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Nearly everyone has a general idea of what the Harry Potter books are about. As a baby, Harry Potter’s parents are killed by a dark wizard and he grows up facing many obstacles and *spoiler alert* eventually defeats said dark wizard.

Although the story would not be as interesting, imagine if Harry Potter’s parents had planned ahead and drafted a will and bought life insurance.

Have Kids? Create a Will

Arguably, the most important aspect of a will is the part where it says what happens to your minor children when you die. Planning who gets your heirloom jewelry is important too, but nothing compares to how essential it is to make a plan for your children. You don’t want strangers deciding who is responsible for caring for them.

James and Lily Potter did not have a will. When they died, no one was sure what to do with little baby Harry.

He ended up going to his closest living relatives—the Dursleys. They were Harry’s next living kin, so they became responsible. They were given a letter of instruction on how to care for Harry, but they promptly ignored it.

Creating a will isn’t too difficult. Generally, a will includes:

  • Your name and place of residence;
  • A description of any assets you wish to give to a specific person;
  • Names of spouse, children, and other beneficiaries, such as charities or friends;
  • Alternative beneficiaries, in the event a beneficiary predeceases you;
  • Establishment of trusts, if desired;
  • Name of a trustee of any trusts created;
  • Name of a personal representative to manage the estate;
  • Cancellation of debts owed to you, if desired;
  • Name of a guardian for minor children;
  • Name of an alternative guardian, in the event your first choice is unable or unwilling;
  • Your signature;
  • Witnesses’ signatures.

In a will, James and Lily would have likely stated that Harry was to live with his godfather Sirius Black. For you fans of the series, you know how life-changing this could have been not only for Harry but for Sirius as well.

Have Kids? Get Life Insurance

James and Lily Potter were very nice people, but they obviously weren’t great financial planners. They did leave a lot of money for Harry, but failed to leave any sort of documentation for it. Harry had no idea his parents left him a small fortune until he turned eleven.

What the Potters should have done was buy life insurance. Because Harry was a minor, they could not have named him beneficiary, but they could have either named Sirius Black beneficiary, since he would have been in charge of Harry according to their will, or created a trust and state that as the beneficiary.

The life insurance death benefit would have been able to provide a happy and healthy lifestyle for Harry. He likely would not have had to live in a cupboard under the stairs all those years, becoming skinny and pale from lack of proper nutrition and living arrangements.

Term life insurance is very customizable and affordable.

» Calculate: Life insurance needs calculator

Let’s say James and Lily planned ahead and purchased life insurance. What would they have had to pay? First, we need to determine how much coverage they would have needed.

How much debt do they want to pay off?

When calculating this, you want to keep in mind any money you owe such as a mortgage, student loans, car loans, or credit card balances.

How much debt?
James Potter
Student loans: $43,000
Mortgage: $250,000
Lily Potter
Student loans: $43,000
Mortgage: $250,000

How much monthly income do they want to provide?

When calculating this, you want to include any income you provide on a monthly basis. Your paycheck is a good starting place.

How much monthly income?
James Potter
Lily Potter

How many years do their loved ones need income?

When calculating this, estimate how many years you think it will take for your loved ones to become financially stable without your income.

How many years of financial protection?
James Potter
10 years
Lily Potter
10 years

What about funeral costs?

Whether you wish to be buried or cremated, it will cost money. A funeral is a sad day. Not needing to worry about how to pay for it can help your family. The average cost of a funeral is $10,000.

What will a funeral cost?
James Potter
Lily Potter

After running these numbers through the Quotacy life insurance needs calculator, it’s determined that both James and Lily should have $750,000 in life insurance coverage each.

Term life insurance is coverage for a set period of time. These term lengths range from 10-40 years.

As for how long the Potters need coverage for, I would recommend a 30-year term. This provides coverage while Harry is growing up and doesn’t expire until once the Potters are nearing retirement.

When Harry was born, James and Lily were both 20 years old. How much do you think it would have cost them to buy these life insurance policies? I’ll run the numbers through Quotacy’s term quote engine.

Term Life Insurance
James Potter
Coverage: $750,000
Term length: 30 years
Estimated monthly premium: $40
Lily Potter
Coverage: $750,000
Term length: 30 years
Estimated monthly premium: $30

These monthly premiums are fixed for their entire 30-year term. I want to note that Lily is slightly cheaper because women statistically live longer than men, so life insurance companies require less payment.

When purchasing these policies, James and Lily could have named each other primary beneficiaries, followed up by naming Sirius Black their contingent beneficiary as custodian of their minor son.

If they had decided to create a trust, they could have chosen to name the trust the primary beneficiary and named each other co-trustees with Sirius being the successor trustee.

See what you’d pay for life insurance

Comparison shop prices on custom coverage amounts from the nation’s top carriers with Quotacy.

How much will term life insurance cost me?

If you’re reading this and thinking I have children and I really should get life insurance, but I’m not as young as these fictional characters. It’s going to be expensive for me. I’m here to reassure you that even if you’re not 20 years old, life insurance can still be quite affordable.

The cost of James Potter’s same exact life insurance policy for a healthy 35-year-old male is an estimated $50 per month and the cost of Lily’s exact policy for a healthy 35-year-old female is $42 per month. The policies only increased a few dollars for this 15-year age difference.

For 40-year-olds? The estimated monthly costs go up to $74 and $58, respectively.

My point is that it is within the budget to get thousands of dollars of life insurance coverage to protect the welfare of your loved ones.

Relating the importance of life insurance to the make-believe story of Harry Potter may seem silly, but, really, it isn’t. Harry’s situation (without the magic) happens in real-life to good families every day, unfortunately. You never know what life may bring. You hope to live a long and healthy life surrounded by your loved ones, but this isn’t always the case.

Parents, what happens if you die unexpectedly, leaving your children behind? Have you prepared for this scenario? Of course, it’s not something you wish for and you’re likely thinking It won’t happen to me. But what if it does?

» Compare: Term life insurance quotes

Note: Life insurance quotes used in this article accurate as of April 29, 2021. These are only estimates and your life insurance costs may be higher or lower.

About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius, CLU

Senior Editor and Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.