Does your family rely on you for support? If you’re wealthy and there’s an estate plan to pass money along — great, but most of us don’t fall into that category.
A recent study found 35 percent of families would struggle within a month if their primary income earner passed away. Many Americans can’t scrape together $400 for an unplanned expense, so ’s easy to see how catastrophic an untimely passing could be.
If your family lost you, it may not be long before your family, too, is drowning in bills. Covering the mortgage could be difficult. But it could be easier with a term life insurance policy. You’ll sleep better knowing you’re not one of the 41 percent of adults without protection.
What’s the right amount for your family? Well, it depends. There are a few ways experts calculate the number. One method — called financial needs analysis — considers everything you own. It estimates the total expenses in your absence, subtracts your assets, and covers the difference with insurance.
Immediate expenses may include your funeral and a period for grieving. After that, your family may need to pay for basic living expenses, children, and college. If running the numbers feels overwhelming, Life Happens has a calculator.
You will also want to pay off debt. If you’re like most people, your primary debt is your mortgage. Some people prefer a separate life insurance policy for this purpose. If you have $150,000 and 20 years left on your mortgage, you could buy a separate policy to match that amount and time frame. If you’re young and healthy, it may be more affordable than you expect.
When you buy term life insurance, you hope your family never has to collect. But the unexpected sometimes happens, and payouts do, too. Your policy won’t immediately send a check once you’re gone. The claims process is simple, though.
The people you have named — called beneficiaries — will need three documents to begin: 1) copies of your certified death certificate, 2) the policy documents, and 3) a claim form or request for benefits. The extent of the burden on your beneficiaries is to call the insurer, send the required documents, and confirm receipt of the claim.
The next step is checking all the paperwork. Your insurer will confirm your policy is active, premiums paid, and your beneficiaries, in fact, who they say they are. Assuming everything is in order, your beneficiaries will receive a lump sum payout.
The proceeds can pay for day-to-day living expenses — like utilities, groceries, or gas — or larger bills like the mortgage or college tuition; it’s entirely up to your beneficiaries.
In the event of a tragic accident, you would hate for your family to struggle to pay the mortgage or, worse, to lose the home and stability for which you’ve worked so hard. Term life insurance is a simple, affordable way to protect your family. It may be one of the smartest decisions you’ll ever make.