Some people equate life insurance with tragedy and death. In truth, life insurance is for the living. Without it, the sudden demise of a key breadwinner could leave a family stranded without the resources to maintain their lifestyle—or even retain their home.
Not so long ago, professionals recommended that families carry a life insurance policy with a death benefit of 10 times their annual household income. Today, however, in light of rising house prices in many parts of the country, spiraling college costs and low interest rates most advisors now recommend up to 20 times your household income.
Unfortunately, most American families are underinsured. The gap between what households have and what they need is nearly $320,000, according to LIMRA’s study Closing the Life Insurance Gap, 2015.
If you’d like to get a working idea of how much life insurance you may need (or how much more you may need), you can use our quick Life Insurance Needs Calculator.
A Cornerstone of Your Financial Plan
Life insurance is a cornerstone of your financial plan, for these reasons.
1. It provides income replacement. For most people, their most valuable economic asset is their ability to earn a living. If you have dependents, then you need to consider what would happen to them if they could no longer rely on your income. A life insurance policy can also help supplement retirement income, which can be especially useful if the benefits of your surviving spouse or domestic partner will be reduced after your death.
2. It covers outstanding debts and long-term obligations. Without life insurance, your loved ones must shoulder burial costs, credit card debts, and medical expenses not covered by health insurance using out-of-pocket funds. The policy’s death benefit might also be used to pay off a mortgage, supplement retirement savings, or fund college tuition.
3. It can be used for estate planning. The proceeds of a life insurance policy can be earmarked to pay estate taxes so that your heirs will not have to liquidate other assets to do so.
4. You can use it to support a charity of your choice. If you have a favorite charity, you can designate some or all of the proceeds from your life insurance to go to this organization.