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It never will happen to me

There's an old adage -- "The only things certain in life are death and taxes." With a substantial part of our population not paying taxes, we pretty much can throw out half of this quote.

However, the other half of the adage, "death," is something every one of us will experience. When someone passes away, you often hear the loved ones saying, "It was a blessing" or "It was his/her time." Unfortunately, many other deaths are sudden and untimely.

In today's world, where drivers are frequently distracted (talking or texting on a cell phone, for instance), life could be gone in an instant. How many times have you read in your local paper, "Driver veers off the road, over-corrects and overturns their vehicle?" Two drivers recently slammed into the backs of semis. (It would be hard to miss a semi unless you didn't have your eyes on the road). Each one of us has experienced this kind of tragedy or near-tragedy, or knows someone who has. And this is only one of many threats to our lives.

So the question becomes, if death is inevitable, and we don't know when, why aren't our families being protected? Why are so many people passing away and leaving their loved ones with substantial financial issues? This problem can be solved in several different ways. We can win the lottery, expect a large inheritance or use a simple strategy called life insurance. Most people never think any kind of tragedy can happen to them, it's always going to happen to someone else. The simple truth is it can happen to anyone; it's not always going to be the other guy.

There continues to be an ongoing debate on which kind of life insurance is better -- term or permanent insurance. If term is implemented, it normally is cheaper than permanent insurance, in the beginning, and the idea is to invest the difference of term and a permanent contract so when the term of the policy runs out (e.g. 10, 20 or 30 years), your investments take the place of owning life insurance. (This does not address any of the tax issues that should be an important part of each individual's decision). It is important a discipline be put in place to invest the difference and keep it invested, if you choose this philosophy. Because if you "buy term and spend the rest," not only will the life insurance term run out, but there might be no assets (e.g. IRAs 401(k), mutual funds) to take care of your loved ones.

Permanent insurance has a level premium throughout your life, and normally has some sort of cash accumulation within the contract. This can allow premiums to cease at some point, or it can purchase additional life insurance coverage within the same contract. So an analogy to the different life policies would be the difference between renting and buying your home -- one does not build equity, and the other one does. To avoid the big debate between the two, it is safe to say the best kind of life insurance to own is the kind that is in place when you die.

Although accidents are going to happen, other ways to avoid a premature death would be to simply take better care of ourselves.

For the sake of your own loved ones, it would be good to realize death not only could, but will happen to all of us. How much are you worth to your loved ones, should you leave this world tomorrow?

Tim Schumacher represents Strategic Financial Partners in Hays.

tschumacher@htk.com