Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PSA for Coastie Families Without Contingency Plans

Contingency plans are must as most Coast Guard families know. We often have backup babysitters; extra clothes in our cars or a blanket for an emergency; dry food stores in our basements or pantries; first aid kits in the house and vehicle; phone trees; three different email addresses and multiple telephone numbers for spouses to reach us during deployments, and much more. What about the contingency plans for when tragedy strikes though?

Last year, a fellow Coast Guard wife passed away as many of you may recall. I remember her fondly as a spirited gal filled with love who was devoted to her family and her country, having service a number of years in the Coast Guard herself. She and her husband were about to embark on their twilight tour. They had four children, a teenager and three younger children under the age of 10. She was elated to be PCSing to a different place to round out her husband’s career. The news of her death was sudden, for everyone. It was tragic.

I recall the service; it was very moving, but truly sad and gut-wrenching. Not only was I heartbroken for her husband and her children and all those who loved her, but I began to fear for my own children. My concerns since have not waned. In fact, I have continue to be concerned for the welfare of my children should tragedy ever strike.

My man in blue and I have long had extra life insurance plans in place, but I have learned that many other military families do not. They simply rely on SGLI. Now, SGLI is a great benefit and one we are very fortunate to have. I am not discounting its worth by any means. Nonetheless, we have opted to increase our individual life insurance plans by purchasing additional insurance through another company. There are so many options out there and many are quite affordable, even for the less-than-wealthy fireman, with wife and one kid, living on one income.

In my assessment, life insurance is a gift to your children or your heirs. While you may not be here to see them reap the benefits or watch them enjoy whatever you may have left in terms of financial wealth or simple monetary sustainment; it can be a peace of mind thing. In the same vein, it can be a gift to your spouse or significant other left to take care of your remaining estate, debt, home, or whatever.

So, what if you have the money to ensure even a little bit of financial stability for your family after your gone? You may not want your children to have a lump sum to squander. You can always put it in a Trust. They are relatively simple to prepare, so long as it is done according to your resident state’s rules and/or statutes. There are many types too, including educational trusts where you can explain your wishes for money to be disbursed only for that purpose or at a certain age even.

If you have not thought about life insurance or how to plan for your families welfare after you are gone, maybe you should. Maybe you thought I’m too young. I’m in good health. The truth be told, we are not immortal and the best way to plan for the future, even if we may not be around, is to be honest with ourselves that things do happen.

Maybe you have come to the end of this blog and realized what a good idea a financial contingency plan is for your family—maybe you already have one in place—maybe you have decided it is still not something you are interested in. If it is the latter, just take a look around and at least check out some different options. You do not have to commit, but you may end up finding what works well for wallet and will give you some peace of mind at the same time.

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