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My Family

Getting A Bit of Peace of Mind in My Home (& My Life)

I need a “life” babysitter. I suffer from “no spare time” with a compounding condition of “avoiding anything stressful and intimidating.” We all have our strengths and weaknesses. For instance, I’m really good at memory hoarding and scrapbooking while generally brainstorming about how I can provide the best life for our kids (as you can see above, etc). But my biggest weakness is avoiding the responsibilities of adulting and I KNOW I’m not alone.

When we were up in Portland recently, my mom brought over boxes and boxes of old photos to the house. Memorabilia, report cards, family photos and generally just anything and everything worth saving from my childhood. Could it be possible that I got that gathering and saving bone in my body from my mother? Yes, it is quite possible. It’s something that I love to do and going through all of these childhood items only made me want to do the same for my children. Saving and hoarding into a box for each child is something that I can easily do. But life is much bigger than just a box of memories for each child. As their parent, I have to actually grow up at a certain point. But, like I said, I’m just not good at some adult stuff.

For example, until the last few years, we didn’t have a lawyer, a proper will, a trust or life insurance and when I thought about it, my anxiety would spike, I would text Brian maniacally about it, then his anxiety would spike, but neither of us would actually do anything about it.

Last winter, Brian and I were driving up to the mountain house in fog so thick you couldn’t see 10 feet in front of you. It’s a cliffside road that is absolutely terrifying without the fog. Velinda puked while I had flashes of us plummeting to our deaths and our children being orphaned. So I did what any responsible mother would do—I texted this to my brother:

“Can you ask Katie real quick if you guys will raise our kids if we both die?” Brian and I had, of course, discussed that before but I hadn’t actually asked Ken, and WHAT IF we died that day on the foggy cliff? At least a text would prove the intent so he could…show the police?? I realized yet again, that our “will” was an absolute joke.

In another instance, a few years ago right after having Birdie (and before a work flight), I literally Googled “will attorney, Los Feliz” in a fit of anxiety and this random dude from down the street popped up and for $75, he drafted up the most pedestrian will ever that basically just said who would inherit our assets should myself or Brian die first, and then if we both die, when and how the kids would split the money. We had it notarized that day. 

In case you are wondering how I run a business and have any amount of success it’s because I have a business manager that deals with the rest of adult life stuff—my taxes, bookkeeping, my company’s health insurance, business insurance, 401k, taxes, retirement, college fund, etc. I know that not everyone can have that person and that I am fortunate to be in a position where I can hire someone to handle the stuff that I know I’m bad at. When in doubt, I hire an expert. But you can’t outsource the decision of who is going to raise your children in the unlikely event of you driving off a foggy cliff.

It’s not that the answers to the questions are hard. A lot of them are easy actually but we’ve put off doing a proper will, trust and estate planning for the following reasons:

  1. It’s optional. Unlike taxes, you won’t get thrown into county jail for not having a will/trust, therefore you can use your highly tuned avoidance skills, feel guilty all day, but never actually do it. YAY
  2. You have to ask yourself a lot of very personal and perhaps depressing questions in regards to when you and/or your partner die. Being faced with your own mortality and picturing your kids without you is, well, not a day at Disneyland.
  3. It previously felt expensive and complicated. In the past, you would need an attorney to help you do all of this. Depending on the level and amount of your assets, they would work with you to create either a will or a trust. We don’t have a ton of tricky assets (no jewels, inheritances, family money, heirlooms, etc.), so for us, we didn’t need to go to a lawyer to figure out who gets Brian’s 1984 Craigslist pontoon boat.

The process has always felt complicated, intimidating, expensive, sad and stressful. No, thank you! I’ll be scrapbooking if you need me! Look, I’ve even done my own family genealogy, but I can’t do my own will?

Emily Henderson Haven Life Insurance 20188

But you want to know what is even more stressful than the process of getting life insurance or a will?


I’ve had friends whose relatives didn’t have trusts/wills and trying to deal with the fall out of a family member’s death while trying to find passwords leads to the most negativity you can imagine (and litigation if you have assets people might fight over).

Yes, there is a point (and hope) to this anxiety rant.

