Updated: Feb 28, 2022
The bottom line: When you die, life insurance provides money to the people who depend on you. It can also do much more. So, how do you know which type of policy to choose for a particular need you may have? There are two main types of life insurance policies:
Term Policies: For short-term needs, usually 30 years or less
Permanent Policies: For needs that tend to last indefinitely
Now, let’s look at the powerful ways life insurance can help you, starting with the most obvious: One: Provide Money to Help the People You Love You work hard to provide for the people you love, seeing to it they have what they need. But what will happen to them when you die? Think about how they’ll be able to pay for such things as your final expenses, debt, the mortgage, care of a child, or a college education for your kids or grandkids. Life insurance provides them with a sum of money, known as a death benefit. In general, a term policy can help you to meet these needs. If you want a longer-lasting policy, take a look at a permanent policy. Two: Leave a Legacy You want to leave a meaningful amount of money to the people you love and the causes you care about. You also want to minimize the impact that taxes can have. Life insurance can provide them with a lump sum of money. A portion of the death benefit from a life insurance policy can be used to pay any taxes that may be due on your estate. Typically, your beneficiaries won’t have to pay any taxes on the money they receive from your life insurance policy, per IRC §101(a). A permanent policy for one or a permanent policy for two is generally the type of policy to choose. Three: Create Another Source of Income, Especially for Retirement As you go through life, you’ll probably have some large expenses, such as paying for your kids’ or grandkids’ college educations, the mortgage, or a major emergency. You may also want to supplement your retirement income—another large expense. Over time, many permanent life insurance policies offer you the potential to accumulate cash value. It can be used any way you wish,1 including as extra retirement income, through tax-advantaged loans from your policy’s cash value. Indexed and variable permanent policies are often used as part of an income strategy. Four: Have Access to Money In Case You Get Sick People are living longer than ever before. It’s important to think about how you could get the extra money you might need to take care of yourself if you get a chronic or terminal illness. Permanent life insurance can help. In addition to tax-advantaged access to cash value,1 many policies offer an optional, added provision, called a rider, that lets you accelerate the death benefit while you are still living. The money can be used for any reason. Five: Pay Less in Taxes Taxes are a fact of life. Many of us don’t want to pay any more in taxes than we absolutely have to. Life insurance offers tax benefits. Both term and permanent policies will provide your beneficiaries with a typically tax-free death benefit when you die, per IRC §101(a). While you’re living, you can take income tax-free loans from the cash value of your permanent policy. Six: Protect Your Business As a business owner, you have a lot to protect—your business, your employees, and your family. If one of your partners or key employees dies or becomes disabled, there needs to be as little impact to your business as possible. You also want to attract and retain top talent. Permanent life insurance can help with business continuation when a partner or key employee dies. It can also help facilitate the exchange of business ownership in the event of your or a partner’s retirement, disability, or death—without depleting the business’ capital. Permanent life insurance can be used to fund non-qualified retirement plans. Term policies can also be used to help protect your business. Life Insurance There are different types of term life insurance. Some are for very short terms, others longer. Some will return your premiums at the end of the term. There are also different types of permanent life insurance: universal life; indexed universal life; and variable universal life. Explore each policy type so you can make an informed decision about which policy or policies fit your circumstances.