When was the last time you took a serious look at your life insurance coverage? Life insurance was created to provide cash for your family in the event of your death. The goal being to provide your beneficiaries a means to ease the financial burden that results from the death of a parent or spouse. The beneficiaries may choose to use the benefits of a life insurance policy in any way they choose, such as paying for funeral expenses, covering mortgage payments or investing the proceeds and taking systematic payments to augment income. Generally, the death benefit from a life insurance policy is paid free of any federal tax.
One of the most important questions to ask when evaluating life insurance needs is the amount of coverage needed. Many financial planners recommend an amount of five to seven time’s gross annual salary as a guideline when purchasing life insurance, but as with all things in life, each family’s goals are different. It is always best to take an inventory of your family’s current financial situation and then try to evaluate future needs. Listing current and anticipated future expenses, as well as income sources is a good place to start. If there are children, you might want to consider the cost of their education. The younger the children, the more of a need for coverage, due to the length of time they will be dependent on one parent, in the event of a death of a parent. Of course, this is exactly the time when a family may have the least amount of income available for insurance!
This is why there are different types of policies available. The two broad categories of life insurance are:
- Term Life Insurance
- Permanent Life Insurance
Term Life Insurance provides protection for the pure cost of insurance for periods of 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years and is usually significantly less expensive than permanent insurance. The death benefit is only paid if you die during the specific term of the policy. At the end of the term, the policyholder may be able to convert to a permanent policy or begin a new term, at a higher cost.
Permanent Life Insurance provides protection as long as you continue to pay your premiums, which can be fixed or tailored to your specific needs. Permanent policies include Whole Life, Universal Life and Variable Universal Life. These policies have a “cash value” feature, which means part of the premiums go into an account which builds up monetary value over time. This is why the cost of a permanent policy is higher than term. Many times a combination of the two types of policies can provide coverage and savings in stages for a lifetime. Feel free to contact me if you would like to review your insurance needs.