In the last several months, I’ve thought a lot about estate planning and life insurance. I wrote on my ForbesWomen column about why it’s so important to have a will. My husband and I bought our own life insurance. I found out how expensive funerals are in the United States. Basically, I’ve been thinking a lot about death. Perhaps that sounds morbid, but it’s something that literally all of us have to face eventually. Pretending it won’t happen won’t help us or prevent us from dying someday. In fact, avoiding the topic can make us feel more anxious and might even leave our families in a bad position if and when we die. Doing proper estate planning and buying life insurance has specific benefits to us and others:
You’ll Have Peace of Mind
Life insurance is just like many other types of insurance. You get it in order to prepare for the worst, while hoping the worst never happens. Of course, life insurance is different in that everyone will die someday. However, it’s especially important to have life insurance while there are people depending on you. For example, someone who is 80 years old with a house that’s paid off and whose children are grown up and independent probably doesn’t need to be paying for life insurance. But someone who is 45 with a mortgage, a spouse that doesn’t work, and small children absolutely needs insurance. Having life insurance will make it so that you never have to worry about what will happen to the people you love if you die young.
You’ll Take Care of Your Loved Ones
Have you ever heard stories about someone’s parent dying and their family being left with not only their grief, but debt as well? It happens a lot and it can add a large financial burden to the people left behind. This can be due to financial responsibilities like paying a mortgage or even paying for the funeral costs. And according to Finder.com, funeral costs in the United States can be sky high depending on where you live.
Plus, life insurance can be a great way to leave a legacy to your family after you’re gone. This is especially true if there isn’t much other inheritance for you to leave behind. In this way, you’re able to set your family up for financial security in the future, and hopefully will allow them to do the same for their children. For example, when my aunt passed away suddenly, she was able to leave behind enough money to take care of my uncle’s living expenses and pay for my cousins to go to college. Not having to worry about how to get by meant that they didn’t have that added stress on top of their immense grief.
You’ll Plan for Your Future
Did you know that life insurance isn’t just for the people you leave behind, but it can be used for yourself as well? One of the most important differences between whole and term life insurance is the investment component. Whole life insurance will last you for your entire life (rather than a specific 20 or 30 year term like with term insurance). Another interesting part of whole life insurance is that after a period of time, the money can actually start to grow because it’s being invested in the stock market. That means you can take money from the cash value of your life insurance and use it for other things, like living expenses, education costs, home renovations, etc. It’s the value that you’ve paid for, so you don’t have to pay it back. You just have to be mindful of how much you are withdrawing and how much that will leave behind for your loved ones after you pass.
My husband and I decided for now to have term life insurance. It’s more affordable for our current financial situation, and it’s possible to switch to whole life insurance without penalty. Of course, the premiums will go up, but we don’t have to get another health exam or anything like that. We haven’t decided yet if we actually will switch to whole life insurance someday, but it’s an appealing option that would give us access to more funds later in life.
How about you? Do you have life insurance?
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.