There’s a lot we can learn from fictional characters, from how to make a ball gown in just a few hours with the help of mice (thanks, Cinderella) to how to perform an appendectomy (well … sort of, courtesy of “Grey’s Anatomy”).
When it comes to money, there’s also a lot we can learn from fiction.
A nationwide survey by LearnVest and The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America found that, among 20- and 30-somethings, 22% would rather sit through a bad movie at a theater than deal with finding life insurance coverage. Though we don’t think the following movies and TV shows are bad, per se, many of the characters they portray don’t seem to have life insurance on their radars, either.
Could everything have turned out differently if Cinderella’s father had had life insurance? Here are 7 fictional characters whose lives would have been a whole lot happier if they'd only had an insurance policy.
Alas, one of the oldest tales of my-stepmother-is-evil-but-if-my-dad-had-life-insurance-maybe-things-would’ve-been-different. If Cinderella’s father had seen the animosity his new wife harbored toward his daughter, he might have set up a trust for Cinderella and designated that trust as the beneficiary of his life insurance policy. That way, instead of leaving his daughter at her stepmother’s mercy, a faithful friend or kind relative could have administered the trust on Cinderella’s behalf, and made sure she wasn’t stuck cleaning chimneys—or relying on a prince to save her.
Julia and Joel Graham from “Parenthood”
Life insurance is important for all parents with kids, and Julia and Joel—the main characters in this NBC drama-comedy, are in a unique situation because they just finalized an adoption. Some adoption agencies actually require potential parents to have life insurance policies before allowing them to adopt, and either way, it’s an important step for the whole family. With the inclusion of a new child to the Graham-Braverman clan, Julia and Joel need to make sure they update any existing policy to include their new son, Victor. (Knowing how responsible Julia is, she’s probably already on it.)
RELATED: 8 Financially Savvy Sitcom Parents
Nancy and Judah Botwin from “Weeds”
If Nancy’s first husband, Judah, had taken out a sizeable life insurance policy to support his two children and stay-at-home wife, this show might have lost its central plotline (to the detriment of Showtime lovers everywhere). In this series, Nancy becomes a marijuana dealer after her husband unexpectedly dies from a heart attack, leaving her with expenses and a lifestyle she wants to maintain for her children. If Judah had taken out a policy sufficient to cover his lifetime income potential and the burden of maintaining their lifestyle, “Weeds” might’ve been about nothing more than Nancy cheering at her son’s soccer game.
RELATED: How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?
You might think someone as wealthy as the king (Snow White’s father) wouldn’t need a life insurance policy because he has enough assets to take care of his family upon his passing (also known as self-insuring). But the royal estate of Nevereverland could have been heavily invested in the stock market, and even Lands Far Away are able to suffer a recession. Relying solely on investments for your living expenses is always risky, especially if you have a family to consider. Remember that life insurance isn't just about having enough to get by—even if your survivors have enough to live on, they may not be able to live in the style to which they’ve become accustomed.
After all, if you grew up in the royal palace, being forced to move to a one-bedroom on the bad side of the enchanted forest could be a tough pill to swallow.
Callie Torres and Arizona Robbins from “Grey’s Anatomy”
As if that epic car crash (and subsequent plane crash) wasn’t enough to remind us of our mortality. Though Callie narrowly survived a car wreck, this makes us wonder: If things had turned out differently, would her wife Arizona and their daughter Sofia have been okay?
Same-sex couples face a lot of hurdles in estate planning. For example, Social Security doesn’t currently recognize same-sex marriages, so even if the couple is legally married in a state that permits it, same-sex partners aren’t eligible for Social Security spousal benefits during retirement.
Until there’s a final ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, same sex-couples need to take extra care to make sure their partners are listed as the primary beneficiary on all their financial accounts—and life insurance is one way for same-sex couples to insure each other and compensate for missing out on certain spousal death benefits. Also note that comprehensive wills are especially important for same-sex couples and families.
(And yes, we recognize that life insurance also would have been good in the case of Sofia's biological father Mark, who passed away after the plane crash mentioned above. But as he could have made his daughter his sole beneficiary, things are less complicated for him.)
Dexter Morgan from “Dexter”
Nearly 70% of single parents living with kids at home don’t have life insurance, according to Fox Business News, but single parents are one population for whom life insurance is a necessity. If something happens to you, there’s no one to make sure your child isn’t uprooted, and he can continue the same general lifestyle as before: being able to go to school, being able to afford caretakers, having enough money so his guardian has enough time and resources to focus on raising him. As a single dad, Dexter Morgan should really have life insurance … especially in light of his high-risk activities as a serial killer. If one of his nemeses gets revenge, who will look after Harrison?
James and the Giant Peach
After poor James’s parents perish at the hands (err, horns) of a rhino escaped from the London zoo, this storybook young boy moves in with his cruel aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Before James finds salvation and companionship in the form of a gigantic peach filled with friendly, magical insects and goes flying through the sky, his aunts are terrible to him. They force James to sleep on bare floorboards in the attic and barely feed him. Yes, his aunts are awful, but it’s also possible they got such a bad rap because they weren’t financially prepared to raise a child … and they didn’t seem to get much assistance from James’s parents’ estate.
If James's parents had taken out a life insurance policy and designated the aunts as beneficiaries, perhaps they could have afforded to raise him better. And maybe, just maybe, if money weren’t such a concern, they might have even been able to focus on being nice.
The information in this article is designed to be general in nature and for educational purposes only. LearnVest and Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents or employees do not give tax or legal advice. You should consult your tax or legal advisor regarding your individual situation.
Image credit: Flickr/jennratonmort