Tag Archive for: life insurance

Seventeen years ago

Springtime in Michigan. Sunny, warm breezes, promise of summer. But a cold winter for Lansing Car Assembly. For 120 years, the factory churned out REO Speedwagons, tank cannons, aircraft machineguns, millions of artillery shells, muscle cars, and the last Oldsmobile convertible. GM’s most efficient plant. But the last Olds, a sporty Alero, drove off the line on April 29, 2004. It was over.

Fred and Barney walked away. Friends since their Lansing Technical High School days. They hired into the plant soon after graduation in the 60’s. Married to Wilma and Betty, Lansing Central girls they met at a Junior ROTC dance. The girls joined the steno pool soon after the boys went to work.

Many years later, the two men retired from the plant Ransom E. Olds founded so long ago. Pure Michigan. These older gentlemen were very much alike. Team players. They got the job done. Both had better-than-average careers. Personable, well-respected, and secure. Revered members of their church. Paid-for home in a nice neighborhood: $175,000. Savings of $200,000 from the days before 401(k) plans. Life insurance: $75,000. No debt. Conservative investments. Three kids. Three grandchildren. No bad habits (except spoiling the grandkids).

As new retirees so often are, both were filled with dreams for the future. Time to spend more time with the important people. Wives, kids, grandchildren. Tinkering in the shop. Volunteering at church. Traveling. Enjoying the retirement freedom and security they worked for, looked forward to, earned.

Last week. Still the same…

Every year, when the weather begins to turn, Fred and Barney return to visit. Nothing to see, really. Just memories.

They were still very much alike. Both healthy. Still devoted to their wives. Not all marriages thrive for fifty years. Both primary caregivers for their high school sweethearts. At home. Sadly, just a few short years into retirement, Wilma and Betty were stricken with Alzheimer’s.

But there are enormous differences.

Barney struggles to make ends meet. Living in subsidized senior housing. “On duty” 24 hours per day until his health broke. Exhausted. Retirement savings, Life insurance, Comfortable home – all gone. Betty went to memory care first. Now, the nursing home. Bank account emptied, retirement benefits cut, Barney needs every penny of social security.

Fred recently hosted his favorite (his only!) granddaughter’s wedding. “Uncle” Barney was an honored guest. Nothing high society, but really nice. One hundred and twenty close family and friends. Life savings intact. Independent, secure. Yes, he is Wilma’s primary caregiver. But she still lives at their home. And he has plenty of help.

Fred’s superpower is the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). PACE is the Medicaid program that provides services at home. No worries. COVID emergency rules let him keep the home, workshop, life savings.

Why Is One Desperate And The Other Secure?

Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes this kind of difference in a person’s life? It does not seem to be natural intelligence or talent or dedication. I do not believe that Fred wants security, and that Barney does not.

Doesn’t the difference lie in what each person knows and how he or she uses that knowledge?

Every week we offer LifePlan™ Workshops and Webinars. Each week you are given a precious opportunity. You can say “Yes.” Yes to planning, security, choice. Middle class folks do not have to go broke. But traditional estate planning is broken. And that is the difference.

What is knowledge without action?

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge

Years ago, Fred and Wilma invited Barney and Betty to join them at a LifePlan™ Workshop. Barney and Betty were too busy. Fred and Wilma made the time. Learned the lessons. Established their LifePlan™. It cost money. And effort. But Fred and Wilma (to be honest, it was mostly Wilma) persisted. And those law firm people made sure Fred and Wilma understood every step along the way.

When Alzheimer’s struck Wilma, Fred was ready. Health Care documents: Patient Advocate, Advance Directive, HIPPA releases. Even a funeral representative paper. Locked and loaded. Financial documents: Pantry Trust, Protection Trust, Financial Power of Attorney, Assignments, Deeds. Fort Knox safety.

Trusted professionals who do not charge by the hour. Everything quoted in advance. Friendly, reliable paralegals and attorneys. They sure seem willing to help. They say, “Always a free phone call. Always a free visit.” Maybe it is all just an act! But it is a pretty convincing act. Over all these years. And they have been darn helpful. Like with that wedding planner’s contract… Maybe they mean it…

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose” — Janis Joplin

Barney and Betty’s son-in-law told them about free fill-in-the-blank estate planning forms and cheap on-line services. A dedicated helpful son-in-law, he even printed them out on his own computer.

