Category Archives: Family

Make Sure You Check Your Life Insurance Policy When Getting a Divorce

Marriage is for better or for worse, in sickness and in health so long as we both shall live except, when it’s not.  Everyone goes into a marriage with the intention of it being forever but people can change.  Unfortunately sometimes it just doesn’t work out.  In all of the confusion of divorce proceedings and major life changes minor things that can be overlooked in the present can have major consequences in the future.  One of those small oversights can concern your life insurance policies.

Let’s look at the case of my in-laws as an example.  They were married in 1976, raised 2 girls, house, white picket fence, dog, the whole enchilada.  By 2000 they had drifted apart and were embroiled in very contentious divorce proceedings.  Since he was a very successful businessman they were many assets that needed to be divided between the 2 of them.   Unfortunately 10 years later my mother-in-law passed away suddenly and tragically.  She was very thorough with her financials and the type of person to plan ahead and my wife and sister-in-law stood to inherit a good amount of money.  The problem?  My mother-in-law never changed the beneficiary on one of her policies from her ex-husband.  Now, this story has a happy ending since my father-in-law is a stand-up guy and wasn’t hard pressed for money.  We ended up telling him he was listed as the beneficiary and without even being asked he immediately offered to sign the check over to the estate once he received it.

We were lucky in that situation, there was no animosity and no major financial issues.  But money, especially large amounts, can make people do funny things.  What if my mother-in-law had remarried or if we weren’t on speaking terms with my father-in-law?  That could have easily turned into an even messier situation than the original divorce.  There are several high-profile examples of how a simple oversight can cause major headaches.  Take the U.S. Supreme Court case of Hillman v. Maretta in which Warren Hillman passed away and in his will left everything to his wife including a life insurance policy valued at $124,500.  But, Warren neglected to change the beneficiary from his ex-wife of 10 years.  After several years of legal proceedings going all the way to the Supreme Court it was ruled that ex-wife Judy Maretta was entitled to the entire $124,500.

It’s important to make sure you know where your money may go after you’re gone.  So, if you find yourself in this position make sure you update your beneficiaries so your assets go where you want them to.

5 Budget Tips For Family Trips

If you’re avoiding planning a vacation because you can’t afford it, think again. With the right destination and the right vacation plan, your family can have a memorable experience without blowing your budget. Here are 4 vacation budgeting secrets to use for your next vacation.

Choose the Best Destination for Your Budget

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Image via Flickr by flickr-rickr

Expensive cities like New York and San Francisco will quickly deplete your budget. Consider some of America’s equally appealing, but less expensive destinations like Austin, Savannah, Charlotte, and Nashville. Also look into cheaper alternatives to staying in hotels, like renting an apartment or camping.

You can also save a bundle by planning to visit during a city’s off-season. Not only will there be less tourists, but many hotels, amusement parks, and restaurants offer big discounts outside of their peak months.

Choose the Cheapest Transportation

It’s no secret that flying is expensive, especially for an entire family. Consider other modes of transportation which can get you there for a cheaper price.

Trains may take longer to get you to your destination, but they will save you a lot of money if you’re not really in a hurry. Road trips have long been a favorite budget-friendly vacation, but soaring gas prices have changed this in recent years. A fuel-efficient rental car may be a cheaper option for a road trip if your car is a gas guzzler.

If flying is necessary, consider waiting until the last minute to book your flight. Prices are often cheapest about 21 days before the departure date. Most airlines also announce sales on Tuesdays, which is rumored to be the best day to lock in low airfare prices.

Find New Income Sources

If your travel fund is near zero, look for ways to make money that will go toward your vacation. Hold a yard sale to make some extra cash, and clean out your house in the process. You can also sell your unwanted items virtually through Craigslist or eBay.

Taking on an extra part-time job can also help you save towards a vacation. Temp or seasonal work are good options since they don’t require a long-term commitment. Working for a travel company often comes with the perk of big discounts on trip packages, so you might want to look into vacation-related work.

Don’t Buy Meaningless Souvenirs

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Image via Flickr by DaveFayram

If you’re going to buy souvenirs, you might as well buy things that are practical versus decorative items. A T-shirt will actually be worn, but a snow globe will only collect dust. Also consider free destination-specific keepsakes, like matchbooks, maps, and brochures.

More importantly, focus on spending your money on experiences rather than material items. And of course, the best — and cheapest — souvenirs of all are photos!

Planning a vacation should never be a hassle. With proper planning and financial management, you will reach your goals with ease. Doing research on the places you want to go, taking cheap transportation, starting a travel fund, and minimizing purchases during your trip will ensure your next vacation doesn’t break the bank.

Helping a Sick Parent

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As we age, so do our parents. However, as we hit exciting milestones like getting married, moving into larger homes and starting a family, the milestones ahead for them are much different as they enter their twilight years. Sooner or later, their health may start to decline. A common conversation that shared by many couples is how to handle the weakening state of older parents. Before you take the leap and settle on a decision, it is important to know your options.

1)      A medical alert button – this is ideal for older adults who are physically waning but still retain their mental faculties and thirst for independence. If the individual suffers an injury that prevents them from getting to a phone, all they have to do is push a button to receive assistance. The biggest obstacle to its effectiveness is if your parent or in-law is too stubborn to wear the device, or suffers dementia and will forget about the button’s purpose. This is, by far, the cheapest living assistance aid at your disposal, as companies like Fall Alert offer medical alert systems with no installation fees and affordable monthly payments.

2)     Visiting Nurse – A more hands-on approach for those seniors who still want to live at home is to obtain a visiting nurse. The Visiting Nurse Health System offer a variety of services that will help your aging loved one perform potentially difficult tasks and receive medical attention without having to leave the comfort of home. While it can be much more expensive than a simple medical device, Medicare often reimburses family for this provision if the patient is on Hospice.

3)     Senior Living Retirement Communities are ideal for those parents who may be more lonely or depressed than physically ill. They provide companionship and access to activities that will get individuals out of their slump and interacting with others. Of course, if you’re parent is mentally or bodily slipping, almost all facilities have varying levels of assistance on the premises to make your parent or in-law as safe as possible. The price can be much steeper than the previously mentioned options, and is influenced by the level of luxury of the grounds, as well as the level of necessary attention given.

4)     Nursing Homes – though this phrase makes some shutter, the 24-hour a day service it provides is invaluable. Such an option is available for both short-and-long term care, and many strive to provide a welcoming environment to their patrons. Because of the intensity and consistency of the medical care provided, this will be the most expensive selection on the list.

Many individuals consider taking their parents into their own homes in such scenarios. While there is no clear right-and-wrong for this, examine your finances, lifestyle and the amount of space available. Additionally, inquire with a medical professional about the amount of medical involvement your loved one needs – while a visiting nurse may help lighten the load of administering shots, it is unrealistic to expect that you can be by his/her side around the clock. So do the research, consult with your partner and parent, and you’ll undoubtedly find the right answer!

Image Credit SalFalko