What Happens To My Children If I Die?

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Death Valley (Photo credit: Frank Kehren)

My father’s mother died when I was around three years-old or so. Forty years later I don’t have more than a handful of memories and I am not entirely sure how accurate those are.

But I remember lots of things that happened in between the time that grandma died and grandpa got remarried. One of those memories includes a time where I wondered who would take care of my daddy if his mommy was dead. Kind of funny to think about it now, because as a father it is not even a question to me.

Dads take care of our children, but when you are five and dad works to some extent your focus naturally goes to mom.

Anyway, when my wife was pregnant with our son I went through the usual gamut of thoughts, feelings and ideas. I wondered if I would be as good a father as my own. I worried about how long it would take me to save up for a house and wondered if my child (we didn’t know the sex of the baby) would be a boy or a girl.

I wondered what kind of person would they be and tried to figure out what kind of father I would be. I wasn’t afraid of being a parent. I spent years working with children as a camp counselor, youth advisor and a teacher.

Fast forward a year and some months and my world has changed dramatically. I have a beautiful son and a house. It is September 11, 2001 and I am watching the towers fall.  My sister, BIL and nephew live in the city. My BIL is a doc at St. Vincents. I hear reports that they have taken some of the survivors there.

Little Jack is playing with his blocks. He builds towers and knocks them down. My sister confirms that her family is fine but that only takes some of the edge off of me. I keep looking at the little boy who is oblivious to the chaos on the television set and I think about what I have to do to protect him.

Jack The Blogger

It is May of 2004 and I am playing around with a new hobby called blogging.  They tell me it is sort of like an online journal. I start writing but I am not really sure if it is something that I am going to keep up.  Writing is something that I used to do, it is not how I pay the bills. Some time passes and I stumble through some awful posts and then a question my son asks changes things.

I write a post called  Death- My Son Asked Me Not to Die and I realize that this blogging thing might be worth taking more seriously. As more time passes I use my corner of cyberspace to record my thoughts about life. I ask hard questions like If You Died, Who Would Take Care Of Your Children and I spend more than a few minutes thinking about the answers.

At some point in time I start referring to myself as a dad blogger who knows a few things about social media. My posts aren’t solely focused on children and parenting. Sometimes I write about other things like Stupid Blog Tricks- The Difference Between The Best & Most Popular.

But at its core this place is still where I ask hard questions. Every now and then I revisit them.

What Happens To My Children If I Die?

When 9/11 hit I took a hard look at my finances and insurance. More specifically I made a point to explore my life insurance options. I already had a basic plan through my employer that provided a minimal amount of coverage. But after watching what happened that day I decided that my family needed better protection so I took care of dramatically increasing my coverage so that if something happened it wouldn’t be an issue.

These kids call me dad. It is my job to look out for them. If something happens I need to know that my children will be taken care of. How about you? Have you made arrangements? Do you have a will?

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. However the stories contained within are all my own.

  • http://billdorman.me Bill Dorman

    That’s right, you can never have too much insurance……..:). Truthfully, you are more likely to be disabled than die and this is where most are under-insured.

    I too knew I was going to be a good daddy; I embraced it 100% and fortunately had a job that allowed me to be involved in everything.

    The fact I was the bread winner did make me more conservative on some business opportunities that presented themselves along the way. But in hindsight, everything turned out just like it was supposed to.

    Good post; next time link me to the insurance and I will pay you…it might have to be beer, but I’ll take care of ya……:)

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hey brother,

      I would have mentioned you directly but I got paid for writing this post so….

      Anyhoo, I know what you mean about being more conservative because I definitely made similar decisions.

      The rug rats make you think twice.

  • http://hajrakvetches.com Hajra

    I don’t have kids. But yes, I like being all planned for things you really can’t control.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      I would have guessed that you would prefer to plan for it than not.

