It is an interesting day when you go to an appointment with a psychologist and then stop by your lawyer’s office to sign your wills on the way home.
I’m going to skip the psychologist talk for today and jump right into signing your will when you are going through RPL / miscarriage / infertility.
So, most of us understand that the point of a will is to provide direction about what to do with your assets upon your individual death or the death of your spouse and possible children, should everyone die in a horrible tragedy together. Contemplating death scenarios. Fun times (sense the sarcasm).
But, what gets kinds fun is deciding who gets what, how things will be divided, and who has the power to make all the decisions (and deal with all the family fights) as the executor. Both money and physical items need to be accounted for, if you care about where they end up.
So, we’ve been working on getting our wills done for quite some time – like almost 2 years. We always seem to get distracted by a miscarriage, and it gets pushed to the back-burner. When we started our wills we just assumed innocently enough, that we would have kids, so we didn’t need to pay too much attention to what happens if we don’t have children or if we have adopted and/or biological children. So, today, we finally finalized and signed them. They are done. As my husband said – one more item off the bucket list (okay, so we may have an odd sense of humor).
What made this process incredibly interesting for us is:
- Our crazy families will likely fight about everything. We’ve learned this recently with the deaths of both of my husband’s grandparents last year. His parents and aunts and uncles are not coping well (biggest understatement of the century), and dealing with the estate has destroyed the family. So, we knew when it comes to us, we wanted to control the fighting and we needed to choose a very firm person to be the executor. This was a hard decision, but was a very calculated decision.
- The entire will is now written around “should there be children either natural born or legally adopted”. This is not something we expected to need to state. I always assumed that any child, whether adopted or not, would be considered your child. While this is true in the legal sense, it may not be true of extended family and this can lead to massive fights to cut people, presumably the adopted child, out of the inheritance. So, we were very explicit on this as to ensure there is no room for argument.
- Preparing our will has forced us to spend a lot of time contemplating how we want the remains of our children to be dealt with should we all die at the same time. Yet, at the same time we have quietly dealt with 4 dead babies who never took their first breathe. It is fascinating to be going through this process when you are supposed to imagine a future with your living child dying at the same time as you, yet we are quietly losing a living child who will never even made it that far. It’s weird to say the least.
- We also know while preparing our will, we have to have a contingency plan in place for the distribution of everything, should we never have children. Then what? Who gets the money after that? Who’s next in line? Its great fun contemplating our future without children verbally, but to actually put it in writing is almost surreal. But, it is a real possibility or us, so it needs to be done. 2 years ago, we really didn’t put too much thought into it, because we assumed we’d have kids and we were unlikely to both die before that would happen. So, we originally just said that it would just go to our niece and nephews who are alive at the time of our death. Funny, how writing our wills, made us face up to this new reality that we really may not have children. So, this entire section was re-written yesterday to be much clearer and was surprisingly complex to address. First, we needed to be clear that step-siblings, counted as equals – the original language was just too vague. So with our original wording, it meant that if we die tomorrow, that means our entire estate would just go to a limited number of nieces and nephews, and that didn’t make much sense and isn’t actually what we would want. This wasn’t what we really wanted, and so we had to acknowledge the reality that 3 of our 4 combined siblings are younger than us, and presumably will have kids eventually. We needed to be clear that we wished the money to go to our siblings children should they have any and not directly to our siblings since we firmly believe they should all be okay in life (i.e. they are doctors, engineers, etc. so finances shouldn’t be a problem). And if they didn’t have children, then the money would go to the parents, with the expressed wish that it be saved for future children. What mattered to us, was helping fund education and first house purchases, etc. That said, we also had to acknowledge that we would not be leaving money to one sibling who is battling addictions, as he is currently wasting every penny he has on his addictions, and unfortunately due to past inheritance, he has more money than the average kid in their twenties (we can change this in the future if he ever cleans up his act). But, if he has kids, then his kids would still count. It was an oddly super easy discussion for my husband and I, but interesting for the lawyer to work out on the spot.
- Deciding who we would request to take legal guardianship of our children, should we die and they live. This was one of our easiest decisions. We love the people we chose, and we know they would love our children as their own. Yet, again, there we were put into writing a plan for a future with kids, knowing that this may never be our future.
- As for material items, we are not materialistic at all. While we like nice things, we could care less about things in the sense that they do not hold meaning. Rather our memories do. So, we decided to let the family sort out the things, with one exception – our dog. We absolutely love our dog. She is a very important member of our family and even if she gets human siblings one day, she will always be our fur-child. We need to know that she is loved wherever she goes, and we picked the person who will ensure she lives a happy and safe life surrounded by unconditional love.
