No one likes to imagine that illness or death could compromise their family’s financial security. But, tragically and all too often, these things devastate families and leave them in a vulnerable financial position just when they need the most security. Spending only a few hours preparing for such a scenario might save your family needless trouble. Once, only fathers needed to worry about this, but today with two-earner families comprising the majority of American families, both partners should actively participate in planning to ensure financial security for themselves and their children.
At the very least, each partner should have a simple will specifying who will receive assets and who will take guardianship of the children. Financial professionals advise naming one person to control the financial assets and another person to take physical custody of the children. You can prepare your own wills by purchasing a kit online or at an office supply store. Although this is a good short-term solution, you should consult a lawyer as soon as possible, particularly if you have a lot of assets or there is disagreement in your extended family about who should serve as guardians for your children.
Adequate life insurance is also essential to protecting your family. The majority of Americans do not carry enough life insurance to ensure that their family will enjoy the same quality of life after their death. Simple term insurance is adequate for most people’s needs. Whole life policies rarely provide the same level of returns as other investments, such as stocks. Many insurance companies have life insurance calculators on their websites which will help you determine exactly how much insurance you need. Be sure to take into account any insurance provided by your employer. If one spouse stays home with the children, they should also be insured since the surviving partner will need to pay for child care and household services.
Most Americans are unaware that it is not death, but disability that most frequently causes financial problems for a family. Check with your employer to see if they offer short and long-term disability insurance. If not, have your insurance agent quote you for this essential coverage that will protect you and your family if you can no longer work.
Finally, long-term care insurance will cover nursing home or other types of ongoing residential care. Young people often overlook this coverage, thinking that it’s only for older people. However, head injuries, paralysis and other traumatic injuries often result in the need for long-term residential care.