COLUMN: Creating generational wealth through life insurance

Corey Carolina

Many communities deal with generational poverty, generational government assistance, and generation hopelessness. There is a light at the end of the tunnel that we must promote more in America.

The transfer of wealth is the responsibility of parents throughout America, but for the most part, many communities have transferred debt, unpaid bills, and problems. The purchase of life insurance as a form of transferring wealth can be a saving grace for many low-income communities.

As we look at the average funeral costs, which is roughly $10,000, many low- and middle-income families do not have that type of money lying around. It is unfortunate, but we all must die, and it is our personal responsibility to not only cover the cost of burying or cremating ourselves, but to also leave our significant others, children, or other family members money that can better their situations.

Most of us have seen fundraising requests online for funeral costs of a loved one. Some of us have even had to be responsible for raising money to cover costs related to death, and it becomes stressful and disheartening. Not only are family members grieving over their lost loved one, but they are also left with the uncomfortable decisions regarding funeral arrangements and the rising cost associated with giving a proper burial.

I personally had to look at a family member in the eyes to discuss his burial plans as he was dying from cancer. As the tears fell down my face, I fought through the conversation. I was brokenhearted by two things. First, one of my favorite people was dying right in front of me, and he did not prepare for his death financially. The lowest cost was to cremate him, and I knew that was the only way we would be able to afford a funeral, but I could not bring myself to tell my uncle we would burn his body, so I lied. I told him we would burn him, but inside I was crushed. As I spoke with him alone, while other family member sat in the other room, I felt defeated, as I was not at a point in my life to bury my uncle, who had given so much to me over my lifetime. I also felt unsuccessful because I envisioned myself as a young person becoming a millionaire and being able to take care of other family members, and I was not even a "hundredaire" at that point. In my mind, I had let my uncle down, but what I learned from the situation was that my uncle was a victim of the same issue many Americans deal with, and that is leaving his family to pick up the pieces of debt, rather than spreading the wealth.

My family should have had better conversations with my uncle, as we knew his cancer had caused him to have to leave his job, which meant he could no longer afford his life insurance. Our family should have picked up that cost, which would have covered his funeral expenses and left his children money to be used to create generational wealth. Instead, the death of my loved one did not create any additional wealth for his family. This scenario happens to so many people, and it is avoidable. Have an informational conversation with your family. Find out who has life insurance and how much they have. Life insurance is relatively inexpensive, depending on your age and health, but that small investment can create a better life for those left on Earth.

Corey Carolina is an NSU graduate, Tulsa entrepreneur and activist, and owner of Carolina Food Co.

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