There is an old saying that nothing is certain except for death and taxes. Neither of those are topics that we get very excited about. But the truth is all of us someday are going to breathe our last here on earth.
I hope that day for me is years down the road. I think most of us feel that way. But we also know we have no guarantees. Even if we are young and very healthy, accidents or unexpected illnesses happen.
Here is my question for you today, particularly if you are married. If you died tomorrow, would your spouse know what he or she needs to know to carry on?
Does your spouse know what bills come in each month and when you pay them? If you pay bills on-line does your spouse know the needed passwords to the sites where you pay bills?
If you were suddenly gone tomorrow would your spouse know what was needed to easily carry on with the day to day finances? Or in addition to the grief of your loss would your spouse feel lost in keeping the household afloat?
Do you have enough life insurance so that your spouse’s financial needs would be taken care of if you were gone?
While no amount of money could ever replace a loved one, in cold terms, life insurance is basically there to replace economic value that you bring to the family.
For example, did you know that if you are a 30-year-old male in good health, you could get a million dollars in 20 year term life insurance for just a little more than a dollar a day?
If something tragic happened to you, would knowing that their financial needs were covered make handling the grief just a little easier for your spouse? Again, no amount of money can replace a loved one, but if I at least know the bills will be paid and there will be food on the table, then I don’t have that stress added on top of my grief.
Secondly, if you have been responsible about getting sufficient life insurance, does your spouse know what policies you have and what companies/agents they are with? Does your spouse have easy access to the phone numbers they would need to call if something happened to you today?
The same questions apply here. Does your spouse know what investments you have? Do they know what funds you are invested in and why? Would they be able to carry on your investment plan after you are gone?
If you have an investment adviser, do they have the appropriate contact numbers? Does your investment adviser have a heart of compassion and the heart of a teacher such that they would be able to help your spouse make wise decisions if you were gone?
Have you double checked your beneficiaries lately? Will your money go to the right person? This is really important if you have recently had any significant life events like a marriage or divorce or the birth of a child.
Take time to create a legacy drawer
There are many names for this, but I like the term legacy drawer. Do you have one place where you have a record of all of your important financial documents? The idea of creating a “legacy drawer” is having one central place where you have defined all of your important financial records.
It doesn’t have to be a literal drawer. It could be a folder you keep in a safe somewhere. It could be physical or electronic. It doesn’t really matter as long as it is secure, yet your spouse could easily access it in the event you were no longer here.
This is the place to document bank accounts, investment accounts, debts, insurance details, phone numbers and passwords, location of wills, and any other information that your spouse would need if you were to suddenly pass away.
An act of love
Making sure your loved ones have the information they need to carry on is one wonderful way you can show your love.
I remember several years ago listening to a popular financial talk show. One caller called in to say her very young husband had just passed away and left no insurance and no savings. She was grief stricken and in a panic about how she would even be able to survive financially. Within the same hour another lady called in with almost the same situation with one important difference. He husband had a million dollar life insurance policy. She was calling to see what she should do with the money to invest it wisely so her financial needs would be taken care of. Both women were grief stricken and devastated. One woman was also wondering how she would eat tomorrow; the other had the comfort of knowing financially she was well cared for. Both were very young and never expected that they might be widows at that stage of life.
I don’t wish to be morbid, but the truth is none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. If we are a Christian, we have the comfort of knowing when that day comes we will be welcomed into our Father’s loving arms. And while that may be a comfort too for those we leave behind, that doesn’t alleviate the day to day needs to put food on the table and a roof over our head. Love your family well by making sure that no matter when that day comes, financially they will be well taken care of.