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What All Parents Need But Too Few Have

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When my husband and I go out for dinner, and I know we will be barreling down a Los Angeles freeway surrounded by speeding and distracted drivers, I sometimes look at him and say, "Who did we will the kids to again?"

Other times, when my husband is about to take off mountain biking, I will look at him and say, "What do I do again if you don't come back?"

Talking about death might seem dramatic. But for parents, it's as important as regular date nights.

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Be honest: do you have life insurance? Does your spouse? The fact is, you both should, even if one of you doesn't bring in a regular income. Without one or both salaries, without a stay-at-home parent's contribution to childcare, there will be sudden new expenses along with the same old ones. Life insurance will cover that. Life insurance can help you cover debts or other financial obligations your loved one might have left behind.

It's best to get life insurance now before you get any older, because, as you get older, it costs more to get life insurance.

Don't just guess at how much life insurance you need. Talk to a financial advisor. Don't skimp on paying for life insurance—one day you might really need it.

There's also the terrifying but necessary question of who to leave your kids with. This is a hard choice for many. It often entails the decision to ask a friend, if you have no family in the same city or choose a relative that lives in another state. We have changed our minds on this decision many times. It's a horrible thought but it can happen.

When I was growing up, I knew a family that it happened to. Both parents died within a few years of each other, and the kids all ended up living with close friends of the family.

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We parents need to make it clear where the kids will go. They need to be sure everyone is protected financially. That's why every parent should have a will. Without a will there is no guarantee that, when you die, your money or kids will go where you wanted them to.

Next time you have date night, you might need to talk about these issues if you haven't already. Alcohol will be available so that perhaps you can chuckle over the absurdity of life and ultimately death.

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