Getting the Most out of Life
>>How One Terminal Client Maximized His Insurance While Still Alive
The story of Greg Couture and how he used his life insurance is not merely about a product; it is about how one person took control of his situation and used his positive outlook and creative abilities to make the most of his life and his insurance.
Greg and I grew up in Burlington, Vt. As an adult, he lived in Hawaii and traveled throughout Europe, but eventually returned to Vermont and became a real estate agent. He then married and had two daughters.
In 1998, Greg visited my office to purchase life insurance for himself and his wife. Because his income in real estate varied and he wanted to use his surplus income to invest in rental properties, he opted for a term life insurance plan. Unfortunately, Greg divorced seven years later. Despite the financial impact of that event, Greg recognized the significance that life insurance would have for his daughters and he kept the policy active.
His forward thinking proved to be a valuable decision. In 2008, Greg was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was given six months to live unless he underwent aggressive chemotherapy, which only promised slim odds of living another year.
He wasn’t concerned about dying as much as he wanted to make the most of the life he had left andmake every moment count with his daughters and friends.
Greg called me to find out whether banks would let him borrow against the eventual death benefit. He wasn’t concerned about dying as much as he wanted to make the most of the life he had left and make every moment count with his daughters and friends. Many policies today have a feature called an accelerated death benefit rider for those who are terminally ill and need money. This rider wasn’t available at the time Greg purchased his policy. My assistant contacted the insurance company and, through her persistence, eventually convinced them to add the rider retroactively. After some research, we learned the insurance company would pay a “discounted” amount depending on Greg’s medical records prior to his death. He discussed the tax consequences with his accountant and decided to proceed. He wanted to make the most of his limited time.
The insurance company paid Greg 86 percent of the policy’s death benefit, which alleviated a lot of his financial stress. The death benefit wasn’t as much as Greg needed to fulfill all of his dreams while alive and provide for his daughters after he was gone, so he worked to find a balance between the two.
Greg bought a foreclosed property in Florida to use as a special place to bring his daughters and serve as an investment for them to sell later, when the housing market rebounds. He also renovated his duplex, providing his ex-wife and their girls a maintenance-free home and rental income to pay expenses for the next decade.
He also hired a videographer to record messages to be delivered to his daughters at important life events, such as toasts at their weddings. Greg figured out a way to be a part of the girls’ futures, both financially and emotionally.
Greg died Sept. 17, 2010, at the age of 48, almost three years after his diagnosis. As another client of mine who knew Greg said, “Greg lived with his life insurance and made his dreams come true.
Daniel M. Boardman, CLU, CFP,is a 17-year MDRT member with 10 Court of the Table honors. He serves asa principal with the firm Hickok and Boardman Retirement Solutions inBurlington, Vt., overseeing Corporate Retirement Plans and Individual Insurance Operations. He can be reached at Daniel.Boardman@ innfeedback.com.