Many of us buy life insurance, because we want to make sure our loved ones remain financially secure after we die. For those interested in estate planning, cash accumulation, wealth transfer and estate tax liquidity, life insurance can be a tool to achieve those goals as well. There are many choices when it comes to life insurance. Policies are now available from more than 2,000 life insurance companies in the United States, as well as from banks and other financial institutions.
Assessing Your Life Insurance Needs
The Illinois Department of Insurance says there are some basic things to consider, when you are buying life insurance:
- Before purchasing a life insurance policy, you should consider your financial situation and the standard of living you want to maintain for your dependents or survivors. For example, who will be responsible for your funeral costs and final medical bills? Would your family have to relocate? Will there be adequate funds for future or ongoing expenses such as daycare, mortgage payments, or college?
- You should reevaluate your life insurance policies annually or whenever you experience a major life event such as marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, or purchase of a major item such as a house or business.
The Illinois Department of Insurance points out the reasons you might buy life insurance will vary, depending on your age, financial situation and other factors. Listed below are some examples:
- Single person with no dependents: Funeral expenses; medical bills; debts, such as credit cards or student loans; elderly parents who may be dependent upon you for support. Note: Buying life insurance at a young age is cheaper. As you get older or possibly incur a serious health condition, it will be more expensive or difficult to buy a policy.
- Single person with dependents: Funeral expenses; medical bills; outstanding debts; caretaker expenses for your surviving dependents; education costs for surviving children.
- Couple with no children: Funeral expenses; medical bills; outstanding debts, especially mortgage or car payments.
- Couple with children: Funeral expenses; medical bills; outstanding debts, especially mortgage payments; child-rearing expenses; education costs. Note: Even if one partner does not work outside the home, you may want to consider life insurance to help pay for childcare or other services performed by that partner.
- Older couple: Funeral expenses; medical bills; impact on spendable income; outstanding debts, such as a new home, second vacation home, or recreational vehicle; impact on assets you may want to leave for children or grandchildren.
What Are My Options?
The two main forms of life insurance available are “term” and “permanent.” Simply put, term life insurance provides death benefit protection for a specified period of time (for instance, you might buy a 10-year term policy). Generally speaking, if you’re looking for coverage for a short period of time, term life makes sense. If you are interested in using the policy as a form of savings, consider a permanent life insurance policy. Regardless of the type of life insurance you buy, most policies require you to meet certain medical criteria.