This is the first post in a long sequence where I want to share stories of real people I have met either while working with a life insurance company, or as an independent investment adviser. My goal is to share their stories so I can impart the lessons I learned in the hopes that these lessons will also serve others - this is for you, my readers!
*All my subjects will be either John or Mary, for privacy reasons.
While working with the life insurance company, I met a lot of blue collar workers in Virginia, as well as some in Tennessee (on a couple of road trips for the job). One lesson that always stood out to me regarding the importance of life insurance is that people need to make sure they have policies in place before something happens to them. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow, and we have to take care of our families for when we are no longer around to do it.
A couple of instances I met people who told me stories of their neighbors who passed away and didn't have life insurance in place. I will share here a couple of those stories.
In a family the adult daughter passed away unexpectedly, and the parents started asking the neighbors for donations in order to be able to bury her. Fortunately for the family, they were surrounded by helpful people who contributed what they could, and they were able to bury her. Unfortunately, not even a month later, John (the father) passed away due to a heart attack, also unexpectedly. He also left the family without the money to bury him - no life insurance either.
The spouse and remaining children had to go around the neighborhood again and ask for help. The second time around, things were event tougher - the neighbors were also tapped out now. The neighbor who shared this story with me never knew how they managed to pay for his funeral but they saw that the expenses were kept to a minimum.
While this is an example of solidarity and it shows how great it is to have helpful neighbors, the main lesson to learn is that covering the funeral costs is not a duty that should be passed on to the family, relatives or friends, and much less the neighbors. They are not responsible for someone not being considerate and caring enough to not leave the family in a tight spot financially.
The second lesson I want to share today is from someone in the Eastern part of Virginia. She told me of a friend who was caring for her grandfather in that area, let's call her Mary. She received a call that her father had passed away - he lived in the Western past of the state. She had to make arrangements regarding her grandfather's care in order to travel across state in order to take charge of the funeral arrangements. After running across state she found out that her father didn't have any life insurance, and she had to look for ways to come up with the money.
While in the process of figuring that out, she received a call from the person she had left with her grandfather and found out that he had also passed away. She ran across state to take care of his funeral - he did have life insurance. Afterwards she had to get back to the Western part of the state to take care of her father's funeral arrangements. She had to accumulate more debt by traveling back and forth because of the situation that she was left in.
Of course there is no reason to believe this is going to happen to any one of us. However, this does happen to people. So the moral of the story is to take care of our family by protecting ourselves with life insurance. The type and the amount will vary from one person to the next, so it is best to talk to a professional that can help. What is always true, is the fact that something is better than nothing. It can all be helpful.
Please remember this:
"Dear life insurance company, please let me know how I can return this check I received when my spouse passed away. I now have too much money coming to me from all the life insurance policies we had," said NOBODY ever.