Last year, I wrote about online life insurance agency Haven Life and how they changed the game to make buying term life insurance easier for me and our generation of non-adulting digital users (I think I just defined ‘Millenials’), and now GUESS WHAT?? They have added a rider to their policy that provides tools and services to make lives (like mine) less anxiety-ridden. This rider (think bonus feature) called Plus provides Haven Life customers with access to benefits, either at a discount or at no added cost, like an online will (for both you and your partner) and other services. All just for being a policyholder. In a perfect world, we would all have fancy lawyers and a financial advisor that would walk us through this stuff. I’d also love a chauffeur. But most of us don’t have one and for many of us, it’s just not necessary because we don’t really have enough assets to make estate planning overly complicated. I’m not Ivanka Trump. I have a business, a mortgage (or two) and two kids. But just because my assets aren’t as large as her’s doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have something in place. My suggestion: start with your will. Get that done and get the comfort and feeling of accomplishment knowing that you have done that and it is in place. It will make it that much easier to do additional estate planning once you know your assets and family are looked after.

So, who should get life insurance? I am no life insurance salesman but what it breaks down to is that most people need it if they have people who rely on them financially. So if you have kids, financial dependents, a partner that doesn’t work or that you share financial obligations with, then life insurance is something that you should consider. It could also be necessary if you have privately funded student loans and someone who cosigned them. Having that financial backup plan is something that should be talked about with your loved ones and considered if it is the right fit for you. Just as an example and reference point: a healthy 35-year-old woman can purchase a 20-year, $500,000 Haven Term policy, issued by their parent company MassMutual, starting at about $18 per month. $18 a month isn’t nothing, but the peace of mind that comes with it can’t really be quantified to a dollar amount.

The process for applying is easy, online and it walks you through it step-by-step, and you find out instantly whether you’re approved for coverage. Haven Life is backed by MassMutual which is one of the oldest life insurance companies out there. With over 160 years in the business, they know what they are doing.

They make it not intimidating and as simple as possible (thank goodness). There isn’t a lot of vocabulary that I don’t understand and honestly, the graphic design and branding of the site make it a more pleasant experience (i.e. makes it more user-friendly, frankly…easier to use means you’ll probably actually use it, I say). For what it’s worth, and to me, this is worth a lot; they designed and built the entire site from the direction of customer feedback and research. So the site was literally built for people like you and me.  

If you checked it out last year and your state wasn’t covered (or you didn’t need coverage yet), then check them out again because Haven Life is now nationwide.

Emily Henderson Haven Life Insurance

But their new add-ons via the Haven Life Plus rider are why I wanted to write this post as they have built in a number of new features that are game (and life) changing. Here are a few of my favorites:

Trust & Will: A totally digital solution for creating legal wills for you and your partner at no charge if you have a Haven Term policy. Again, it can be really simple like a lot of wills or get more specific. It gives your family easy tools to execute your wishes and offers live customer support should you encounter any question along the way. Trust & Will also makes it easy to create a lasting impact with your legacy should you decide to give to any charities in your will.

Emily Henderson Haven Life Insurance 20189

LifeSite: If you are one of those people still storing all of your important documents in a file cabinet (or worse, a pile on your desk…uhh, I’ve DEFINITELY never done that…), then this service is for you. It is an online safety deposit box for storing and managing your family’s important documents should you need them. The last thing you want to be doing in an emergency is sifting through piles of papers trying to track down what you need. This would include your bank account information with passwords, mortgage information, any loans, inheritance info, social security docs, kids birth certificates, etc. But it is not just for emergencies. It can be helpful when you need to share your child’s immunization record with their school in a secure way or you and your partner are putting together all the documents to buy a home. Which, by the way, if you have ever bought a home you know how much paperwork can go into it and how complicated it can all get. It is a secure place to store just about anything and it has a lot of practical, everyday use for busy, modern families.

Here are a few of the things I would upload into ours so that I had it all in one place: copies of birth certificates, our will, our life insurance policy, banking/crediting card statements and logins, pay stubs (and anything needed for a mortgage or a landlord), my kids’ medical records. Basically anything I wish that I had but have no idea where it is when it comes to important items. Now that we have talked about what goes in there, I’m sure our natural first response is WELL CAN’T IT GET HACKED? Don’t worry, it’s encrypted. After you upload your documents it splices the document into hundreds of pieces and then stores them in different locations within their system meaning no one except you can access the combined document digitally. When you need them, you can access them digitally online at any point. Think about going into your child’s school or their doctor’s office for the first time and having every single document you could ever need all in one place…yeah, now you see why this is so appealing. With the service you also get a subscription for up to five collaborators, so should your partner, member of your family or your lawyer need access to all of the documents, you can all access them remotely.

Emily Henderson Haven Life Insurance 201813

You don’t even have to scan it in, just take a photo of it with your phone and upload it.

