Life insurance is a simple answer to a very difficult question: How will my family manage financially when I die? It’s a subject no one really wants to think about. But if someone depends on you financially, its one you cannot avoid.
There are many types of life insurance, but for all them the bottom line is the same: They pay cash to your family after you die, allowing loved ones to remain financially secure. Life insurance payments can be used to cover daily living expenses, mortgage payments, outstanding loans, college tuition and other essential expenses. And, importantly, the death –benefit proceeds of a life insurance policy are almost never subject to income tax.
If you have worked hard to establish a solid financial framework for your family – investments , home equity, a saving plan ,retirement accounts – life insurance is the foundation upon which it all rests. It can guard against the need for your loved ones to make drastic changes to future plans when you die. Certain types of insurance even have a built-in-cash- accumulation feature that can help you reach savings goals.
If no one depends on you financially, your path to financial security may be smoother than most. However, it also means that if the unforeseen were to happen, you may not have someone to rely on for support—financial or otherwise. That’s why there are certain considerations to take into account.
Protect What You Have
Most single people don’t need life insurance because no one depends on them financially, but there are exceptions. If you provide financial support for aging parents or siblings, or have substantial debt you wouldn’t want to pass on to surviving family members if you were to die prematurely, you may want to consider it.
If You’re Just Starting Out
Putting off the basics when you’re just starting out like reducing debt, starting a savings program and planning for retirement only makes things more difficult down the road. The sooner you start, the better off you are.
You’ll want to create an emergency fund equal to three to six months worth of basic living expenses. When you consider all the demands on your monthly budget, the thought of setting aside money for long-term savings probably seems daunting. Fortunately, time is on your side. Through the power of compounding interest you can gain through compounding interest.
When you’re starting a family you face perhaps the most daunting financial pressures you’ll encounter at any stage of life. Expenses like a new home and young children weigh heavily, and you’re likely still early in your career, far from your peak earning potential. Meanwhile, you need to begin saving for the future: college for the kids, a nest egg for you and your spouse. How can you address all of these obligations at once?
The key is to imagine you’re at the beginning of a long-term building process. Financial security is a combination of insurance protection, and savings and investments that accumulate over time. Start small and cover all your bases. As your career progresses and your income increases, your financial security will grow as well.
The first step in establishing your financial security is to confront the biggest threats to it by asking yourself some tough questions: What would happen if you or your spouse or partner became sick, injured or died? All of these situations can be devastating to your family’s financial health. That’s where insurance comes in.
Life insurance can provide your family members the resources to maintain their lifestyle when you die. It can replace some or all of your income, pay off debts, cover funeral costs and can even help fund longer-range needs like college tuition or retirement. Insure your spouse or partner as well, even if he or she doesn’t work outside the home. A stay-at-home parent provides vital household services—childcare, house upkeep and transportation to name a few—that would be expensive to replace.
You may be juggling kids at home or college, plus the demands of your job. Now that you’ve been in the workforce for quite a while, you don’t have as much time as you once did to recover from unexpected setbacks. You need to take additional steps to protect what you have.
At this point, the years ahead will most likely to be the most productive and highest earning of your life. However, like many families, you may be using a significant amount of your savings to put your kids through college just when it’s time to be aggressive in saving for retirement.
What would happen if you died suddenly? Would you children have to drop out of school? Would your spouse or partner be forced to drastically cut back on the family’s lifestyle? And what about retirement plans? Life insurance proceeds can allow them to pay off the mortgage, continue to pay for college, and if invested wisely, provide a stream of income to your spouse or partner for the future.
When the kids are out of the house and retirement is either on the horizon or has arrived, many people think about downsizing. Whether or not that’s true for you, it’s important to recognize that when you retire your accumulated wealth is probably at its peak. Retirement these days can last decades, and age brings on many potential threats to your financial health. There are several steps you can take to ensure your money lasts as long as you do.