Free. Except for the $200,000 of life savings. Free. Except the $175,000 home. Free. Except the $75,000 life insurance. Yes. Free. Except for a lifetime’s worth of work and savings. Free. Except for that.
Maybe Janis was right. The most expensive things in the world are “free”.

LifePlanning™ works for you, your loved ones, your greater circle of friends. Have you heard about PACE or the new COVID emergency rules anywhere else?

Heartfelt Thanks To Geraldine T. Richardson – Special Contributor

I wish to recognize Geraldine T. Richardson (not to be confused with the other Geraldine Richardson who is a fine person but has no middle initial) for her inspiration. Geraldine has personally experienced, in her own family, the difference LifePlanning™ can make. I think it is fair to say that she is a little frustrated that more folks do not take advantage of these opportunities. (Hey, I’m doing the best I can!) When I asked Geraldine what more we could do, she said “Tell them, David! Tell them!” “How?” I replied. “Tell them about real families! But change the names…”

Call The Lifeplan™ Hotline Today at (800) 317-2812

by Samantha Sprague, Attorney

CONGRATULATIONS! Becoming a parent is an amazing experience. One thing you should be accustomed to by now is asking questions. Sometimes you get a lot of ‘answers’ to questions you may not have even known to ask.

Whether you’re brand new to the parenting gig, or have several years under your belt, below are 3 common questions that every parent should consider.

1. What happens if I can’t make my own choices?

Self-care is important, to your sanity and to your health, and sets an important example for your little one. I meet with a number of parents who come in with the primary goal of taking care of their kids.

It doesn’t matter if the kids are 2, 22 or 55 – every good parent wants to make sure their kids are protected. However, the first thing any parenting book will preach is to make sure you take care of yourself.

Estate Planning is no different. Even before you bring your bundle of joy into the world, there are two documents you should have in place: (1) Healthcare Power of Attorney and (2) Financial Power of Attorney. This is the entry level of protection to make sure that if something awful occurs (e.g. car accident, stroke, medical procedure, etc.) you know who will be managing your assets and making medical decisions for you.

This is something that you should have in order before your little one arrives, but if they’re already here, there’s no time like the present to get started.

2. Who is going to take care of my child if I can’t?

No one person is invincible. You need a backup plan in case life goes drastically wrong and you are no longer able to care for your children.

What happens if you die?

Some people leave it up to chance and rely on the probate courts to pick someone to raise their kids. Generally, the courts will give preference to family members, but there are a lot of factors that are taken into account for something called “Judicial Discretion.”

Judicial Discretion means that where your kids end up is entirely in the hands of the probate judge, a person who has never met you, does not know your family, and is unaware of your wishes.

What can you do?

Every parent – regardless of how much money they have in the bank or what they own – should have a will. A will is where parents get to determine who is going to raise their kids if they cannot.

If a parent has guardianship and conservatorship language within their will, they get to choose who their child will live with and who will manage the stuff they leave behind for their child.

This does not eliminate parental rights if your child still has a surviving parent. However, if both parents should die or be incapacitated, the testamentary wishes (Will) outlined by the parents serve as guidance for the court.

There are other considerations that should be addressed with blended families, step-parent’s rights, and same-sex parents.

Each situation is unique and you should consult with an attorney on what your legal rights are and how you can make sure you are putting the right documents in place to provide surety that you decide who raises your kids.

3. How do I protect my kids with my Estate Planning?

As parents, we are hardwired to look out for our kids, to protect them, and to teach them to protect themselves when they are able to.

However, everyone approaches parenting a little differently.

There are helicopter parents trying to ‘bunk’ with their college-aged kiddo, and then there are those employing the sink-or-swim method my grandpa used to teach my mom how to swim in Lake Erie.

With your estate plan, you can put ‘safeguards’ in place for minor children, so the assets you leave are protected both FOR them and FROM them until they learn how to manage the money.

One way to ensure that anything you leave is protected is to create a Revocable Living Trust. This is a document that can be modified as your family grows and requires different types of protection.

A common practice within trusts is to put age restrictions in place. When you have multiple children of different ages you can ensure that minor children receive what they need while still allowing for a fair distribution.

If you are like many young parents, you may find that you are worth more dead than alive due to the low cost of life insurance. Making a trust the beneficiary of life insurance policies can ensure the money is protected for your kids.

There are numerous options for protecting assets for your kids. However, whatever you decide to put in place, it is important to remember that as your life changes and your kids grow, you should plan to update your documents. We recommend annual or semi-annual reviews to make sure your documents evolve along with your family.

© 2024 Carrier Law | Privacy Policy