After an exciting career with a major hotel chain, I sort of “stumbled” into financial services as a profession. I liked math, helping people and wanted flexibility in my schedule to raise my children. I sold life insurance, and quickly learned that people only buy life insurance if they have someone they care about. But most, at that time, were conditioned to think of life insurance as “money to bury me”. And so, the true meaning and purpose of life insurance didn’t yet resonate with 25 year old me.
So fast forward 10 years. Married and divorced, I then remarried and we blended our families. My new husband was widowed when his boys were little and I was now the mother to four boys, age range from seven to seventeen. It was a whirlwind. I worked part-time, and spent the balance of my time taking kids to and from activities, hauling bicycles to BMX tracks, and sitting on bleachers watching our youngest three boys do their sporting activities.
For those of you that have blended families, you know that it takes time to make everything “gel”. Yours, mine, and ours. Those difficult conversations around estate and legacy planning included the conversation about life insurance. I was fortunate that we were strong enough for us to discuss our new family’s needs. My husband and I both secured additional insurance, as well as had a clear conversation around beneficiary arrangements, etc… He wanted to make sure that he left his boys enough to “launch them” should something happen to him, and also to provide for me and my boys, enough to pay off the house and a cushion for education. I did the same. We were fortunate that we were in the business and not like the “plumber with leaky pipes at home”.
Four years into our busy, complicated chaotic blending of our families, my husband died, of a heart attack, in the middle of a sentence - on the way to dinner. No warning, no goodbyes, no anything. Sudden death is no picnic. It changes who you are forever. Nothing replaces loss. But loss is hard all by itself. I was fortunate that we had these conversations and his boys and I were the recipients of insurance checks that helped us in the transition to a new normal. They both got to finish college, and I had a cushion, that if I didn’t work, I could pay off the mortgage and educate my kids. It was hard enough to grieve and deal with all of the changes a sudden death brings, especially because we were in business together as well. Every part of my day had a void.
What a blessing, the insurance checks we received were. And please note: 1 was term insurance and 1 was whole life. They still added up to whole dollars. Does it matter? Not really. What matters is that I didn’t have to work two jobs to put a roof over my head. I didn’t have to tell my kids that we had to totally change our lifestyle because we had no money (even though everything changes when someone dies). I could run my business my way, without the pressure to meet minimum expenses. I didn’t have to “find another husband” to be able to pay my bills – I could hope to fall in love again, my way.
So comprehensive financial planning has been a perfect fit for me. I love that in the process of getting to know my clients, I can empower them to have the difficult conversations around estate, legacy and succession planning, not just wealth management. Even if they are a blended family, with multi-generational businesses, and complicated dynamics, we find creative solutions that can give everyone a sense of security and empower them to take action before it’s too late. I never thought in my 30’s, that the word “widow” could apply to me. Nor did I understand the really meaning of life insurance – LOVE.