In my next three posts, I will discuss life insurance and its importance in the financial and estate planning context. Many financial and estate planning experts consider life insurance to be the cornerstone of sound planning. In this post, I will discuss why life insurance can be an important tool.
Replace income for dependents - If family members or others depend on your income, life insurance can replace that income for them if you die. The most commonly recognized case of this is parents with young children. However, it can also apply to couples in which the survivor would be financially stricken by the income lost through the death of a partner. Insurance to replace your income can be especially useful if the government or employer sponsored benefits of your surviving spouse or domestic partner will be reduced after your death.
Pay final expenses - Life insurance can pay your funeral and burial costs, probate and other estate administration costs and debts and medical expenses not covered by health insurance.
Create an inheritance for your heirs - Even if you have no other assets to pass to your heirs, you can create an inheritance by buying a life insurance policy and naming them as beneficiaries.
Pay federal estate taxes and state death taxes - Life insurance benefits can pay estate taxes so that your heirs will not have to liquidate other assets or take a smaller inheritance.
Make significant charitable contributions - By making a charity the beneficiary of your life insurance, you can make a much larger contribution than if you donated the cash equivalent of the policy's premiums.
Create a source of savings - Some types of life insurance create a cash value that, if not paid out as a death benefit, can be borrowed or withdrawn on the owner's request. Since most people make paying their life insurance policy premiums a high priority, buying a cash-value type policy can create a kind of "forced" savings plan. However, these types of insurance policies can be rather expensive and difficult to evaluate.
In my next post, I'll discuss the principal types of insurance - term and whole life.