Don't Be a Jerk. Buy Life Insurance.

If one spouse earns a lot less than the other, you need lots and lots of life insurance.
Don't leave your spouse hanging.

Last week, I wrote about New Jersey's changing divorce law and asked a basic question: Should we structure family law to reward spouses who step back from their careers in order to support the family, or should we discourage it? Andrew Sullivan noted my piece, along with a powerful response from a reader whose husband had died unexpectedly in his mid-50s. "Pensions are reduced for widows and cut further when the pension holder dies before retirement age," she wrote. "Social Security isn't much help for younger widows who earn a disproportionately smaller share of the family income. Even though he had life insurance (I insisted), and we had retirement funds, I am facing a rocky retirement that began earlier than expected after my dead-end job laid me off just after I turned 60."

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