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Life At See Level


Flight of the sea bird, scattered like lost words

Have you ever taken an early morning stroll down by the ocean? You know, as the sun is rising and you have nothing that you need to do because it is Monday of a vacation week. Your mind is permitted to be clear, and clear it is, like your view to the horizon. There is something particularly satisfying about looking out on the vastness of the ocean and having no interference, no obstructions, no noise. A point in time where complexity falls away for a moment and life becomes crystal clear, simple and well defined.

Come wash the nighttime clean. Come grow the scorched ground green

Ironically, the same can happen in a flash when your life gets turned on its head. This happened to our family this past May when my 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer. In an instant, life as we had always known it changed. In the blink of an eye, the noise (and most of it is noise), melted away. The noisy din gave way to a laser focus, a singular mission. Life redefined. Life at sea level, life at see level.

Within days of recognition of a problem, we had our team and plan in place: our family, our closest friends and the professionals at Wills Eye Hospital, led by Dr. Carol Shields. As human beings, we have a natural tendency to over complicate our day-to-day lives. With the simplest few words, Dr. Shields redefined our lives yet again, “This cancer is 100% curable.”

How simple, how beautifully simple. Simple does not mean easy, simple has a process, too. After four rounds of chemotherapy, and numerous other evaluations under anesthesia (EUAs), Megan is cancer-free. Dr. Shields and her team are doing amazing work! The year Megan was born, the treatment for a tumor of her size was to remove the eye.

Fare thee well now. Let your life proceed by its own design

As financial planners, our role is to plan for the unexpected. It is our daily work to help our clients envision and plan for their futures. It is our most rewarding work when we can prepare and protect those future dreams. Life‘s twists and turns are not prejudice. They do not differentiate or discriminate. There is a simple step that families who want to plan can take. Some call it “jinxy”, others call it morbid, but for myself and others on the front lines of financial planning it is just good common sense or juvenile life insurance.

I have advised in the high net worth marketplace for the better part of two decades. I have seen countless situations where prospects and clients with significant financial resources have been unable to secure life insurance for their children for a wide variety of reasons. This is unfortunate. In recent years, the sale of juvenile policies has grown in popularity. A permanent life insurance policy on a child or grandchild can serve as a beautiful gift and powerful planning tool. Beyond the tax free cash value build up and other financial benefits within in a whole life policy, lies a less well known, but critically important benefit, that of protecting your child’s insurability. As parents we would do anything to protect our children. Sit for a moment in the waiting room at Wills Eye Hospital or CHOP and you will see parents from around the world going to the greatest lengths to get the best possible care for their children. It’s what we do. It has always been my intention to fund policies for my children. Megan’s diagnosis has only hastened and fortified my will to do so. Megan’s older brothers will be in underwriting soon. Megan will be in underwriting as soon as the guidelines will permit.

Let the words be yours, I’m done with mine

Life is much simpler at see level. The immeasurable impact of family, friends and faith have carried our family through this storm. If you have not ever considered a juvenile policy, I urge you to do so. Simply put, it’s about protecting your child’s insurability. Do you see what I mean?

Songwriters: John Barlow / Robert Weir

Cassidy lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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