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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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?
But you want to know what is even more stressful than the process of getting life insurance or a will?
NOT HAVING THOSE THINGS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Life—it’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.
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.