Life Insurance: Protection and More

  • Life insurance helps preserve the income your family depends on.
  • If you died prematurely, your family may not be able to sustain their lifestyle without your income.
  • Life insurance is also used for creating a source of supplemental retirement income, business planning, and legacy planning.

It could happen to your family

We often plan vacations or family outings with great care. But, do most people take the same care to plan for the loss of a spouse? It’s a difficult topic for anyone to consider. Too often, we realize our own vulnerabilities after seeing friends and neighbors suffer tragic loss in their own families.

If something were to happen to you or your spouse, think about the financial impact. Chances are, whether the loss is sudden or the result of a long illness, your family’s ability to meet the goals you had for them would be affected.

You can help protect your family against life’s uncertainties by being properly insured. Life insurance was created to provide for those who would be financially hurt by the death of the insured.

The use of life insurance has been expanded to include more sophisticated financial strategies. But its original intent as a way to provide needed resources in a family's time of need remains intact.

There is no hard and fast rule for how much you need. Your coverage needs are as unique as your family.

How much life insurance do you need?

This is one of the most common questions. There’s no hard and fast rule for how much you need. Since every family is unique, each person should determine what they would want for their families should they no longer be here. Children? Mortgage? College? Taking the time to plan can help ensure your financial life is protected.

When considering how much you need, it may be helpful to hear how other families fared after such a loss. In a 2015 survey of 1,000 surviving spouses, MetLife found only about half of families felt they had completely or somewhat recovered financially up to seven years after losing a spouse.1

Look at expenses

Many families have existing assets and/or other sources of income. You’ll want to consider immediate expenses, income replacement, and the other available assets your family could tap.

infographic - image of college, house, and car, text below asks Will your life insurance pay these off?

Your family’s immediate expenses would include their housing or mortgage payment and household expenses, as well as funeral expenses. Tally up the monthly payments for any outstanding liabilities, such as credit cards, car loans, and education loans.

Your Financial Advisor can help you evaluate the potential total financial impact on your family. This is a starting point for your discussion and planning life insurance needs.

Changing needs can change the formula

As changes take place in your family and your family’s finances, your life insurance needs may change, too. The birth of your children and grandchildren, advances in your career leading to salary increases, running a successful business – these types of changes may alter the equation.

Revisit your life insurance periodically – including beneficiary designations – as changes occur in your family and marital status. It’s a good idea to review it once a year.

Life insurance as a financial tool

Life insurance is often used as a financial tool valued for more than just its death benefit. Insurance can be used to help you achieve your goals while you are still alive and well.

Insurance can be used to help you achieve your goals while you are still alive and well.

  • Create a source of supplemental retirement income
  • Provide a source of funds to pay for an extended care need
  • Make a charitable or planned gift by naming the charity as the beneficiary
  • Provide an income tax-free legacy for your loved ones
  • Fund a buy/sell agreement for your business
  • Retain and reward key employees

Examples of how life insurance can be used to accomplish some of these varying objectives.

  1. Charitable giving – Jeff has named his alma mater as beneficiary of his life insurance policy after being approached by the planned gifts department of the university. He will fund a six-figure “gift” for the cost of his annual premium.
  2. Business succession – Evelyn and her younger business partner Craig have planned an orderly transition. They have a buy/sell agreement funded with life insurance on each partner. When Evelyn dies, the death benefit will go to purchase Evelyn’s interest in the business ensuring her family receives the value of her stake without liquidating the business itself.
  3. Legacy – Bill and Margie have been helping with the care of their 10-year-old granddaughter, Sylvie, who has special needs. By naming a special needs trust as beneficiary of their life insurance, her grandparents help ensure Sylvie’s living expenses will be taken care of after they die without affecting her eligibility for other types of assistance.

You may need help sifting through the fine print, asking the right questions and ensuring your policy(ies) are doing what you need them to. The advisors of each of the examples above – estate planning attorney, Financial Advisor, and accountant – suggested life insurance as a way to help accomplish their financial goals.

Next steps

  • Evaluate any life insurance you may already have.
  • Calculate your family’s expenses.
  • Check the beneficiaries listed on all insurance policies.
  • Speak with your Financial Advisor, accountant, and attorney about your insurance policies.

1Metlife 2015 Study of the Financial Impact of Premature Death

Insurance products are offered through nonbank insurance agency affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company and are underwritten by unaffiliated insurance companies.

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