Life Insurance For Those You Leave Behind-A True & Tragic Story From One of Our Own

Kelly Mento has worked at Ion Insurance Agency for over five years.  In the last four months she has had three family members pass away.  This is her story: 
On October 4th, 2010 I met my mother at the hospital because she was having trouble breathing. We found out over the next several days that my mom had stage IV lung cancer. It was devastating. My mother had not been to a Dr. in 28 years, since she had my younger sister. She was always healthy.
However, now we were dealing with a terminal cancer. A cancer that would kill her. Over the first few months I asked her about her house, how much did she owe? Whose name was the house in? I prepared power of attorney forms for her to sign. While signing the forms she said “This is ridiculous, I’m fine.” Never once did I think to ask about life insurance. I figured that she had a policy through the Town of Naugatuck (her prior employer), which she early retired from just a few months prior to her diagnosis. And for the next 3 years, she was fine. She had her chemo treatments on a weekly basis. At the end of October 2013 she suddenly started to get very confused and was in much more pain. After a week in the hospital we found out that the cancer had spread to her brain. This was it. She couldn’t speak clearly and when she did, she didn’t make sense.

  • How was I going to ask her about her burial wishes?
  • How was I going to ask about her life insurance now?

It’s too late. On November 24th my mother passed away at 59 years old. To us, this was quick. The cancer spread rapidly in just 3 weeks. She went from walking and driving to being in a hospital bed in 3 short weeks.
I contacted her old job and asked about her life insurance policy. Since she retired the policy was cut to a quarter of what it was. There was not enough to pay for her $16,000 funeral. Where were my 2 sisters and I going to come up with $16,000? My mother didn’t know what a burial cost, it had been years since a member of the family had passed away. The casket alone cost $3,800! The funeral director told us that before we even left his office the cost was approximately $7,000. But now we have to include their time, the drivers, the preparations, the cost of opening the ground at the cemetery and on and on.  We had to borrow money from other family members in order to pay for the cost of my mothers funeral.
Three weeks later, on December 11th, I received a phone call at work from my older sister Shannon, our father just had a heart attack and passed away (also 59 years old). So here we were again with a sudden, quick death. A death that we were not prepared for in any way, especially financially. So again, I called the Town of Naugatuck (also his place of prior employment) and they advised us that my father had been retired years before my mother and his life insurance was half of what hers was. Half! What was $5,000 going to pay for? My sisters and I could not afford another $16,000 bill. I spoke to the funeral home again and they worked it out with us. So here we are, two parents passed away within 3 weeks of each other and we were already thousands of dollars in debt to the funeral home.
My sisters and I had a conversation about the money and life insurance. Here I am, working at an insurance agency and neither of my parents had enough life insurance to cover a funeral. We  talked about our beneficiaries. My younger sister, Carrie, said that she needed to change hers because she thinks her beneficiary was my mom but she wasn’t sure. Most of the time when people take out policies, after a long period of time, they forget who they put as a beneficiary. One month later, on January 18th, I found Carrie in her room, she had died of unknown causes. Carrie was 30 years old.
In 8 weeks, Shannon and I had almost ¾ of our family. I again contacted the Town of Naugatuck, who had yet to file the life insurance claims for either of my parents yet (since we still had paperwork to complete) and asked how much life insurance Carrie had. She had 1x her salary, which was enough to pay for the funeral. Carrie’s funeral cost just over $17,000. We now had to purchase another plot, which cost $1,500. We now need to purchase a headstone, a starting cost of $3,000.
The town filed the claims all at once. I spoke to the life insurance company and tried to figure out a way to process these quickly, we owed the funeral home so much money at this point. Shannon and I had to fill out an endless amount of paperwork to try to get the claims processed since the beneficiaries were people who were now deceased.
My parents, nor my sister, had a will. Shannon and I now have to go through the probate court for each of them. We had a  payment arrangement set up with the funeral home. It has now been almost 2 months since this has all happened and we have just started to begin to get through the financial issues that we have to deal with. My mother did not have enough to cover the remaining balance of her mortgage, let alone her funeral. Now my childhood home will be foreclosed on and my daughter and I will be in search of a new home. Their vehicles will be repossessed by the finance companies.
I cannot stress the importance of Life Insurance. Being a mother, I would NEVER want my child to have to handle all of this financial debt while grieving my loss. I know my mother felt the same, however, no one ever stressed to her the importance of Life Insurance.
I now have:

  • Started preparing a Will
  • Updated my beneficiaries
  • Put Shannon on my bank accounts so she can access all of my accounts if something     were to happen to me.
  • Purchased more Life Insurance

I know that this situation is different, this doesn’t happen to every person. But it happened to me. And it can happen to you. We cannot predict what our future holds, but I now know that I will be sure that my daughter will be taken care of in the event of my death. Some don’t want to approach the subject of life insurance, some people find it morbid. Nobody wants to confront the issue of death. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable and untimed.  The process of obtaining life insurance is not difficult. It takes one phone call, one application to complete.
You can request help determining how much Life Insurance you need and obtain quotes by following this link: /coverage/life-insurance/
Kelly Mento
Account Manager
 Ion Insurance