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It Does Happen

Planning ahead makes all the difference for a family and a business.

By Jon Dressner

Ed Nemore and Jill Mortensen met in medical school in Iowa. They shared a dream of a life together and starting a family practice that would serve low-income individuals.

After they graduated, married and finished their residencies in family medicine, Ed and Jill opened their own practice in 1985 in rural southern New Jersey. Although the practice grew slowly, Ed and Jill were thrilled to be doing what they had set out to accomplish—to care for people who otherwise wouldn’t have easy access to good medical care. They were busy building a family, too. Their son, Eric, was born in 1987, and they adopted their daughter, Sarah, four years later.

Eventually the practice took off, and Ed and Jill knew they needed to protect it and their growing family. They already had some disability income (DI) insurance and life insurance, but it wasn’t until the early ’90s when M. Jay Einstein, CLU, of Einstein and Associates in Vineland, N.J., called on them that they began to realize the need for greater protection.

A lot to cover
Jay, a New York Life agent, former NAIFA trustee and past president of New Jersey AIFA, had little difficulty convincing them that their existing DI insurance would not keep the family or the business afloat for long if Ed or Jill became disabled.

Jay helped them buy additional DI coverage and persuaded them to buy business overhead insurance as well. He also helped them increase their life insurance coverage significantly. With two children to raise, the dream home they’d built on a 22-acre lot on the banks of the Maurice River, and a business that was expanding rapidly, Ed and Jill knew that their $100,000 universal life policies wouldn’t go far if something were to happen to either of them.

Persistence pays off
Jay also persuaded Ed and Jill to see a lawyer to update their wills and establish irrevocable life insurance trusts to help reduce their federal estate-tax and state inheritance-tax liability. “Jay was persistent,” says Jill, who, along with Ed, procrastinated for several years before seeing a lawyer.

To this day, Jill claims to not entirely understand how the trusts work, but she’s glad Jay was insistent that they complete the process. Jay is glad he never gave up on his clients, because in early 2002, he got the kind of call that every agent dreads.

It was Ed. He was calling from the hospital where he frequently made rounds. Only this time he was the patient. Ed didn’t feel like his usual self and noticed that his skin had begun to look yellowish and sickly. An MRI revealed what appeared to be a shadow near his bile duct. Ed soon learned that it was an aggressive form of cancer, and he would need surgery right away. He made it through the surgery without complications, but learned that the cancer had metastasized and his prognosis was poor.

“This can’t be happening”
Ed and Jill had the same reaction. “We take care of sick people, but we’re never sick. This can’t be happening,” they thought to themselves. But there was no escaping reality. Ed stopped working and fell into a deep depression. The illness took an enormous toll on the entire family. Fortunately, the business was doing well and benefit payments had begun from Ed’s DI and business overhead policies. Jill was able to spend time at home caring for Ed.

In August of 2002, Ed felt surprisingly good and decided to return to work. His return didn’t last, however. After a few weeks he began to feel worse. He stopped working and asked Jay to have the insurance company start paying DI benefits again. A few months later, Ed died.

Though Jill’s life is changed forever, and not a day goes by that she doesn’t think of Ed, money is one thing that doesn’t preoccupy her. Ed and Jill had always been very diligent in saving for retirement, so that’s not a concern. The business continues to generate a very comfortable income for Jill, and the proceeds from Ed’s life insurance policy have further bolstered Jill’s sense of financial security.

Moving forward
Jill and the kids still live in their dream house on the river. Section 529 plans are set up for the children’s college education, and Jill plans to use a lot of what remains to become more active in charitable giving.

Asked to reflect on all that has happened to the family over the past few years, Jay summed it up this way: “It brings you to the reality of what we do. It’s very hard to handle emotionally. But it was very satisfying to be able to reassure Ed that his family would be financially secure. It was very comforting to him and enhanced his quality of life, knowing that plans were in place to provide for his family.”

Jon Dressner is vice president of the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education. For more information on LIFE’s realLIFEstories program or to obtain a realLIFEstories application, visit or call 202-464-5000.

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