So you’re married, and prepared to spend the rest of your life with the one you love, and she’s prepared to spend the rest of her life with you. You’ve gotten through the cleaning chores, and you’ve learned when to say thank you… But are you prepared for when death does you part? What about the other ‘planning’ things that need to be taken care of? It’s not anyone’s favorite thing to talk about, but it should be talked about. In order to avoid making the uncomfortable conversation last longer than necessary, I have a few tips on what to talk about and why. To start, we’ll talk about Life Insurance.
*To be clear, I am not a licensed professional, and this is not to be considered professional advice. I was licensed in Life, Disability Insurance many years ago, but no longer hold those certifications. The articles in this series are to be considered good ideas and nothing more.*
Life insurance can get very complicated very quickly, but in order to keep it simple, all you need to think about is what it would take to replace your income until your family can become self-sustaining. What does your income pay for?
- Mortgage or rent?
- Utility bills?
- Credit card debt?
- Car payments?
This is where having a budget comes in handy, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Find a good Life Insurance broker (someone referred by a friend or relative is always the best option) and find out what you qualify for. At the very least, try to cover a full year’s salary. If you can afford more, get enough to pay off debt in order to give your spouse a few less things to worry about while learning to live life without you. If you can afford enough to pay off the car, credit cards, and even the house, it will turn out to be a sound investment.
Keep in mind that some employers offer life insurance for their employees. See how much you can get from them, but understand that if you stop working for that employer, the insurance goes away.
There is also a lot of confusion surrounding Term Life insurance or Whole Life insurance. Term life insurance covers you for a certain period of time (such as 20 years) and is a good idea if you only want to cover the costs of raising a child, and nothing afterwards. Whole Life insurance does not expire, and is a better option if you want to take care of your spouse’s financial needs after your untimely demise. Ask your insurance broker what makes sense based on your situation.
Remember, it’s best to get insurance when you are young and healthy. Some diseases can make you un-insurable, and as you get older, the cost of insurance goes up. Keep that in mind if you’re thinking about getting Term insurance… it will be more expensive 20 years from now.
One last thing, if your health improves (such as you lose weight or quit smoking) some life insurance companies will let you take a new physical to apply for a lower rate to your existing insurance. Ask your insurance broker what they offer.
This won’t be a fun conversation, but it is an important conversation. You and your wife will feel much more comfortable when it is over and everything is set up.
About the Author: Abby Dryer's goal in life is to bridge the communication gap between men and women. She finds herself giving lots of marital advice to her guy friends whose wives don’t want to have to explain *everything* to their husbands. “Women are hard to understand. I’m a woman, and *I* don’t even get us sometimes! Goodhusbanding is a great guide to help men understand their women, and hopefully communicate with a little more confidence, because that’s what works… communication!”