Attention small business owners: are your affairs in
order in case death takes you by surprise?
About 150,000 people around the world die every day;
of these, about 730 are Canadians. Even though death
is still inevitable, life expectancy for Canadians has
risen significantly in the last hundred years and continues
to rise. A male born in Canada in 1911, for example,
could expect to live for 47.1 years and a female
for 50.1 years. A male born a century later in 2012
can expect to reach 79.8 years of age and a female to
reach 83.9. This dramatic extension of life expectancy
is largely attributable to a sharp reduction in infant
and child mortality rates through medical intervention
(e.g., vaccinations), improved sanitation and a better
quality of life through the elimination of child labour,
improved education, and better diet.
In the years between 1979 and 2009, the percentage of
deaths due to diseases of the heart declined sharply to
22% from 35% for men (to 20% from 34% for women)
while the number of deaths attributable to malignant
neoplasms (i.e., malignant tumours that spread to other
parts of the body) rose to 31% from 22% for men (to
29% from 24% for women).
If death comes unexpectedly, are your business and
personal affairs in order so your business associates
and family can move forward with the minimum of
problems? As a test of your preparedness, ask yourself
the following questions. Your answers will indicate
what you need to do to be ready in case the unthinkable
happens. Discuss the results with the appropriate
individual and document as required.
- As a starting point, consider what information
should be up to date.
- Who has signing authority on business and personal
- Who is your second to take over operations?
- Is key man insurance in place?
- Are financial statements current for valuation
- Have you established protocols and the format of
notification of your death to clients and suppliers?
- Is there a (prewritten) letter to all clients and suppliers
assuring them that the business is still viable
and that named individuals will be looking after
their accounts and business?
- Does the company have a corporate lawyer and a
corporate accountant who should be notified?
- Is there a summary of all business and personal
passwords to access bank accounts, tax accounts,
computer programs, Cloud applications, hard drive
backup, and client accounts?
- Are the minutes of the company kept up to date?
- Do the registers of directors and shareholders
reflect current appointments?
- Is there a listing of all business and personal
insurance policies, RRSPs, TFSAs and other such
investment vehicles that must be accessed?
- Is there a listing of financing arrangements for
business and personal vehicles, and your residence?
- Is there a listing of all credit cards and required
passwords to determine balances owing?
Is your will up to date to reflect
changes in your personal life?
- Is your will up to date to reflect a divorce, marriage,
acquired children or other dependants who
may have created claims on your estate?
- Have you determined what, if anything, you wish
to give to charities?
- Are survivors aware of who has the original will?
- Who is the executor(s) of the estate?
- Have insurance policies, RRSPs, TFSAs and the
like been updated to ensure that the named beneficiary
- Have you reviewed personal and business debt to
determine whether insurance coverage is adequate?
- Has a guardian for children or those with disabilities
- Is access to safes and safety deposit boxes guaranteed
with appropriate passwords, keys, and alarm
- Have you considered meeting with funeral directors
to discuss funeral arrangements (and payment)
for a religious funeral service, cremation or
burial to reduce the stress on survivors?
- Are family members aware that the Canada
Pension Plan will pay a death benefit to the spouse
and/or survivors in the event of your death?
- Have you considered a Statement of Wishes that
outlines such issues as funeral arrangements,
custody of children, and any other area that
you would like to be in place upon your death?
(Although not necessarily legally enforceable, it
does provide guidance to survivors in times of
- And finally… have you made a list of the abovenamed
items and provided those lists to the appropriate
individuals who need to know how to act?
We all put off what we should do today until tomorrow…
but what if tomorrow never comes?
The information provided on this page is intended to provide general information. The information does not take into account your personal situation and is not intended to be used without consultation from accounting and financial professionals. Allan Madan and Madan Chartered Accountant will not be held liable for any problems that arise from the usage of the information provided on this page.