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By Planning Ahead, My Family Was Protected When We Needed It Most

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LIFE INSURANCE
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It was with deep sadness that I read the story about Seema Minhas-Randhawa, the Calgary-area widow who suddenly lost her husband last month. My heart goes out to her and her young daughter for I can feel her pain and their sense of loss.

I too was suddenly widowed at a young age, when my 39-year-old husband was killed in an accident and I was left with a 12-year-old daughter. While no two losses are the same, the end result is: someone you love is gone. I trust time will heal the pain for them but may it never dim the wonderful memories.

Having been in the financial services industry I have seen firsthand how important life insurance is when a tragedy of losing one's spouse occurs. Thankfully, in our particular situation, we had conducted our annual review with our life insurance adviser a year before he died, made sure our life insurance coverage was still adequate and updated our wills with our lawyer.

I realize that many people have a difficult time talking about some of these issues, but talk about it we must.

My personal experiences led me to write a book about our journey and today I speak internationally helping and educating others on the importance of pre-planning.

Here are some of the tips I offer:

• Make sure you build a solid, trusting relationship with your life insurance advisor.
• Make sure you conduct a thorough annual review of your life insurance coverage with your life insurance advisor.
• Be sure to confirm that your current coverage is still adequate to meet your needs today.
• Make sure you have all of the correct and current beneficiary designations on your life insurance contracts, RRSP's, group insurance, etc.
• Have an up to date will in place, preferably drawn up by a lawyer.
• Make sure you have an executor in place and you have asked them to take on the responsibility.
• Make sure you have a legal guardian appointed for your underage children and you have asked them to take on the responsibility.
• Make sure you read the fine print in documents you are signing such as mortgages, leases, property and casualty insurance, credit cards, etc.
• Make sure both of your names are on the household utility bills.
• Make sure you organize and record all of your important documents in one central place.
• If something does not seem right, do not hesitate to ask questions or to reach out for help.
• If something does happen, be kind to yourself.

Bringing all of the various professionals to the table when you have the time, opportunity and capacity to think and plan is essential to coping with, surviving and coming out the other side after a loss. Finding out after someone is dead that there is not enough life insurance or none at all to replace a desperately needed income or there is not a properly drafted will in place to protect you and your family from unwanted demands upon the estate is not the right time!

I realize that many people have a difficult time talking about some of these issues, but talk about it we must. Life insurance is a protective safety net you put in place for your loved ones and in our case it was instrumental in giving us time to deal and heal through our loss.

We have an obligation to ourselves and to those we love to make sure that we leave this world in an organized manner.

To this day, I know that if I had been forced to try to pick myself up off the floor financially as well as emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually I would not be standing here today upright and as whole of a person as I am. The fact that my husband left me in control gave me time to somewhat heal, with a much needed safety net, time to grieve and get back on my feet to be able to start functioning again and establish a new sense of normal for both of us.

Do not get me wrong folks; you never forget, but it is a lot easier to deal with things when you are not trying to keep the wolves at bay because you do not have the money to pay the bills. During that stressful time, I often thought back to the financial plans we had put in place and offered up a silent thank you to my husband.

We have an obligation to ourselves and to those we love to make sure that we leave this world in an organized manner.

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