Prepare for life before the unexpected happens
It’s been almost two years to the day since my father died. It was very sudden and unexpected. He was only 50 years old, and unmarried. Though he passed away from congestive heart failure, he was still an extremely healthy, strong, fit, happy man.
I was only 26 years old. I’m a young mom, and my daughter was only two years old at the time. My husband and I both worked, but we didn’t have a lot in savings. Being an only child, I was suddenly hit with the realities of funeral costs, and all the other stress that comes with a loved one dying. My dad had no life insurance, living will, savings or anything at all prepared. Thankfully, he had mentioned to me in past conversations that he wished to be cremated. However, other than that, I was on my own as far as decision-making.
I was suddenly in charge of doing all of these things that I had no idea how to do.
I was trying to cancel his health and car insurance, close out his bank accounts, sell his vehicle, clean out his apartment, notify all his loved ones about what was happening, meet with the funeral home regarding arrangements, etc. I was not prepared for this. Especially because I was doing it while working 40 hours per week, and toting a toddler around with me everywhere.
Luckily for me, my grandmother stepped in and offered to pay for funeral expenses. We did everything as inexpensively as possible. Dad was cremated, which eliminated other expenses such as embalming. We had services in our church instead of a funeral home. We only put notice of death in two local newspapers instead of any state or national ones offered. We opted to bring some of my dad’s own beautiful plants from his garden instead of paying for flower arrangements.
We tried to make everything as simple as possible. Even then, after all was said and done, the funeral cost us a little more than $11,000. This sort of bill would have crushed my new, small family. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have my grandmother, or if she had not been able to help me with these expenses.
This experience taught me that life insurance isn’t just for older adults. You never know when something will happen, and when your family is already grieving and completely lost without you, you don’t want to burden them with more stress and a whopping bill on top of such an emotional situation.
In the time since my father’s death, my husband and I have decided to divorce. I have asked to ensure a life insurance requirement is written into the parenting plan we are creating for our daughter. We’ve agreed to both carry a policy (of an amount we decided together) with our daughter as the ultimate beneficiary. This can be handled a number of ways, including for example, a Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) custodian designation or testamentary trust as beneficiary. She will never be put in the position that I was when my father died. We want to make sure our daughter is provided for, no matter what. It’s easy to think if something were to happen to my ex-husband today, that I could raise my daughter on my own with only my income to provide for her. However, the truth is, it would be difficult for me to help her buy her first car or pay for college.
We want to make sure just in case anything were to happen to either of us, she would still have all the opportunities and dreams we hope for her in life.
I felt it was important to share my personal life insurance story.