Life Insurance: Protection and More

  • Life insurance helps preserve the income your family depends on.
  • If you died prematurely, your family members may not be able to sustain their lifestyle without your income.
  • Life insurance can also be 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.

How much life insurance do you need?

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

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 evaluate the financial impact of losing the family’s primary wage earner. In a 2018 survey, LIMRA engaged adult consumers who are financial decision makers in their households. Almost half of respondents would feel the financial adversity from the loss of their primary wage earner in just six months, and more than a third would feel adversity in a month or less.1

Some things to consider

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

You will want to consider immediate expenses and possible future financial obligations.

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.

You may also want to replace the income you would have been earning for your family. Take a look at how many years your family will need support and the average rate of return on investments. Think of your life insurance in terms of the income it can provide.

How long will your existing resources, such as savings, investments, and other life insurance policies maintain your family’s current standard of living?

How much and for how long will your spouse or partner’s earnings continue and their savings and investments last?

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 your policy(ies) annually.

Life insurance as a financial tool

Life insurance is a financial tool valued for its death benefit. With life insurance, your beneficiaries get a cash death benefit, income tax-free, when you pass away. Insurance can also be used to help you achieve your goals while you are still alive and well. Insurance can be used to:

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

Hypothetical 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 and asking the right questions to ensure your policies are meeting your expectations.

Next steps

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

1LIMRA 2018 Insurance Barometer Study

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