The four Welk sisters are the youngest generation of a family with deep roots in the coal industry. Welk Mining was founded more than 60 years ago by their father, who died 30 years ago after seeing his company become one of the largest coal mining companies in West Virginia. The family matriarch, Alice—lovingly known by her family as Mama—kept up the business brilliantly, increasing profits annually and wisely selling before the popularity of coal began to wane. Mama died over a decade ago but left her children in good stead with a liquid net worth of almost $40 million. The siblings all swore to Mama on her deathbed that they would steward this incredible gift for future generations of the Welk family line.

That promise is being sorely tested today. Upon Mama’s passing, the four sisters each purchased $4 million of life insurance, with an annual premium of $180,000. At the time, it seemed like a good way to maintain the family fortune, but now those premiums are weighing heavily. After years of living a $750,000 per year lifestyle and multiple marriages and divorces (and divorce settlements), each sister finds herself less and less happy about paying such a hefty insurance premium.

Unfortunately, their investments aren’t making matters any better. The financial advice they received was fairly sound, but that was before ...

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