Last week, I had the awesome opportunity to share my message on the importance of women building wealth at Dr. Deedee Freeman's God's Glamorous Girls Conference. It was so exciting to stand before thousands of women and teach this message I'm so passionate about. You may be wondering why I care so much. I'd like to share two reasons: death and divorce.
In almost 20 years of being a pastor, I've heard too many stories of women who were left with nothing after death or divorce. While we may not all experience a divorce, death is a given. If we live we will die. If the breadwinner dies first without adequate insurance and assets, the wife often ends up in poverty.
Far too often husbands die with no life insurance in place to replace his income. The lack of life insurance leaves the women who spent years at home raising a family scrambling to cover funeral expenses, pay off debt, keep their family home and find a job that will replace their husband's income with no financial support. The worst part is when they didn't know there wasn't insurance until they needed it. A lot of those same people who didn't have insurance took vacations, wore designer clothes while carrying designer purses and there is nothing wrong with that until they realize that those clothes and purses aren't assets they can use to feed their families. However, it's too late then. You can't get life insurance on your spouse after they are dead. As a result, many women have lost their homes, had to move in with family members and ended up living in poverty. The truth is that in almost every case I've seen, this outcome come have been avoided with prior proper planning.
If your husband dies first, do you have enough
life insurance to continue life as normal?
The second reason is divorce. Divorce is one of the fastest ways for a middle class women to end up in poverty. I know that we hate to talk about divorce in the church. We want every marriage to make it. However, we know that every marriage doesn't make it. If a marriage doesn't make it, the wives shouldn't end up in poverty because of it. But it happens a lot. It happens way too often. I have lost count of the times I've seen a woman lose it all because she didn't have any income coming in, she didn't know exactly how much her husband made or what assets they had and when they divorced she got the kids but not the support to sustain them.
My challenge to you is not to fall into either of these groups. Have the hard conversations. Here are some questions to guide you:
Does your husband have life insurance?
Is it enough to allow you to maintain your lifestyle at least for 5 years (I say 5 years because in that time you could go back to school and get retrained for a new career if you needed to).
Are you the beneficiary? This is especially important if he's been married before. Sometimes people put insurance in place and forget to update the beneficiary.
Where are all the documents located? Review them annually.
Where are the assets? Is your name on the stocks, bonds, investments too?
Where are ALL of the bank accounts? Are you on all of your husband's accounts?
Talk to an estate planning attorney to make sure all of your family's affair are in order!
"Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poverty"
Even a good husband can leave you in a bad situation if business isn't handled properly. It's your job to make sure that it is. As Jewel Tankard says, "Don't let marriage turn your brain off." You are intelligent and capable of learning and implementing what's needed for you to be okay after death or divorce. Get your affairs in order because you are worth it!