How much life insurance do I need?
To decide how much life insurance to buy, you need to first figure out what your goals are in purchasing this coverage. Ask yourself the following:
- Do I want to spare my loved ones funeral costs and outstanding debts?
- Am I concerned that my spouse or domestic partner will not be able to continue to pay off the mortgage if I die suddenly?
- Do I have dependents who count on my income?
- Am I concerned about college savings for my children or retirement savings for my spouse if I die suddenly?
While all situations are different, here are two scenarios to help you think through questions to ask:
If you have children, a spouse who does not work outside the home or aging parents who you financially support, you have dependents. Alternatively, you may simply have a spouse or domestic partner who would be unable to pay the mortgage without your financial contribution. In either case, your loved ones will no longer have your income to help them pay the bills and maintain their lifestyle after you are gone. You will have to purchase enough insurance to provide for their future, while considering how much of your budget should be devoted to life insurance.
Some insurance experts suggest that you purchase five to eight times your current income. While this may be a good way to begin estimating your family’s needs, you will also need to figure how much your dependents will need to pay for some expenses.
If you are young and plan to have a family in the future, you may also want to consider purchasing life insurance now so that you can lock in a good rate.
Just because you don?t have dependents, does not mean you don?t have responsibilities. For instance, you may be concerned with not being an economic burden to others if you die unexpectedly. You may also want to leave some money behind to close family, friends or a special charity as a remembrance. In this case, you should purchase enough coverage to pay funeral and burial expenses, outstanding debts and tax liabilities, so that the bulk of your estate goes to your family, friends or charities.
Your insurance needs will vary greatly according to your financial assets and liabilities, income potential and level of expenses.