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Planning for the Worst: What happens if we die?

Estate Planning

The intention of this article is not to be morbid, but to actually encourage responsibility. When my wife and I had our second child, it wasn’t long after that we realized there would be no way either of us could raise the kids on our own, heaven forbid something were to happy to either one of us.

Even more importantly, we realized that heaven forbid something happened to the both of us, our children’s keepers would need tremendous help financially. With that being said, I would like to share the steps we took to plan in the event our children were suddenly without one or both of their parents.

Have the Conversation
I think it is important to sit down with your spouse and have a serious discussion on the topic. My wife and I went over things such as:

  • Would we stay in our house?
  • Would we move?
  • Would we still work?
  • Who would become the guardians? (in the event something happened to the both of us)

This discussion was very helpful because not only did it help my wife and I think about some of these answers, but it also made each of us realize what would be best for the kids. Also, when thinking of potential guardians for our children we didn’t just assume that our decision was fine, we actually asked the people we thought of to confirm.

Take Action
There were three basic things my wife and I did to help us in case a tragedy became a reality.

  1. Set up life insurance policies
  2. Set up a will
  3. Set up a by-pass trust, which is a trust vehicle used to minimize taxation of assets upon the death of a married couple

We knew very little about this stuff and where to start, so we needed help. Therefore we personally reached out to an insurance agent to help us find the right insurance policies. We were lucky to find a good agent who presented multiple options to us and we were satisfied with our selection. We also went to see a lawyer specializing in estate planning who set up our will.

Additionally, they presented many estate tax shelter products, one of which was the by-pass trust. I’m sure there is a lot of research that can be done on the internet, but personally I felt it was better to talk to someone, so they could actually explain everything to my wife and I.

Get a Safety Deposit Box
Once we had everything set up, we realized that it was probably not a bad idea to have the will, life insurance policies, and other relevant documentation in a safe place. Therefore we purchased a safety deposit box at a local bank. The cost is minimal and there is no concern with fire/theft and no confusion about where the documentation is located.

Send a Memo
My wife and I thought it was a good idea to put together an email to several family members containing all the information they would need to know in the event something where to happen. In the email we included the following information:

  • Where the safety deposit box was located with all the documentation
  • The name and contact information of our insurance agent
  • The name and contact information of our lawyer
  • Employer life insurance information for both my wife and myself
  • Employer HR contacts and phone numbers

Bottom Line

Again, the intent of this article was to be responsible. Planning for this is not fun and the whole process is morbid, however I feel at ease knowing my children and spouse will be taken care of in the event something were to happen.

One Response to “Planning for the Worst: What happens if we die?”

  1. Myself says:

    Getting around to writing a will has been a topic of discussion around the house lately. But actually sitting down to formulate a plan, and follow through. It’s like we’ve hit a wall. On a positive note, the explanatory email to the family is brilliant.

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