My senior year at Van Nuys High School, I asked Jill (not her real name) how her brother Jack (not his real name) was doing at Berkeley. He was one year older than us and I knew he had gotten in. Jill was reticent as my questioning lead from one unfortunate circumstance to another in their lives.
Jack and Jill were honors students from a traditional Korean family that had immigrated before they were born. Their family had instilled a dedication to education that is a cherished value in their culture. So I was very surprised to learn that Jack was not going to Berkeley. The family couldn't afford it. He was taking night classes at a local community college.
This seemed rather odd to me, since he was a good student and was undoubtedly able to get financial aid. The problem was that he needed to work full time. Their father had died unexpectedly in the summer. He was a partner in a business with no life insurance. As with many partnerships, the surviving partner gets the whole of the business. It is a legal reality most people do not really think about.
Jill's mother had never worked outside the home. She had limited English skills and the idea of sending her to work a menial job instead of Jack would have embarrassed the whole family.
It was obvious that Jill had not spoken to many people about what happened. She told me how Jack had risen to the occasion. He was taking care of her and his mother. Jill was very proud and thankful. She told me a detail that really hit home in my teenage sensibilities. While cleaning out his father's safe at the office, Jack had encountered the keys and registration to the new BMW his father had bought him to take to Berkeley. It was a present to show how proud he was of his son and to reward his hard work in school.
Jack had to sell the car himself, even though it was for a fraction of the price his father had paid.
I cannot fathom how bitter of an experience that had to be.
Unfortunately, we tend to think of buying life insurance as part planning to die. Life insurance is not for the purpose of leaving an inheritance. It is not for paying for a funeral. It should not be bought for the old and sickly. Life insurance replaces an income that your dependents depend upon. Life insurance would have allowed Jill's family to continue their lives. It would have allowed Jack to go to Berkeley and maybe even keep the new car his father had bought.
If you want to leave an inheritance, go to a financial planner. Life insurance is very rarely a good investment. If you want to cover your funeral, go to a funeral director. You will get what you want at a better price as well as making life much easier on those you leave behind. If people depend on your income, buy life insurance.
Ask yourself: how much money would the people who need me the most require to continue living without me? Then contact a qualified life agent, like me, to get you the coverage you need.