Richard Baker took care of himself. He and his wife, Dee, both worked out regularly — and had even run some marathons. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and only had a rare drink on special occasions.
In his mid-50s, Richard felt and looked healthy right up until the moment when doctors discovered a cancerous football-sized tumor that had stealthily grown on his kidney.
“I am a biology professor, so I don’t sugarcoat things,” Dee said. “The minute I heard the diagnosis, I knew he was a dead man walking.”
Amid the crushing news was one silver lining. The Bakers were well prepared for the unexpected with life insurance from Erie Family Life.
Planning Ahead for Peace of Mind
In 2014, the Bakers had worked with their ERIE Agent, Joe Miller, to make sure they had enough life insurance coverage to provide financial security for the surviving spouse and their two young daughters.
“Richard was more than a customer, he was a good friend,” Joe said. “It was extremely humbling to play a part in putting together a plan for this man to take care of his family in his absence. Unfortunately, I can’t replace the great dad, the husband, the son. But we were able to take away a lot of the potential financial hardship for those he left behind.”
The Bakers were motivated to get life insurance, in part, by the fact that each had lost their fathers at a young age.
“I was 7 when my dad died and my girls were 7 and 9 when Richard died, so I have been on both sides of this,” Dee said. “We were both very pragmatic when it came to life insurance. So many people operate in a vacuum assuming bad things won’t happen to them. We knew they could.”
A Secure Financial Future
Of course, knowing what could happen didn’t make experiencing it any easier. Richard received the diagnosis in May 2018. While he underwent treatments to provide him some more time, he passed away on Thanksgiving Day 2020. He was at home, Dee at his side.
“Even when you have things in order, the first year after your spouse passes away is an absolute nightmare,” Dee says. “You are so distraught and mentally and emotionally tapped out from being a caregiver to someone with a terminal illness. I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been if I also had to worry about a financial struggle.”
The Bakers had been wise with their money, focusing on living debt free and making investments. That discipline, along with the life insurance money, has put Dee in a position of knowing she and her daughters have a secure financial future.
The life insurance money for the girls was put into a trust that they can access at age 30. Dee is able to make withdrawals to cover expenses such as braces and, eventually, college tuition.
She received the payout from the policy almost immediately after Richard’s death with minimal paperwork and no waiting and wondering when the money would be distributed.
Don’t Put Off The Conversation
While sharing her story is painful, Dee takes every opportunity to urge friends, family and colleagues to take action now to make sure they have adequate life insurance coverage.
“A lot of people don’t want to have those conversations. They don’t want to deal with their own mortality,” Dee said. “I get that, it’s not a pleasant conversation, but it is one you need to have.
“My message to people is make sure you have your ducks in a row and your back porch clean. I know people in similar situations who have no life insurance and it’s a real struggle. Becoming a single parent is hard enough without having to worry about if you have enough money to make it and provide for your family.”
Ready to make a plan for your family? Learn more about different types of life insurance or talk to a local ERIE agent to get a free, no-obligation quote.