Are you taking care of your sister’s child? One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a representative in the financial services business occurred in 2008 when I had an aunt and niece as a client.
The niece, I’ll call her Pam, was 18 years old and about to start college. She had decided to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York for the upcoming fall school semester. She chose FIT because she eventually wants to become a fashion designer.
The aunt, and I’ll call her Susan, brought Pam to the bank because Pam needed a checking account with a debit card. With the card, Susan wanted to make sure that Pam had an account to take care of living expenses while in school.
So we went through the process of setting up the account. Susan didn’t want to be on the account because she wanted Pam to start being more responsible with money as she got older. Now in most cases this story is just another boring bank story about a young adult opening a checking account.
The touching part of the story came out when I had a deeper conversation with Susan. Turns out the source of the money came from another account that was set up for the benefit of Pam. You see Pam’s mother and Susan’s sister, passed away fifteen years prior to our meeting and Susan had raised Pam ever since. It also turns out that Pam’s mother had taken out life insurance on herself when Pam was a child. Life insurance that totaled around $600,000.
Susan had been taking care of Pam and the money ever since for the last 15 years. And here we were setting up an account Pam would use for college and beyond. It made her realize that she was starting to hand over responsibility to Pam. Susan started to get very emotional about the entire process. I didn’t ask but I’m sure she played over lifelong memories in her mind.
As any parent will tell you, it’s usually an emotional process sending your child off to college. But to raise the child of a sibling and then send her off to college is something entirely different.
The best part about this story and the part that makes me love my industry comes in the fact that Pam’s mother took the time to set up something to take care of her daughter. Unfortunately, more and more parents aren’t making financial plans to care for their children if they are no longer there. Hopefully they’ll learn from Susan and her sister.
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