Keeping a Farm in the Family

Keeping a Farm in the Family

As a third-generation dairy farmer, Paul Krzewina’s priority was keeping his 585-acre farm in the family. But doing that meant modernizing, and Paul needed to take out a mortgage to build new barns and buy additional cows. He was concerned, though, that the mortgage would be a burden to his wife, Michele, and their four young children if something were to happen to him. Donald Blahnik, LUTCF, their insurance professional, shared that concern and helped Paul buy a term life insurance policy, the only coverage he felt he could afford at the time.

Years later, with his children nearing adulthood and retirement within sight, Donald suggested that Paul consider converting the term policy to a whole life policy. Paul still needed to protect the next generation, and he liked the idea of accumulating cash values to supplement his retirement savings.

When Paul was diagnosed with a brain tumor three years later, the life insurance proved invaluable. He was able to use a loan against his policy’s cash values to pay his health insurance deductible.* In addition, Paul didn’t have to worry about keeping his policy in force because of a provision that waived his premiums in the event of a disability.

Paul died a couple years after his diagnosis, but his dreams for his family are very much alive today. His eldest son, Chad, 28, now runs the farm, and used part of the death benefit to add new barns. He plans to expand the operation to 500 cows, from the current 200. “We couldn’t have done any of these things without the insurance money,” Michele says.

*Withdrawing or borrowing funds from your policy will reduce its cash value and death benefit if not repaid, and may result in a tax liability if the policy terminates before the death of the insured.

Giving a Family What It Needed

Giving a Family What It Needed

Don Wachtel loved fixing and refurbishing things, so it’s no surprise that he built a thriving tile business, channeling that passion into clients’ homes.

When insurance professional Chris Manfredi met Don, he recognized a kindred spirit. They were both in their 30s, raising families and working hard to grow their businesses. That’s why he made it a priority to help Don get a term life insurance policy, although they hoped he’d never have to use it.

Unfortunately, about a decade after he bought his coverage, Don began to have severe headaches and forgetting things. After several months, doctors finally diagnosed the problem: an inoperable brain tumor.

As the disease progressed, Don was unable to continue working. That’s when the policy’s waiver of premium rider kicked in, so he no longer had to pay the policy’s premium. This is also when Chris discussed the policy’s accelerated death benefit with the Wachtels. Because Don was not expected to survive his cancer diagnosis, the Wachtels were able access up to 50 percent of the death benefit while Don was still alive.

That money allowed the family to take memorable vacations and pay for some day-to-day living expenses. In addition, his wife, Tonia, was able to take a leave of absence from her job so she could care for Don at home. It was there that Don died at age 47, just 19 months after being diagnosed.

The remaining death benefit helped Tonia pay for the funeral and to stay at home with her two daughters for several months as they grieved. And it continues to make a financial impact. “Without life insurance, I would have had to go back to work immediately, get a second job, and we surely would have lost our home,” says Tonia.

When the Unthinkable Happens

When the Unthinkable Happens

John Ogonowski grew up on a farm and never wanted to give up that life, even as he pursued a distinguished military and civilian flying career. While a young pilot for American Airlines, John began buying land in his hometown, and eventually developed a second career as a hay farmer. John’s wife, Peg, was a flight attendant at American, and they knew her salary would not be enough to support their three young daughters and keep their farm going if something were to happen to John. So John bought life insurance to supplement the coverage provided by the airline.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the unthinkable happened. Terrorists hijacked American Flight 11, commanded by Capt. Ogonowski, and flew it into the World Trade Center. In an instant, Peg found herself at the center of the worst terror attack in the nation’s history, her grief compounded by concerns about how she would manage without John. A few days later, the Ogonowskis’ insurance professional, Richard Bourgault, CLTC, LUTCF, came by to offer condolences. The oldest daughter, Laura, then 16, approached him apprehensively and asked whether they would have to move out of their home. No, he said firmly. “That made all the difference in the world,” he recalls.

With the insurance proceeds, Peg was able to pay off the mortgage on her home, retire all of the debt on the farm and set aside college money for her girls. Today the 150-acre family farm is still in business, operated by John’s brother, Jim. Peg recently retired after a 30-year career with American. “I can’t begin to tell you how huge it was to have had the insurance and to know that we were completely covered,” she says.

His Guardian Angel

His Guardian Angel

When John Butcher needed a liver transplant, his wife, Kara, was always by his side. In addition to caring for him, Kara worked at the Amarillo Country Club, which kept the family afloat.

About a year after the transplant, life was looking up again. John made a full recovery and was back at work. Kara still worked at the country club and 6-year-old Tre was pursuing his interest in acting.

One evening as she was preparing dinner, Kara, 37, collapsed in the kitchen due to an undiagnosed heart condition called cardiac tamponade. She died almost instantly. John’s friends and family immediately swarmed him with support. He needed it. “The day after Kara died, I went to dress Tre, but realized I had no idea where any of his clothes were,” he recalls. “Kara took care of all of that.”

Among the condolence calls John received was one from Helen Rodriguez-Burton, his insurance professional. A year earlier, Helen had met Kara at a workshop she conducted for employees of the country club. Watching her husband battle his liver disease made Kara worry about what would happen to her family if she died suddenly. So she purchased a term life insurance policy from Helen.

“Kara’s life insurance was an absolute gift from God,” John says. “If we didn’t have it, Tre and I would be in much worse shape now.” John has become more comfortable in his role as a single parent. Tre, too, is adjusting. He went on to have a role in a production of “The Music Man” at their local theatre and was recently cast in a commercial.

“Kara gave birth to our wonderful son, she nurtured me through my illness,” John says. “She was my guardian angel.”

Insurance Preserves a Family’s Way of Life

Insurance Preserves a Family’s Way of Life

Bill Hobson had always been active. He met his wife, Connie, at a softball game when she went to watch a friend play, but ended up watching Bill instead.

Years later when Bill developed a weakness in his right hand, he and Connie thought it was a judo injury. It wasn’t, and his doctors delivered the devastating diagnosis: Lou Gehrig’s disease. Bill continued to work for several more years as a product demonstration specialist at a telecommunications company, but eventually had to retire.

The last year and a half of Bill’s life was especially difficult, as he lost much of his muscle function. Ultimately, he had difficulty breathing and could not feed himself. The Hobson family rallied. The couple’s daughters, Carleigh, Paige and Cari, took turns caring for him between classes and work; Connie did the same during her lunch hour at a dentist’s office. Bill finally succumbed to the illness.

But Bill’s illness and death didn’t devastate the family financially, thanks to insurance planning. Short- and long-term disability insurance benefits through his company helped the family make ends meet when Bill could no longer work. Through a group life insurance program, his company provided one times his annual salary in life insurance benefits, and Bill bought supplemental coverage to increase the benefit to three times his salary. He also had an individual life insurance policy that he purchased on his own.

Insurance professional Jim Loken, ChFC, helped Connie turn the death benefits from Bill’s various policies, and his pension and 401(k), into an income stream. It has helped Connie remain in the family home, and take an occasional vacation with the girls.

“The goal was to live a similar lifestyle to what we were living when Bill was working,” Connie says. “Not fancy, but comfortable.”

Pin It on Pinterest