Dave Says: It’s not a good long-term plan

Published 11:50 am Monday, October 2, 2023

Dear Dave,

My girlfriend’s parents are divorced, and they’re both in their early seventies. We talked the other night, and she’s thinking about buying them each life insurance policies. The only coverage her dad has is through his employer. Her mom has remarried, and she doesn’t have any life insurance at all. On top of this, her dad is worried he might have to pay her mom’s funeral expenses if she died, and he’s not in good enough shape financially to do that. Do you have any advice?

— Joshua

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Dear Joshua,

If the only life insurance her dad has is furnished through his employer, then he probably won’t have it anymore once he stops working. I suppose it’s fine if she wants to buy them each a small policy, but it’s liable to be pretty expensive at their age.

Now, she can do this, but I don’t think it would be a good long-term plan. I’d tell your girlfriend she needs to start saving money and building up her own wealth. If she had just $20,000 in savings, that’d be more than enough to bury two people. Please understand, I don’t mean to sound insensitive. We’re talking solely about the economics involved in this kind of situation.

The other thing your girlfriend should do is have a discussion with her mom to find out if the stepfather has the money to handle that kind of thing. When it comes right down to it, any final expenses for her mom would be his responsibility now—not her dad’s. She should have a discussion with her dad about preparing for things, too. But if her dad’s got insurance through work, and the step dad is ready to pay for her mom’s burial, then they’re covered for the immediate future.

In short, I wouldn’t do it unless they absolutely don’t have this sort of thing covered. Even then, I’d prefer she just covered it with cash, because all we’re talking about is enough to cover burial costs. No matter what anyone else says, Joshua, a nice funeral doesn’t have to be crazy expensive.

— Dave