Discounts at MinuteClinic: MinuteClinic offers a wide range of simple family health services (inside CVS and Target stores) and even better yet, they don’t require an appointment. So you can get in and out quickly if you’ve got a last minute visit that you need to make for you or your little one.

Emily Henderson Haven Life Insurance 201816

If I were to run for president, it would be on a “All women get one day off a month, kid-free, to take care of LIFE” platform. I know that I’m not the only one who has problems executing these kinds of tasks and if I could hire someone to do it, I would. This is why I like Haven Lifeit’s just easier, and more geared towards my real-person life. I suppose they partner with me because they know I’m the perfect person/demographic for their product,  a creative, busy, young working mom who is willing to admit that while I’m good at some stuff, I need help by way of an easy digital process to get the stressful adult life jobs done.

Emily Henderson Haven Life Insurance 20185

I’m constantly impressed by people who have their stuff together and take care of the more annoying parts of being an adult. I know I’m not alone at neglecting this stuff. I know this because literally all of my friends are like me. I think usually there is one person in a marriage/partnership who is more on top of this stuff, but sadly Brian and I are BOTH this way.

So I’m curious, how many of you out there have a will, trust, or life insurance and at what age did you get on top of it? Since it usually coincides with having kids/dependents, how old were your kids when you did it and how did you go about it?

I’m not a bad parent. I’m a decent boss. I’m a great scrapbooker and memory keeper, but I need help being an adult. You?

***Thanks to Haven Life who sponsored this post and allows us to continue to bring original content to you every day. Thank you for supporting the brands that support us.

This article is for your information only. Haven Life doesn’t provide specific tax or legal advice. We encourage you to seek advice from your own tax or legal professionals. If you’re involved in estate planning, you should consult with an estate planning team, including your personal tax and legal counsel. Haven Life is available nationwide but the added benefits of Haven Life Plus are not available currently in Florida, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota and Washington. 

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC17DTC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC.  Our Agency license number in California is 0K71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and not be available in all states.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus Rider which is included as part of the Haven Term policy. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time.

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5 years ago

My first will was at 25 when I bought a house with someone I wasn’t married to (yet). It included a separate declaration of trust to split our different contributions to the purchase price. New will after we married, and new will again after we divorced 8 years later. Hilariously the divorce papers (decree absolute in the UK) takes about three lines to agree the divorce, and the whole rest of the document to explain that you are literally dead to each other when it comes to wills. So, you have to write a new one. My finances are pretty simple and I don’t have kids (probably unlikely now for a number of reasons) so the current will was written with a template I bought at the post office. No life insurance as no one depends on me financially, and anyway I have a death in service benefit from my current job. Pensions and investments I’m rubbish at. I really need to get into an investment fund. I’m also only half joking when I say that my retirement depends on a lottery win! I won’t starve but hate looking at pension and tax stuff as it is sooooo confusing so… Read more »

5 years ago

I’m a professional organizer and one of the services I offer is helping individuals organize, store, and share their vital life and legacy documents! This is a critical issue that more people should be aware of and think about. I’m glad to see you put this out there to get people thinking! Great job! ?

5 years ago
Reply to  Jenny

Hi Jenny, do you just organize material things, or do you also help organize online life… like email, subscriptions, bills and etc? I would love to sit down with someone and have my online life completely organized. It’s so overwhelming to me and I could use some guidance. For example… Having bills coming from different places or accounts to different doctors I have seen over the years all be in one place I can see them.

5 years ago

who is the artist of the beautiful painting behind you in the dining room?

5 years ago

SAME SAME SAME. We have a business (my husband and I), but we can’t seem to take care of “life” stuff. I think you’re so right in that it’s easy to put off things that are depressing and scary, even though putting them off causes so much anxiety!

5 years ago

My ex-BIL died intestate, leaving an enormous mess for my then 9 year old nephew. So we do not mess around when it comes to estate planning. We do not have complicated finances at all, but we wanted our kids’ guardians to have access to the life insurance proceeds. So we have a trust. Without one, our kids would get nothing until they turned 18 at which point they would come into over a million dollars (the vast majority from life insurance.) Our “estate” is not at all complicated, but then my exBIL died with less than $1000 plus a mortgage to his name and it still took years to sort out. We have guardians and back up guardians and back ups to the back ups. We have a living will and have made all of our end of life decisions so our kids don’t have to wonder if they should unplug us or not. All of this probably sounds stressful, but it was very helpful to my six year old when my brother died last year. My son started worrying about what would happen if we died and had decided that he would have to raise his two year… Read more »

5 years ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

My parents raised me under the assumption that they would drop dead at any moment, so as difficult as this must have been for your family, I so relate to your son thinking that he’d have to raise his brother alone in the woods.

