dementia during the pandemic.
It will also examine what impact the disruption of services and access to health care may have had on their lives.
For instance, during the first wave of the pandemic, Quebec feared hospitals would be overrun, so long-term care facilities were asked not to send people to the ER, said Vedel.
“It’s very probable that even though they had acute illnesses, they were not sent to the emergency department, so they didn’t receive the appropriate care they needed.”
Lessons for the 2nd wave
Maintaining services as much as possible during subsequent waves of the virus is paramount, Vedel said.
People with dementia rely on home care, community services, family physicians and caregivers. If there are obstacles to getting these services, people with dementia will decline and fall between the cracks, she said.
“We have to make an extra effort for them and make sure that they can be well cared for during the pandemic,” said Vedel.
She expects the research group will have statistics and recommendations in the spring.
Disruptions, reimposed restrictions
With parts of Canada now firmly in a second wave of the pandemic, all the changing health precautions and disruption can be especially distressing for people with dementia.
In Quebec, for instance, more and more regions are in red zones, where visits are once again limited in long-term care homes and private seniors’ residences. The partial lockdown also means many programs are suspended.
The goal is to limit contacts and keep the virus from sweeping through those facilities as it did in the first wave.
The directive to wear masks or face coverings to slow the spread poses a problem for these patients because it’s harder to read facial expressions, which they rely on to communicate and interact.
Overmedication is another problem: As patients get more agitated, more medication is being prescribed, including anti-psychotic drugs to calm them down, said Nouha Ben Gaied, the director of research and development for the Federation of Quebec Alzheimer Societies.
These drugs, “are inappropriate to use for people with dementia and they can cause more harm than benefits” said Ben Gaied.
Ben Gaied hopes Quebec’s health ministry has learned lessons from the first wave.
A spokesperson for the ministry said it has introduced measures to better protect this population and reduce the number of excess deaths.
That includes better access to a family doctor and improving the transition between primary care and specialized services, said Marie-Louise Harvey.
The government has also recruited nearly 10,000 new patient attendants, about 7,000 of whom are already working in the system. The rest are still in training.
The province has asked long-term care homes to limit the movement of employees between long-term care homes as much as possible.
Infection control and prevention is also being closely watched.
Even so, since September, some of the new outbreaks in long-term care homes or private seniors’ residences in Quebec have been in units for people with a cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
‘He deserves better’
Gauthier’s greatest fear is her husband getting COVID.
She’s concerned about the high number of cases in Quebec, and what will happen to her husband if the partial lockdown is extended beyond the end of the month.
She’s doing everything she can to help her husband connect, though now that his care home is in a red zone, all she can offer are video chats with family, walks on the grounds or jaunts in the car to listen to music.
One of the activities that still makes Dessureault light up, she says, is a visit with his grandchildren — even if it is through a window or on FaceTime. Dessureault loves children, she says, and seeing them brings out his goofy, playful side.
“I find my husband for a few more seconds, a minute. It’s as if my husband is back,” said Gauthier, fighting to hold back tears. “The emotions are there. They connect. It’s just simple.”
She says she knows he’s still there, underneath the disease, but his quality of life has spiralled downward during the pandemic.
“He deserves better,” said Gauthier, who sometimes finds it hard to keep her spirits up.
“As a society, we can do better.”
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health – CityNews Edmonton
CALGARY – Alberta Health said 49 active COVID-19 cases have been linked to a wedding in Calgary earlier this month.
The health agency said the wedding had a large number of Albertans from different households.
Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan said aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed to make sure they are isolating and getting tested.
He did not say how many people attended the wedding and said specifics about individual cases cannot be disclosed because of patient confidentiality.
COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the province state a maximum of 100 people can attend outdoor and indoor seated events, such as
wedding ceremonies, funeral services, movie theatres, indoor arts and culture performances.
McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings.
WATCH: Recent rise in numbers due to large social events
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