Last year when my father passed away, I found myself as the executor of his estate with many responsibilities. In addition to finding a realtor to handle the sale of my father's home and hiring contractors of various sorts for quotes and repairs, I was also on the hook for making sure bills got paid. Where was that money supposed to come from?
Unfortunately for me, my father had not updated the beneficiaries on any of his life insurance policies in over 40 years, which is insane and downright criminal. All of his named beneficiaries has died way before him, including my mother who had died nine years earlier. That left us creating his estate's bank account with the little cash that was in his checking account and waiting a few months for the policies to pay to the estate instead of his heirs.
In that time, I realized that when someone dies there are a lot of people with their hands out wanting money. Here are a few:
- Contractors. As previously mentioned, we had to figure in the cost of repairs and upgrades to the house. Some we dealt with and others we passed along to the prospective buyers because they were just too much for us to afford.
- Attorneys. Our attorney let us know from the beginning of the process what the estimated bill will be at closing, so I have to make sure that money is on hand when we need it.
- Accountants. Be prepared to pay someone to handle your deceased loved one's tax preparation for up to 2 years (if they died before filing the previous years taxes plus the preparation of tax forms for the years in which they died), plus possible estate taxes.
- Funeral costs. I've mentioned before how my father pre-planned his funeral but didn't pre-pay. In other words he made a wish list. Inflation took it's toll from the time he chose his casket to when he would actually use it.
- Lien holders. This was one I didn't expect but a deceased person still may have debts to be paid off. My father was taking money from a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) which we were unaware of until his death. We settled up with the bank after the sale of the house but I can imagine other people have all kinds of debts that need to be taken care of with cash.
Think about your family for a minute and consider them being in a situation like that. Having to handle funeral directors, lawyers and other bill directors while grieving is a tough situation to put them in. You can avoid it by making sure you have enough life insurance available for them to handle easily and without going into debt or needing a GoFundMe page.
To help you determine how much life insurance coverage you need, we have included on our quoting software a calculator. It asks for numbers regarding your debts, including mortgage, as well as how much savings you have put aside. You may find out that you don't need as much as you previously thought.
If you have questions about making sure your life insurance will ease the burdens on your loved ones drop us a note. In the meantime, please stay healthy!
Chris Castanes is the president of Surf Financial Brokers, helping people find affordable life and disability insurance coverage. He's also is a professional speaker helping
sales people be more productive and efficient and has spoken to
professional and civic organizations throughout the Southeast. And please subscribe to this blog!