Amy E Jones
5 years ago

We didn’t have a will until our daughter was almost three…and my husband is a lawyer! ?

5 years ago

“If I were to run for president, it would be on a “All women get one day off a month, kid-free, to take care of LIFE” platform.”

During my childhood in East Germany all women used to get one day off a month. It was called “Haushaltstag” (household day).

5 years ago
Reply to  piia

No way! Wow. Perhaps we should modernise that and make it one day a month for women, and one day a month for men too.

5 years ago

It’s incredibly helpful, thank you!
relate site and post

5 years ago

I work in the advertising world and pretty immediately I recognized this to be a sponsored post. That said, I KEPT READING. Nicely done for you and for your sponsor!

5 years ago
Reply to  katherine

Agreed, Emily is the best at sponsored content. I love that she makes it clear it is sponsored but still talks about it and shows it in a way that makes it feel real and approachable. Thanks Em.

5 years ago

This is something that I have been putting off for far too long. I think we all need a life babysitter to help us through all of it. Thanks for coaching me into the right direction and the intro to their services. Going to look them up.

Nicole N.
5 years ago

We have Haven and I have loved it. The process was so easy and I am so excited about these new features. Love that you love them as well. Just solidifies my decisions 😉

5 years ago

I appreciate that you directed people to professionals but since many will not consider it money well spent, it would be helpful to mention the importance of a Living Trust that places your assets, esp. your very valuable houses, into the trust (that you fully control), avoids needless and large fees to a probate court and keeps your estate out of court records and private. A will is also needed for the “spillover” assets such as things you did not put into the trust because you aquired them later and never got around to listing them in the trust (money, CD’s, jewelry, stocks etc.). Funds such as your life insurance, inheritances an large gifts from others etc can be directed to be paid to a trust so that children do not have these funds early in life or until you feel they should have control. You can arrange for them to have income but not be able to have it all when they are too young. Tax advice is critical for people with businessses and considerable assets. You talked about your children so it is good to list issues that are part of estate planning including having funds set aside… Read more »

Linda Wang
5 years ago

We had kids. Five years later, we finally completed the process of getting life insurance, establishing a trust, and writing a will. Well. We’re almost done. Still a bunch of piddly details to work through, but at least the bare essentials are in place!

It’s a whole lot of hassle and money to set up things that we hopefully will never use, but….kids. It’s all for them.

5 years ago

My husband and I got life insurance when we were around 32, as we were thinking about buying a home and having kids. We just got a term policy. I’m really glad we did it – it was a weight off our shoulders.

Neither of us has a will (on our adult to-do list – thanks for the reminder Emily!) but I created an advanced healthcare directive when I was 29. I had a medical emergency and, even though I ended up totally ok, it was scary and it reminded me that we’re not guaranteed long lives. The hospital gave me a template when I was discharged and I filled it out, had it notarized, and gave a copy to my doctor. At least it’s something! Now the will though…

5 years ago

Friends of mine got into a terrible accident while traveling during summer holidays. Miraculously their three children survived (9, 5, 3) but the father died on impact at the scene and mom died in the hospital. They had no will and the hick hack about who raises the kids became a nightmare as several siblings on both sides wanted to take them in. In the end the children were placed with their aunt and thrived in her care.
I have a trust and will, picked out guardians for my kid and everything is set up right down to how my ashes should be disposed. When you have children, you have responsibilities beyond your grave.

5 years ago

My husband and I did a will when we were having our first child. We went to a lawyer and got something fairly basic. It just wasn’t that difficult and has given me much peace of mind. He is the main breadwinner so for a long time we only had life insurance on him. Then we realized that if I died, he would spend huge amounts to cover all the things I do now – full time nanny, maid, driver, cook. So we added life insurance for me also. If they had to be without me, at least the financial stress of finding full time help would be mitigated. (Also helped me to see what my contributions are worth!)

5 years ago

There are simple Nolo wills that you can get that are free. Everyone that has children should have wills as well as guardians for their children. Although unpleasant to think that you could get wiped out on the road by a wildebeest when you are driving, it’s better than not having one and testing fate.

5 years ago

There are simple Nolo wills that you can get that are free. Everyone that has children should have wills as well as guardians for their children. Although unpleasant to think that you could get wiped out on the road by a wildebeest when you are driving, it’s better than not having one and testing fate. If you have kids AND assets, you should create an estate plan which includes a living will, end of life instructions, guardianship (if you include it), power of attorneys and specific bequests.

