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Friday, March 4, 2011

Where There's a Will...

2 Corinthians 12:14 "After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children."

(Cartoon courtesy of

If your week has been anything like mine, I don't have to explain my lack of recent posts... because you were too busy to notice!

First there was the Oscar party, which was AWESOME in many ways, especially the Best Supporting Actor Oscar going to my fav, Christian Bale. The ceremony itself... meh. Hathaway tried a little too hard to make up for Franco's "here but not here"/"too cool for the Academy Awards" attitude. Still, we had a splendid time at the party and ate gobs of delicious fattening foods and enjoyed the festivities.

That was just Sunday night. Then, the workweek began. Oh my... Too much to tell you here, so suffice it to say it was a loony week.

But, there were a few moments of sanity. Case in point: my husband and I finally "got around" to doing something we've been meaning to do since we got married last summer. We went to see a lawyer. "Isn't it a little late for a prenup?" you ask. "And a little early for a divorce?" Yes, on both counts. Not that we were (or are) planning on either. Ahem.

This week we went to see a laywer about getting our wills drawn up. Well, getting mine re-drawn and his drawn for the first time. Funny that I (by FAR the younger one) had a previous will and he did not. But, my best friend's parents just got theirs drawn up recently too, so I guess he's in good company. Procrastinators anonymous, anyone?

Let me take this opportunity to pull out my soapbox and strongly recommend that you:
  1. get your own will drawn up (by an actual lawyer, not by or somesuch dubious online "service")
  2. buy some term life insurance while you're still young enough to get the good rates
"But I'm not young anymore," you say. Oh yes, you are. At least compared to how old you'll be in five years. And those rates? Yeah, they go up with your age... exponentially. It pays to lock in a thirty-year fixed rate (kinda like a mortgage) as early in your life as possible.

If you're not sure where to start, check out Their exclusive function is to examine the life insurance rates among the top companies (ING, Fidelity, Prudential, etc.) and figure out which rate is best (cheapest!) for you. It varies based on your age, gender, health, finances, job, and about a million other tidbits that only life insurance companies care about. I used SelectQuote to buy my policy a few years ago, and they were great to work with. Very courteous and helpful.

Now, be prepared because there will be a required blood and urine test.... I'm not even kidding. But it makes sense, if you think about it. These companies are investing (potentially) a quarter to half a million dollars in the average policyholder. It only makes sense that they would want to know what they're investing in before taking the plunge. Wouldn't you check the Carfax report on a used car before buying it? Same thing.

Ok, so you e-mail SelectQuote, schedule the exam (they come to your house and it takes about an hour—super convenient, if you ask me), pick out your policy coverage ($100K? $200K? $1M? It's up to you...), and lock in that rate for as long as possible. If you're young (read: under 30) like I was when I applied, you can usually lock in a ridiculously low rate. I think mine is something like $275 a year, which breaks down to $23/month or 75 cents a day! Isn't your loved ones' protection and peace of mind worth three quarters a day?

Do I sound like a MetLife commercial yet? I don't care. This is IMPORTANT.

If you die (which is a stupid way to put it—how about when you die), someone will have to take care of your final affairs. This includes not only funeral and dispersion of your estate assets but also paying off anything you owe. And if you owe more than your net worth? Guess what. Your wife/husband, kids, family, etc. get NOTHING. And they probably get stuck with $7,000 to $10,000 in funeral bills. (That's not an exaggeration; that's average.) Life insurance is an easy way to raise your net worth in the event of an early/unexpected death. And a will is an easy way to make sure your money goes to the people you want it to go to.

It's called life insurance for a reason. You want to insure (i.e. protect) your family from these bills. You also want to make sure ole Uncle Sam don't get his greasy mitts on more than he deserves. And guess what? If you don't have a will, your estate—everything you own, or owe, or both—could get stuck in a legal purgatory known as "probate," where it could sit for months while lawyers debate who gets what. In the meantime, your family has to foot the bill for your final expenses. A fun little addition to the grief, huh?

Look, none of us are planning to die anytime soon. But accidents happen. Say you get hit by a bus tomorrow. What would happen to your family? your bills? your investments? your pets? If you don't know, how are your spouse/kids/parents going to figure all that out after you're gone?

Are you getting the idea? Granted, this is a ranty post, but I think it's one of the more practical rant-worthy topics that is NOT taught or addressed very often, either in schools, churches, or families (or the blogosphere). These two key things—your term life insurance and your last will and testament—go hand in hand. Why not commit to getting them both done this spring? I promise you it's more important than cleaning out the garage or catching up on your hobbies.

Please, for your family's sake, don't put it off. Don't assume you will have time later. As Walter Payton said, "Tomorrow is promised to no one."

Here's my final pitch: When you die, your family is going to be heartbroken. Devastated. Paralyzed by their grief. Don't put them in a position of having to deal with sticky legal issues on top of their sorrow. Make it easier for them by planning ahead. Think of it as one last gift you can give your loved ones. It's not as much fun as a Christmas present, but I promise you (speaking from experience) it will be greatly appreciated.

"But I don't have the money to get my will drawn up or to buy life insurance right now," you say. Yes, you do. You just have to decide it's important. Where there's a will, there's a way.

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