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Life Insurance and the Single Parent

If you are a single parent, you have your hands full. You're also not alone. Across the industrialized world, about 15.9 percent of children live in single-parent households. The United States is at the higher end of the single-parent spectrum, with 25.8 percent of its children living with just a mother or a father. (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, June 1/7/2010)

You have a ton of responsibilities. Perhaps your spouse has died. Perhaps you are divorced. Perhaps your spouse was just never matrimonial material. It's a moot point. You are the primary go-to person, the one shouldering most, if not all, the responsibilities of raising and protecting your family.

You need about a 35-hour day and an extra pair of hands just to keep the household going, the kids fed, the laundry done, the car running, the bills paid. While your friends are off playing on the weekend, you are most likely picking up extra cash at a part-time job. On your day off, you are doing next week's grocery shopping, cleaning the house or trying to find some time to spend with your children.

You do it because they are your children. They can be your sweetest blessing and your biggest frustration. Most of all, they are your greatest responsibility, your most important commitment.

Whether you are a young parent trying to figure out which diapers to buy or a veteran of refereeing sibling squabbles and who-put-the-empty-milk-carton-back-in-the-fridge inquisitions, parenthood can be simultaneously the most rewarding and challenging undertaking of your life.

Our children give us gifts only a parent can understand — from sticky-finger hugs and "Can I come?" pleas to tag along on trips to the store, to the bitter-sweet pain and pride as we watch them prepare for their first dates or our laugh-concealed heartache as they announce that we aren't to talk to them when their friends are around.

We raise them with a goal that we secretly dread will actually take place — that someday, they will be grown, independent, ready to move out into the world on their own... and our work will be over.

As our children travel this long and never-dull road from infancy to adulthood, we nurture them, worry about them, scold them, love them. Most of all, we try to protect them. We want them to grow up in a stable world, one in which they are physically safe and financially secure.

The price isn't cheap. Children are expensive.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2009 report “Expenditures on Children by Families,” the average two-parent household with income of less than $56,670 spent $8,330 to $9,450 per year. For families with incomes of $56,670 to $98,120, that cost rises to a range of $11,650 to $13.530. Costs tend to rise as the children age, and they also vary by region of the country. According to that report, the average middle-income family will most likely spend about $286,000 to raise a child born in 2009 to the age of 17. ( United States Department of Agriculture,"Expenditures of Children by Families, 2009", http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/CRC/crc2009.pdf)

College isn't cheap, either. According to the Department of Education, the average cost of one year in a four-year college now costs $30,393 which includes tuition, room and board, and other expenses.

As a result, your biggest challenge is two-fold: To keep the household going today, and to make sure that, if anything happens to you, your children are still financially protected. As long as you stay healthy and can work, your children's needs will be met. You will see to that. However, what if something happens to you?

That is where life insurance plays a key role for your children. Life insurance is specifically designed to help replace lost income, which means it can provide funds to care for surviving family members. Proceeds can prevent your children from becoming dependent on the charity of family members or strangers for their upbringing. Just as important, it can provide legal guardians with the income to properly support your children and make sure they have all the opportunities you desire for them.

Recommendations for single parents

  • Arrange to review your life insurance needs today... without delay. Contact a New York Life agent for an appointment. There is no cost for the review. Your agent can help determine how much and the best type of coverage for your needs and situation.
  • Talk to the child's other parent about his or her life insurance program, even if they're not paying child support.
  • Pick guardians for your children, and do so with great care. Select individuals who are both capable and willing to assume the tremendous responsibility of raising your children if anything should happen to you. Make sure they understand that this is not a ceremonial honor, but the acceptance of a legal responsibility, one that could involve a significant financial burden.
  • Draft or update your will. Verbal instructions and plans carry no weight in probate court. Your will dictates what happens to your assets after you pass away. A will enables you to determine who will inherit your property, who will act as your children's guardian, and who will execute your affairs after your death.
    Note: Please keep in mind that neither New York Life nor its agents are in the business of offering tax or legal advice. You should consult with your professional advisors to examine tax or legal aspects of any topic presented.

    At your death, your written will can become, literally, your voice from the grave. It will provide directions about how your estate should be managed and distributed. However, if you die intestate (without a will), everything involving your estate and your children will be decided by a probate judge... without regard to your wishes or what you know to be in the best interests of your children.

When it comes to protecting the financial security of your children, you never do know what can happen tomorrow. If you have children dependent on you, then it is your responsibility to make certain they will be financially secure should you pass away.

The first step is adequate life insurance. Set the plans in motion today to help ensure your children's financial security. New York Life can help.

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Life Insurance and the Single Parent

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