Sunday, January 06, 2008

So, If Al Died Today . . .

One of the scarier aspects of getting older and having to (heaven forbid) be an adult is dealing with life insurance. We started early on this path, so it's not like we are starting from scratch, but we are re-evaluating, in light of the possibility of Al's retiring from the AF and my MS diagnosis. Come to find out, my MS is not the hurdle we thought it would be. But that wasn't the weird part.

The financial advisor who has been helping us asked me, "If Al died today, what would you need? Beyond all the emotional needs and the time to recover, what will you need to go on, to take care of you?"

Besides paying off the house, I had no idea. That's what you do, right? You insure enough to pay for funeral expenses and paying off the house and paying off bills. And I really don't want to talk about this right now. I know, I know we need to talk about it, but give me a minute to not feel weird about it.

So, after a few moments of babbling "I don't know" and "I'm not sure" and other such things, he gave me a break and helped me out with some questions.

"How much of his pay will you need and for how long?"

All of it for as long as I can get it. After all, I'm going to have the same bills for awhile, especially if I keep the house. And if I sell it, then there's a whole new set of bills that will come with that.

"Most spouses want to ensure they have income for a certain number of years--1 to 5 maybe."

Al said, "She'll probably just need a year."

Thanks for your confidence in me, honey, but I think it will take longer than that. It's not like I can go out and get a job making even a third of what you make. I can't even be a decent office assistant because I'm so far behind in the computer world. I'm amazed I can create a Word document.

"Five years," I said. "I don't know what job I would get or when, so five years."

"And what would you like to do?" he asked. After an appropriate time of no response he again helped me along, "will you want to go back to school or travel . . ."

"I'd like to move to Scotland and open a B&B," I said with a chuckle.

He shrugged his shoulders and opened his hands as if to say, "Well, would you?"

Oh no way! This guy's not serious. I can't talk about something as extravagant as moving to another country when my husband is gone when he's sitting right here. But maybe I could ease into another idea.

"Maybe not that, but I would like to have my own business. Maybe open a shop or buy into a franchise. Something that would be mine, something that will make enough money for me to live on for a long time."

"About $100,000 for that?" he asked, and I just nodded.

Well, Al's looking at me like I've lost my mind. He's not quite sure what to think and I'm feeling pretty guilty about how well I'm making out here.

"And Al, you've done a good job setting up investments for retirement. Many spouses will put aside moneys to be put into those accounts, just to give a head start for their spouses who will be taking them over. Is that something you would want to do?"

Like he's going to say no. You're not going to say no, are you, Al?

So, there's an another addition to the ol' total. Amazing. And then something occurs to me.

"When my dad passed away, I remember that my step-mother had to buy a car that would get around in all kinds of weather because he wouldn't be able to drive her. So, I'd like to be able to get another car if I needed to--something newer because all of our cars have around 140,000 miles on them."

Well, honestly, this is something I had thought about. If I didn't have Al I would be in a lot of trouble because I hate dealing with cars. He's the one who keeps them up and calms my nerves about driving, so if he wasn't here, I would need something newer and with low maintenance needs.

So there we go. I get to pay off my house, live off Al's salary for 5 years, open my own business, keep my retirement accounts and get a new car. How are you feelin' Al? Good? Damn.

Then it was his turn. We live on Al's salary, so he'll actually be better off without me drawing on it. He would keep his job and probably move into a smaller place, but it would be nice to pay off the house. Maybe a car? Maybe a trip? Basically, I'm worth so little as far as insurance is concerned, we have actually over-insured me.

That's just sad. When you a put a monetary value on me, I'm worth very little. So, I'll just have to make up for it with my "you can't live without me" abilities.

On the ride home, Al was pretty quiet.

"That was pretty weird, wasn't it? I felt kind of guilty talking about what I'd do if you were gone," I said.

He just nodded. "That's the first time I've heard a franchise mentioned. I knew you would like your own shop or business, but I didn't know about a franchise."

Truth is, I just thought of it right then. It seemed like an easy way to open your own business--something already established and successful, with a proven business plan. I'm all for easiest and fastest.

It was a really quiet ride home after that.

So, on we go to the next step. We'll be comparing some policies, prices, and our advisor will patiently try to explain it to my muddled brain. I'll be trying really hard not to glaze over. Responsible adults don't glaze over! They listen and make intelligent decisions. They don't look at their husbands, hoping they'll just tell them what would be best. But that's what I want to do.

Until the next appointment, I'll just take Scarlette's advice and "think about it tomorrow." But I think I'll google popular franchises. Just for fun.


Peggy said...

Trying not to glaze over. That's a toughie. I think it is good that you two are tackling this early on. Have you written your wills?

susan said...

This is a hard thing to do...something we only talk about in jest. Like how Shaun should kick off so that I get the most money... But to get serious about it, my brain just glazes over as I don't want to go there. I guess we should...

R.E.H. said...

That has got to be one weird thing to go through... discussing what one would do should the spouse no longer be around.

It's just one of those things one does not really want to think about, nor think about one's own passing.

Curious though... did they just hint at paying up for a move to Scotland as part of an insurance plan?

Kell said...

r.e.h.--yeah, that's very possible. I actually turned down some of his suggestions because all I could see were the dollar signs of the policy. Trying to find a balance.

Jay said...

It's a pretty unpleasant thing to do, but necessary. Kind of like getting a living will, something I still haven't done, but we all should do. We don't want Sean Hannity getting to decide when the plug gets pulled, ya know.

The only thing I have of value though is my iPod. I haven't decided who I will leave that to yet. ;-)

Karen said...

I guess as someone who deal with things like Will and Pre-Nupts on a daily basis, I don't find estate planning an unpleasant thing to do. It is a responsible thing to do. Something that is done out of love for your spouse or children or loved ones.

I applaud you for going through with this. Better to prepared than screwed if the worst were to ever happen.

Sparkling Red said...

I agree with all of the above. Even the most responsible adults cringe inwardly when forced to consider worst-case-scenarios.

By the way, I've heard some terrible things about franchises. Buyer beware!

jd said...

My two cents worth is insure the heck out of Al and get very little on yourself. It's not a question of how much your life is worth, but to protect you in case your MS gets worse. Buy only term life insurance. The costs have dropped so much that you should be able to get $500K on Al for $400 a year. Frankly, I would get $1 million because that would allow you to spend an initial 4% a year (i.e. $40,000) and then be able to adjust the annual draw for inflation. In other words, it will last your entire life if need be. It's just smart planning.

Tink said...

LMAO. I know it's not really a funny subject. But I couldn't help but chuckle over each new revelation. From finance to franchise to new car... If you're going to have to do without your beloved, you might as well get some good compensation!

Lena said...

Wierdly, we were having a similar conversation not that long ago and he reckons if he does pop off before me, he'll leave me his allotment to grow and sell veg from! Methinks we need a future review soon, too!

Kell said...

Thanks for the thoughts JD. I was kind of hoping you would pop in with an opinion. I thought about the MS, too, and wondered if we should increase his insurance just in case I get worse. And yes, we're planning on term. Thanks for commenting.

Thanks to everyone for commenting! I'm not alone!