If You Died Tomorrow, Is Your Family Ready?

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Have you thought about what would happen to your family if you were to suddenly die? Or what you would do if your spouse died? This may seem so far beyond your reality, but as I learned first hand, your world can change in a matter of 30 seconds. 

I was 27 years old with a two-week-old baby boy when my athletic, “healthy as a horse” husband suddenly dropped dead.

I was so lost and overwhelmed with this new situation that had been thrust upon me. Trying to stabilize your family situation while grieving and taking care of a new baby is excruciating, so here are three big things to do TODAY to love your family well and protect them in the event something happens. 

Three Things to Do Today to Protect Your Family

  1. Get Life Insurance

Do this now. I’m not talking about the expensive whole life that “you make money on” that some financial advisors will encourage you to get (because they make the most commission).

Get term life insurance for 5-7 times your income for the duration of the time that you have little ones (or any dependent) at home.

Longer if that makes you comfortable. If you’re a stay-at-home spouse, think about the cost of a nanny, cook, and housekeeper that your spouse will need. My life insurance at the time was for 250k which would have covered the cost. 

And for the love of all that is chocolate, do NOT get it through your work. Go through a private insurance BROKER (not a carrier.) That policy is not transferable if you were to leave. This means that if you were to develop a condition that makes you uninsurable, then you leave your current job, you’re not able to replace this policy without paying a SUPER high premium. Lock it in now while you are young and healthy

As a widowed parent, I have one million in coverage on me and only pay $62/month term for 30 years. This is the number that makes me feel comfortable for my son and it is SUPER cheap. 

2. Have Guardianship Documents in Place for your Children

This is important for single parents or in the case of both parents dying at the same time. If you die without this, your closest relatives will have to go through probate court to get appointed as the guardian of your children. This means they will be wards of the state until this time, which for me is a very scary thing to think about. This document is in addition to your will but in my opinion, the most important. 

3. Get a Will in Place for Both You and Your Spouse

I was able to avoid probate (probate is a court hearing where the deceased assets are claimed) because all of our joint assets were in both our names. If this is not something that you’re comfortable with then you will need to ensure that your will stipulates who gets what after you die. In order for vehicles to be retitled or house deeds to be transferred easily, you will have to prove that you have a right to those items. If your name isn’t already on it (so then you show a death certificate to get your spouse’s name removed)  you will go to probate court with the will and the death certificate to claim those assets. 

Ultimately, get together with an estate planning attorney in the area to go through your specific situation and family needs. I am not an expert, therefore I can only share my direct experience with you. However, had I not had these measures in place we would have been in a very different situation upon the death of my husband. This is something that you and your spouse need to discuss today and execute as soon as possible. 

Loving your family well from beyond the grave starts with planning and protecting them now while you’re alive. Having a will and discussing these things does not make anyone die faster, but they will make things a lot easier if the unexpected were to occur. 

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Born and raised in Mount Pleasant, SC, Sondra graduated from Wando High School and went on to Maine Maritime Academy where she was in the United States Merchant Marines for 10 years. She sailed as Captain for an emergency response company until she was 6 months pregnant with her sweet little boy Sullivan! After the sudden death of her husband in 2017, Sondra has now hung up her Captain’s hat to start Skip & Sully, Charleston’s only luxury indoor playground, parent’s club and flexible preschool. In her free time, Sondra and Sullivan enjoy traveling around the world together and can’t wait until their next trip! She is also a fitness fanatic (kickboxing, weightlifting & Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), book nerd & social butterfly!

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