5 years ago

My first husband took the initiative for creating our wills and trusts. As a medical resident, he was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by a MD/MBA. One of the many recommendations was to establish a family trust. We didn’t really think about it too much until 2007, when my sweet, loving, athletic man was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. I was pregnant with our first child at the time and, needless to say, overwhelmed with caring for him in his time of need. It was a relief that everything was logistically sorted in terms of paperwork and money. It gave us time to focus on what was truly important. Since his death, I’ve been adamant about maintaining my paperwork. I even have a living will. My attorney (that created our trust) provided me with a fancy binder for important papers (I’m a sucker for organization). Since there’s still a trust in my late husband’s name, my current husband knows who/where to go to in case anything happens to me. And now, eleven years later, my second husband and I established our own family trust. One thing I noticed that wasn’t mentioned above–when assigning beneficiaries to life insurance policies, you can… Read more »

5 years ago
Reply to  Georgiana

I’m so sorry to hear about your first husband’s illness and death. That must have been an incredibly sad and stressful time for you, especially while you were pregnant and then the mother of a young child. It’s incredible that we’re able to bare the losses that we do. Hugs from Utah.

5 years ago

Can you tell me where your rug is from please? Thank you!!

5 years ago

I would just highly recommend that folks actually follow Haven’s advice at the end of this post: “We encourage you to seek advice from your own tax or legal professionals. If you’re involved in estate planning, you should consult with an estate planning team, including your personal tax and legal counsel.” Over the many years of your “adult” life your personal situation changes (finances, kids, etc.) and your estate plan (wills, trusts, etc.) need to change to reflect that too. Find a local estate and tax attorney that you trust and meet periodically (every 5-10 years or whenever there are serious life changes—disabilities, death, new dependents, purchase of house or other new assets—to review all the documents.) Estate planning attorneys are not just for the rich! Building a relationship with one over time is a really good idea. It bought me peace of mind back when our kids were little to know exactly what would happen to our kids if anything happened to us, and specifically, to know who should be called to walk the survivors through all the steps and details. Decades later when my husband passed it brought me great comfort to know that there was nothing left… Read more »

5 years ago

My boyfriend and I got pregnant while working on our undergrad degrees (at 19). My boss at the time insisted that we get a will in place, and fortunately the university we were at offered legal counsel to students at no cost. The attorney at the school helped us get everything taken care of, at zero cost, and organized the paperwork for us into four binders. We still have two of the binders, and he mailed the other two to our parents, who both were out of state. Those two binders are still with us now, and it still brings me peace of mind when I see them! It was so nice when everything felt like it was falling apart in my life to have one thing taken care of.

Just in case someone is reading this in a similar situation, check with your university! They may be able to offer help, too!

5 years ago

Very useful post. By the way your kitchen chairs could use some upholstery cleaning 😉

5 years ago
Reply to  Alex

Who says this stuff? She has kids. So passive agressive and snarky. Better to worry about your own chairs.

5 years ago

Although I like everything organised and I plan like crazy, I also tend to put things off as long as I can and the stress definitely builds up; I keep asking myself in my head ‘why don’t you just do it right now’ a few too many times haha. Such a great read!

Alexandra |

5 years ago

My grandmother died in May and left my brother and I as 90% beneficiaries in her Trust. As cut and dry and ‘simple’ as her will & trust were, there is STILL massive contention between us and the Trustee of the Estate. I am twenty-five years old and never thought twice about life planning until now.

The simpler your Trust, the more open to interpretation it is. Spell out EVERYTHING so there is no confusion and make sure there is someone who you know will have the best interests of your children in mind to guide them through the process. It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed and alone.

5 years ago

I generally skip sponsored posts and never comment, but wanted to say thanks for introducing me to Haven. We were in the midst of a stressful life insurance search when I saw your last post (ladies, NO company will give you life insurance if you are pregnant/recently postpartum, so it has to be done in advance!!). We applied online with Haven and my husband was immediately approved. I was conditionally approved (rough family health history) and it took a few weeks to be finalized, but my rate was $60-100/mo cheaper than the five other companies we considered. We each have $1mil in a 30 year term policy for about $89/mo, and are in our late 30s. I’ve recommend Haven to many friends since then, and am grateful to have this taken care of.

5 years ago
Reply to  Jackie

Sorry to hear you had such a difficult process. But I got life insurance just weeks before I delivered this past May from Erie in the simplest of processes. My policy is $247 for the year and I have $500K of coverage.

Thanks for the reminder about setting up my will. I really need to.