TEXAS, USA — Mother's Day is a day when family comes to show appreciation for the official leader of the family: Mom. Our moms have always been there for us through hard times and the good, unfortunately, mothers are often left with the task of dealing with unexpected deaths in the family.
But who is thinking about mom?
If their spouse didn't have a will, living will or Power of Attorney (POA) in place, or even a plan in place if something happened to them, moms may not have access to accounts or know how to continue.
Moms play a critical role in family planning. If you're even a military spouse, this can be even more difficult. This Mother's Day, 6 News Digital had the chance to talk to USAA's President of Investment Services Company, Mary Stork, who broke down why it's important this Mother's Day to make sure that mom is secure and prepared for anything that could happen.
When it comes to life insurance, it isn't always the first thing on everyone's minds. Nearly a quarter (23%) of U.S. adults don't have life insurance coverage, according to a Feb 2022 survey from Consumer Affairs.
"Life insurance is a policy upon the passing of a loved one that will pay a certain amount of money," Stork said. "There are many different forms of life insurance... what you are paying for is protection over a certain period...there are many different types and terms including permanent. That is the basic definition of life insurance."
Stork says the reason why some people may be uninsured is that it is a very uncomfortable topic for people to talk about. "People are uninsured or underinsured because they don't want to think about what happens if they pass away. I think it's an uncomfortable topic for a lot of people and I think most people think it's not going to happen to them", Stork explained.
A survey conducted by USAA recently found that female respondents, both military-connected and civilian, are less likely to have equal amounts of life insurance as their partner (48%) when compared with males (64%). Stork says this could potentially be due to the fact that life insurance is usually purchased under the primary wage earner. "One of the most common times people buy life insurance is following the birth of a child... there's typically a decision made that one of the partners will stay home," Stork continued, "...and oftentimes that tends to be the women. So families purchase under the primary wage earner and the women tends to stay home.. so the women ends up being the one underinsured or uninsured."
Stork says this could also be because people usually tend to overestimate how much life insurance actually costs for a stay-at-home spouse. Whether it be dad or mom that stays home, Stork explained a lot goes into taking over a household. "My husband is actually a stay-at-home dad," said Stork "... and I have life insurance on him because it's important for me that if something was to happen to him to replace what he does every day. When you think of a stay-at-home parent, think of the cost of a nanny, the cost of transportation, care services, the cost of grocery shopping if you had to hire someone to help with grocery shopping, or lawn care or dry cleaning..... all these things that a stay-at-home spouse takes care of. They really are the CEO of the household."
Stork says her advice for families is to think broader and just replace the income that comes in and think about contributions in broader forms than just pure money. Stork emphasizes to think about what it would take to replace these actions in the form of money and that is when life insurance (majority for women) comes into play.
How do I start the conversation?
Having that talk with your spouse or parent is important. Stork says the best way to start is being open and honest. "I think the best relationships are transparent relationships and being open and honest and just starting the conversation from a place of genuine empathy and 'I want to help take care of you' and 'I want to help take care of dad' or 'our kids' depending on which phase of mom you're talking to. I think starting from that lens will help start the conversation," Stork advised. "...It's not just for the benefits of just those left behind but there's a piece of mind for the person that you're talking to also," she said.
Stork says there are definitely steps that you can take to protect yourself from financial disarray. "Keep a life notebook or a 'sweetheart letter' as an instruction manual. I have one for my husband if I was to pass away that tells him where everything is, our life insurance policy, our retirement assets, you could even put in there ' the kids are allergic to milk' whatever you want. But write down the instructions where things are, who to call...," Stork advised.
USAA has also provided more tips to ensure mom is covered this Mother's Day and beyond:
Tips for Mothers to Help Families be more Financially Prepared
- Talk about financial goals and set a budget. Consider taking your spouse on a ‘financial date’ where you talk openly about your financial planning and begin to formulate a plan and shared goals.
- Collect important papers and passwords. You’ll want to have power of attorney forms, wills and other estate planning documents in a safe place where both you and your partner know they are.
- Have enough life insurance for YOU. Multiple recent surveys show that female spouses typically have less life insurance than their male counterparts.
- Review your insurance coverage on an annual basis. Your life situation might change; make sure your insurance coverage (homeowners, life, auto, umbrella) is able to properly cover you when you need it.