Thursday, November 19, 2009

When you die, what will happen to your hockey cards?

If you are a long-term planner, you might have already formally decreed your wishes so the government will not be the one dividing up your hockey cards among your friends. For the rest of us, single or married, young or young at heart, is going to the trouble and expense of making a will worth it?

Recently, the Globe and Mail did a quick online plug for the law profession on why we need a will. They said: "When you get married, you become financially tied to another human being. At this point, people consider buying life, as well as critical illness and disability, insurance. Honeymooners might also need travel insurance. Writing a will may not be romantic, but it’s a task newlyweds can’t ignore if they want to protect each other in the event of a tragedy." Well, that sounds like there are very grave consequences to not having a will for newly weds and the rest of us. So, I had to get to the bottom of this.

As I further read the article, it did point to some important situations where a will would be helpful in distributing your wealth. For example, if you want to prevent family feuds, if you want your spouse and kids to share your insurance money, or if you want to make sure King's gets some cash and Danny-boy will likely spend it all on a new BMW (OK that was not in the article but it should have been...). Also, if you want to give money to a charity or your alma mater (did I already say that?). According to this article, I gathered that: If YOU want will get a lot of utility in knowing who gets what (i.e. if you want to ice someone out), then a will is for you. If you don't care, let the government (and your family) figure it out when you die. But, is there grave consequences for newly weds if they don't get a will?

Because I don't have a will, I want to know: If I die tonight, what happens? The answer (from what I can tell): my wife get everything in both our names, the government will likely give her the rest. At the very least, a hand written document (some lawyer is surely going to yell at me to saying that), signed and witnessed is one step in the write direction. Having someone carve your wishes in stone is the gold standard and you are improving your changes of making your wishes clear - this is the benefit. The cost is in terms of time (hard to quantify) and the fees (anywhere from $250-$1000). So, weighting the costs and benefits: Is it worth it? When you are lying in bed ask yourself: Should I pay to save others some grief and to have a say over my stuff when I die?

My view: I think the person who benefits from the will should pay to have it done. If they don't want the trouble, they might very well pay for you to write it up. It seems to me that the benefit to the individual whose stuff will be up for grabs is far less than the benefit to those who have to clean-up the mess once they die, I think I need to start a company called: - if you know what I mean.

So, this holiday season, preferable at the dinner table with everyone around, decide who is going to pay - if your parents don't have a will you might consider making an offer. Of course, you can always ask for that Wendel Clark Rookie Card you have always had your eye on in the process.

Helpful link I used: HERE I am not a lawyer and can't give legal advice, so please take this for what it is: An economist talking about wills.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What, so I took a short break ... again

Dear Blog,

Sorry, I have not been givin' you da love. It was not you, it was me. You see, time is costly and the marginal benefit of another post was low.

I have not forgotten you. I will return.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A must see: Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer

I will be share this with my class next week and I think it is a must see:


P.S. I know that I have failed many of my readers in that I have not explained the turmoil well enough. What can I say, teaching and working has been more intense than ever. Unsurprisingly, recessions are not good for a economist's workload.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pulling new rabbits out of the marco bag

In a matter of months, the focus and discussion of macro economists has done almost a 180 degree turn; peak oil talking-heads have taken a brake and fiscal stimulus is headed our way on Tuesday. What a perfect time to be teaching!

The first two teaching experiences I was able to use the textbook as a current/up-to-date source; the 'digging deeper' and 'focus boxes' fuelled our discussions of timely issues. Now, the text seems old and uninteresting. Two years ago this would have added a bit more work and cause some pain, but now, it is like wind in my sail.

Yes! I am happy to be teaching again! In the first lecture I told my class that I expected all of them to drop everything (other courses), take more economics courses and join us. Why? Because we will need their help! It seems that the global economy provided enough events in the past 6 months to keep a millions economists working for a career or two (example: here ).

A Brief History: In the throws of the depression, a member of the Canadian House of Commons stood-up and said: "What about these experts on the political economy, have they nothing to offer us? Nothing at all?" For decades, economists were held in lower social esteem. Then enter J.M. Keynes and crew, the social welfare state followed, and we slowly but surely gained some steam (every respectable company had a Chief Economist by 1972!). And then: Stagflation of the 1970s took hold. Economists were once again scrambling to find answers and once again we struggled to provide solutions to the economic ills.

Today: I have written recently that I think there has been a rise in economics's popularity but, once again, we are at risk of being put into the path of tomatoes and other like items if we cannot muster solutions. Now, the world is watching and we are banking on our tool kits to get us out of this!

After 18 years of expansion, the Canadian policy makers are being put to the test and it is exciting to be training young minds at such a time.