It’s uncommon for grown men to get together and share emotional insight and first-hand experiences. So buckle up and grab a tear cloth while you listen to Jeff, Scott, and Mike’s stories about caring for those with special needs.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST WHILE YOU READ THE CLIFF NOTES BELOW.
NOTE: As you read the article, you can also listen to the podcast above. The podcast is packed full of emotion and valuable suggestions for staying accountable, being responsible, and living your life without regrets.
Jeff Jones, Scott Zweifel, and Michael Lucy are licensed life and annuity agents (brokers) who have lived special lives—special to the extent that they have cared for immediate family members with special needs.
Jeff and his wife Brenda raised their daughter Selah until she passed in Jeff's arms at the age of 6. Prior to birth, Selah was diagnosed with down syndrome. Jeff, known throughout the metro Detroit community as Mr. Blue Skies, shares how he and his wife made it through the storm and found clarity.
Scott and his wife Kellee have two daughters, Grace and Joselyn, who were diagnosed at birth with DiGeorge syndrome, or 22Q Deletion. Scott's daughters recently graduated from high school.
Michael's sister, Karen, was diagnosed with down syndrome at birth. A brother/sister relationship is far different than a parent/child relationship, so Michael sheds light on this dynamic. Karen is currently 50 years old, which is rare for someone with down syndrome.
Living through the tragedy of losing a daughter taught Jeff many things, including:
When tragedy occurs, you WILL need some time away from off work.
You never understand tragedy until it happens.
3 words to prepare for tragedy: accountability, preparedness, and regrets
Scott makes an interesting point in the podcast: talking about life insurance, in the context of losing a loved one, is very challenging. He recommends that families reach out to a trusted professional—someone without an emotional stake in the situation—for good objective advice.
Considering life insurance for children and caregivers isn’t pleasant. It's difficult to think about and even harder to talk about. Having a child or family member with special needs only intensifies these thoughts and feelings.
Even so, it’s an important conversation to have. When your family’s future is secure, it’s easier to be present.
We would like to thank Scott and Jeff for taking the time to talk about their experiences. Hopefully with their stories can help people understand, think about, and talk about accountability and preparation—all while minimizing regrets we may have later in life;
"Because somebody is going to pay for something, someday. Be Reasonable, Be Responsible." ~Jeff Jones
1:50 (Mike) - "I have lived my whole life with an older sister that has down syndrome"
2:20 (Mike) - "It's difficult to think about something happening to her, but it's even more difficult to talk about"
3:20 (Scott) - "DiGeorge syndrome is the 2nd most frequently"
4:00 (Scott) - "My daughter was born with a hole in her heart"
5:00 (Scott) - "My daughter had three heart surgeries"
6:00 (Scott) - "My daughters have been fine, they are a little behind but they have matured nicely"
7:15 (Jeff) - "My daughter had an extra 21st chromosome, Trisome or Down Syndrome"
7:50 (Jeff) - "You have to be accountable, when you find out something's wrong with your child don't look to blame something"
9:15 (Jeff) - "Unfortunately, my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at age 4"
9:40 (Jeff) - "Due to complications of leukemia, my daughter died in my arms"
10:00 (Jeff) - "One night I was rocking Selah to sleep ... I asked God that I just wanted my daughter to say I love you"
12:00 (Jeff) - "I think we abuse the term special needs like there is something wrong with them (people with special needs)"
13:00 (Jeff) - Jeff says "I am honored to be a parent of a special needs child"
13:30 (Mike) - Down Syndrome is a Community - Jeff & wife Brenda treat Mike's sister Karen with extra attention
16:30 (Scott) - Scott's daughter just finished high school and shares his feelings of pride
20:15 (Mike) - "Congratulations on getting licensed for life and annuity in business"
21:00 (Mike) - Jeff mentioned to Mike years ago that it's hard to explain how life changes when you lose a child, especially a child with special needs
22:00 (Jeff) - "When my daughter was diagnosed with downs, I realized I had to make some life changes"
22:15 (Jeff) - "Then when she was diagnosed with leukemia ... I knew that my daughter's needs were more important than my needs."
23:00 (Jeff) - "Using the tools of insurance allowed me to take time away from work to care for my daughter and family."
24:15 (Jeff) - "... It never goes away, I think about it every day."
25:20 (Jeff) - "Now 5 years after my daughter passed, I finally feel like I can get back to work."
26:30 (Jeff) - "I was able to get through those times not with my bank reserves, but with my life insurance reserves."
27:45 (Scott) - "I never thought about life insurance for my daughters, I never thought about it like that. I guess I always thought I would just power through it."
30:20 (Jeff) - "During a time of tragedy ... money does not solve your problems but it will help you get over some humps."
31:15 (Jeff) - "I did not move any of my daughter's clothes for two years."
32:10 (Jeff) - "When you have a yard sale, you pull out all the toys, the books, the clothes. You have people trying to barter your down from a $52 dress to 25 cents. That transition it all comes alive again, it doesn't just go away cause a funeral is over and you have thrown a couple of flowers."
33:10 (Jeff) - "They call me Mr. Blue Skies."
33:45 (Scott) - "People can go back to work on Monday if someone passes on Friday, but insurance gives you options."
35:00 (Jeff) - Caregiver conversation, "If something happens to the caregiver, the spouse, you then suddenly you are taking on both roles ... i recommend people have a trust, and have life insurance in that trust."
36:45 (Mike) - "It's a common understanding in the industry that the breadwinner should insure 10 times their annual income. Some professionals in the industry recommend a caregiver be insured for 5 times the breadwinners' annual salary?"
38:30 (Scott) - "That all depends on the age of the kids. You can't quantify what a spouse (caregiver) does. If the children are infants, that number should be greater than 10."
40:30 (Scott) - "You need someone to consult with that is not emotionally attached and can provide objective advice."
41:00 (Jeff) - Jeff shares an analogy to a doctor when you withhold information from a doctor that can lead to tragedy. Likewise, without a trusted financial professional, withholding information can lead to disaster.
42:45 (Mike) - "Does it ever make sense to insure the life of a caregiver?"
43:45 (Jeff) - "You can cover the cost of the caregiver for 6 months, 12 months whatever time you feel you need to find a new caregiver."
44:30 (Scott) - "Absolutely it is required, you need to have a little buffer time."
46:45 (Jeff) - "Accountability, preparation, and regret ... Someone is going to pay for something someday. What is reasonable and what is responsible?"
Scott Zweifel - Scott is a licensed life annuity and health insurance agent and broker, based in Loveland, Colorado. Scott is licensed to do business in Colorado and Michigan, with more states coming soon. He contracted with 20+ carriers, which helps him match client needs with the right carrier. Scott specializes in whole life, term life, and medicare insurance. You can reach Scott at email email@example.com, call or text him at 970.658.0047.
Jeff Jones - Jeff is a licensed life and annuity agent and broker in Michigan. He specializes in annuities, IUL's (indexed universal life), and financial planning. Jeff is contracted with multiple carriers and has 20+ years of experience. Jeff can be reached at 734.934.4406.
Michael Lucy - Michael is a licensed life/annuity agent and broker in Michigan. Mike is contracted with 25+ carriers, and provides expert analysis to match every individual client to the right carrier. Mike specializes in whole life, term life and IUL's (indexed universal life). You can email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach him by phone or text at 734.288.8323.