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Be Thankful and Prepared

Recently, I got a call at work from my husband.  It went something like this:

Husband:  "Hi. I'm in urgent care.  My headache hasn't gone away, I'm waiting for a CAT scan.  I've been here since 2 pm.  Can you pick up the kids?  You might want to call the sitter. I've gotta go."

Me: "Um, sure.  It's a quarter to five.  It's going to take me an hour.  Have you called the sitter?"

Husband: "I haven't had a chance. Can you?  I've gotta go."

Whaa?  The phone call caught me completely by surprise since (a) I usually don't get very many calls from my husband at work (b) we have not yet encountered a bind where I absolutely needed to pick up the kids (c) I only got enough information for all sorts of crazy scenarios to go through my head.

In the end everything turned out fine.  The diagnosis wasn't conclusive but something to the effect that he probably caught a virus and the side effect was a head-splitting migraine that left him unable to function normally for at least a couple of days.  However, for me, this was a good time to reassess our ability to deal with the impact of these worst-case scenarios.  When you're young, healthy, and financially stable you barely give thought to thing ever going wrong in life.  You start thinking about it more when you have kids.  And, then you really think about it when a situation scares you into more thoughtful consideration.

In my head, I made a mental note to check my husband's life insurance policy.  I have one for myself for enough to probably cover our mortgage, but that's it.  So, I googled to figure out how much insurance we would need. The results are dizzying.  According to a simple lookup table of just income replacement, my current insurance coverage probably would not be sufficient if something were to happen to me.  My husband's coverage would also need significant readjustment.  As a family, we do need to make the time to talk seriously about planning for life insurance. 

As I was chatting about this with a mama friend, she suggested also putting together a will.  So I mentioned this to my husband.  He thought this was a good idea.  "Sure.  Can you search for a form on the Internet?" he replied.  Yes, that's right.  That's what my lawyer advised!  There are plenty of documents that you can find or buy on the Internet to plan out your will and file with the local courts.  So, for those who have gone through both processes, it would so nice to hear from you, to see what's worked best for your families.

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There is a nice life insurance calculator at
http://www.life-line.org/life_how_ineeds.html
(an "industry sponsored" site) for comparing the numbers you came up with at Fool.

We just got our wills together using Nolo's Simple Will Book (check your neighborhood library). It comes with a CD of forms and has clear discussions of all the clauses that you may or may not need. It also has state specific info. After going through the whole thing, I think we have everything covered (that being who gets the kids and the life insurance if we both kick it!).

Getting the insurance was more difficult than the will (although getting it notarized was crazy -- my husband and I, 3 witnesses who are not mentioned in the will and the notary all in the same place at the same time!)

And now that it is all done, we are definitely worth more dead than alive...

I hope your husband is feeling better! Thanks for posting this. It's time for us to reassess, since we're having #2 and our income has changed over the last 2 years. I know we don't have enough for me. Have you thought about who would get your kids if you were both to die? We have been wringing our hands about this since Clara was born. Yes, we have siblings, but they're not equipped to raise her or this next one, on many levels. There are cousins in CA, but she doesn't know them, and it's far from my mom, who sees her several times a week. There's my mom, but she's 63...I don't want Clara to spend high school caring for an elderly woman. Oh, it's hard...

Kat: We've thought about who gets our kids, but it's hard because we have too many choices. There are two sets of grandparents, and six siblings between my husband and I. We have plenty of family that we would trust that our kids would thrive with any of them. I think we will need to seriously bring up the topic during our trip back to the Midwest next month.

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