  • http://absenceofalternatives.com Absence of alternatives

    This is a tough subject for parents to think about. I tear up when i think of it what to do to prepare for my kids. We’ve got life insurance set up. But the toughest one is to choose the guardians for the will…

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      The guardians are very tough. Trying to figure out who is best suited to raise your kids is highly unpleasant.

  • http://doesanyonecarewhatiwrite.blogspot.com Gina

    This is a very well written post.

    It’s a hard concept to wrap your mind around when you are feeling the picture of health and your kids are some. We put a will together many moons ago when we were traveling out of the country without the kids. It was just basic.

    Four years ago, we did a full blown thing, Living Trust, to protect everything we have worked to hard earn. Also, this provided a safety net for our kids in that if something ever happened to us, they would live comfortably. Weird, huh?

    Great post.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      It does feel a bit uncomfortable and awkward but the need is significant and the security it provides can be critical.

      We can’t replace a mom or dad but we can do something so just in case the worst happens…

  • http://www.aha-now.com/ Harleena Singh

    Love the topic Jack!

    I guess I can relate to it, being a parent myself and often having thought likewise for my kids!

    I liked the way you traveled all through the time when you were three to the present :)

    We all do love and care for our kids, though I really wonder how many of us make arrangements for them with the thought that what would happen to them after we are gone. We should- but I doubt people really like to think that far.

    Talking of which, we were rather late ourselves to get the insurance done for our kids and leaving aside a will for them, trying to secure their future in the best possible ways. This happened when we underwent a family accident a few months back that was close to death. So, that was a learning lesson or a wake up call to action :)

    Just like they say, sometimes it takes somethings to really make you aware :)

    Thanks for sharing. :)

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Harleena,

      It really is a hard conversation for many different reasons. I have some friends who have been unable to make arrangements because they and their spouses just can’t sit down to talk about it.

      But it really is important, even more so if the children are really young.

      Family accidents sometimes serve as a good wakeup call, albeit challenging.

  • http://theviewfromhere.ca Ralph

    Jack, very heart felt and responsible. My wife and i just went through getting a will done. Is that the right way to say it? Gosh, until now i have been so irresponsible and childish never considering what happens if. Life after 40 man!

    We don’t have children but we do have each other and we do have neices and nephews who we love as our own as well. It’s so important that our families, no matter their make up, are taken care of.

    Thanks for this sobering reminder and i ma glad you are such a responsible guy. Thanks Jack!

    • http://theviewfromhere.ca Ralph

      Oh yeah. I hear the Dorman guy sells that stuff! Insurance (not the right kind just thought I would give him a poke)…;-)

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Ralph,

      Children sometimes force us to look at the harder and more uncomfortable aspects of life.

      Not so long ago a distant cousin died. She left a multimillion dollar house in the Hollywood Hills, a lot of jewelry and a hefty chunk of change.

      She didn’t have any kids and the will named three relatives and a bunch of charities.

      The three relatives all died before her, but she never changed her will so it didn’t matter.

      I understand some people are fighting over the cash, but I can’t tell you the details ‘cuz I am not interested in fighting over it.

      Would be nice if they were grownups but money does funny things to people.

  • http://weforgotyounot.wordpress.com Betsy Cross

    We have no arrangements made. A life insurance app. and the related medical checks gave my husband his diagnosis which made it impossible to cover him. Me? I’m not covered either. This is something tht drives our relatives crazy because it appears irresponsible. Maybe it is. But we do what we can and learn as we go. I can research and write about death, but when it hits too close to home I have a tendency to believe that my little family won’t be touched. Crazy! What a thought to be left with today. Thanks. Really. Probably one of those meant-to-be’s!

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Betsy,

      I am not one of those guys who will rant and rave about not having life insurance but I do know that for some families not having it can create all sorts of financial problems.

      My personal situation is such that my children would be protected for a long while. It would cover a number of years of expenses but it is not like they could retire.

      My goal was to make sure that they would be protected for an extended period of time that would hopefully provide enough time to take care of things and ensure that everyone was on their feet.