Anyways, as weird of a process as this has been for us, I’m glad we did it. I’m glad they are signed and they are finished. Something about acknowledging our future family, or not, in a written legal document was…cathartic…weird…surreal… I’m really not sure the right word. But, what I do know, is now, if we ever do have healthy living child(ren), then they will be taken care of. And if even if we don’t, at least they are done. We’ve done our best to limit family fighting. We’ve done our best to be fair. Hopefully, should we in fact die, our families will understand our decisions.
We often travel within Western Canada, which means we have 2 airline options – Air Canada and WestJet. Up until now, we’ve had decent enough experience with both airlines (although we’ve noted WestJet staff are always rather happy, which we like), so we usually just pick who to fly with based on price and flight times.
Well, everything changed this past weekend. We discovered the absolute horribleness of Air Canada.
We booked flights 4 months ago for a weekend in Victoria, British Columbia. We planned the timing with our 4th pregnancy, because we hoped to be telling our family in BC about the pregnancy. We would be staying with a doctor, so if we did have any complications we’d have some of the best care around. Once we lost the baby, we decided to still go away for the weekend, because we really needed a few days away to try and relax.
So, anyways, here’s our delightful Air Canada experience. We went online to check in for the flight 2 hours after the 24 hour advanced check-in opened. It turned out all the seats were gone except one. So, I was able to check in, but my husband was not given a seat. We called Air Canada, rather upset.
We sat on hold for 2.5 hours!! I do not classify this as acceptable.
We found out that we would have to show up at the airport and go to the gate at boarding time to find out if my husband would get a seat. Interestingly, they required that I still fly without him and he would get a seat on the next available flight! So, I’d take our weekend couple getaway, to see his brother, all on my own (seriously, this is just not what we paid for – his brother is nice, but not quite what we were all expecting and definitely not what we paid for and definitely not stress free)! At most, they would give my husband a credit for his flight if they couldn’t get him on another one the following day! Needless to say, we were unhappy. We were told to show up at the airport incredibly early (4 hours was the suggested timeframe, domestic flights is typically 1 hour), in hopes of being there before anyone else on our flight in this situation, but it wouldn’t be addressed until we were at the gate. The very nice gentleman, filed an ‘escalation’ report, in which a more senior person would call us back to discuss the situation when available. This could be before the flight the next day, or not. It would depend on how busy they are and he couldn’t give us any clear indications of the timeline.
The next day, we didn’t hear from anyone, so about 7 hours before the flight, I decided to call Air Canada again and see if I could talk to someone who could actually help. Well, another hour on hold, someone finally answered. They hung up on us. It may have been an accident, but still. So, once again, not acceptable customer service and our frustration is just increasing….
Eventually, about 5 hours before the flight, as we are heading to the airport, we did get a call in regards to our escalation report. My husband spoke with him, because I was so upset it wasn’t a good idea for me to give him a piece of my mind. He nicely promised that if my husband couldn’t get on the flight, then at least they’d make an exception and refund us both our seats. So, they would completely ruin our weekend, but they’d be incredibly generous and give us our money back rather than a credit (sense the sarcasm). And, if we did actually get to Victoria, they would book us seats for our return flight home, so we wouldn’t get caught in this situation again. Again, generous.
I should note that in the end, we both got onto the plane. Someone cancelled their flight, so there was enough room for him and the other individual that was in the same situation.
So, what did we learn through this experience?
First, Air Canada oversells there flights.
Second, the cheapest seats with Air Canada, known as Tango, do not guarantee you a seat. When you are paying, you have to pay the extra fees to reserve a seat (note if my memory serves me correctly, that booking seats for 2 people would have upped the airfare by $160 or nearly 20% of the original price). If you do this, then you are more likely to get a seat, but still not guaranteed. This is explained in the fine print, but is not made obvious while you are booking your flight or choosing to pay for advanced seat selection.
Third, they are not willing to compensate there customers for frustration and time lost caused by their insane policies. We sat on hold for over 3.5 hours, spent over 1 hour on the phone, and had to arrive at the airport 4 hours early for a domestic flight in hopes of getting my husband a seat, we had to reorganize the dog sitter to accommodate the early arrival time at the airport, etc. We booked the evening flight so that we could work a full day, instead my husband took an unplanned afternoon off to hang out at the airport. We simply got the “should have read the fine print” response.
Fourth, somehow Air Canada is able to operate a multi-billion dollar corporation with the absolute worst customer service I have ever experienced.
So what do we recommend to other travelers within Canada?
If you wish to avoid this situation the best solution is to fly WestJet and never ever fly Air Canada. WestJet never overbooks there flights = situation avoided!! Oh, and as an added bonus, WestJet staff are always much friendlier.
All I can say is Air Canada = epic fail. You have lost 2 customers because we expect that when we purchase something, we will actually get it!
And, WestJet, you have just gained 2 loyal customers! Looking forward to our next flight with you!