Planning for life's 'what ifs' - The Explorer: Money & Finance

Planning for life's 'what ifs'

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Posted: Monday, September 1, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:33 am, Tue Sep 9, 2014.

(BPT) - It’s impossible to anticipate what life will throw your way. But still many families spend countless hours considering life’s many “what ifs.” What if we have kids? What if they are not healthy? What if we build a life that requires two salaries to make ends meet? What if we haven’t saved enough for the future? What if something happens to one of us?

While seemingly daunting, the answer for many of these “what ifs” is simple: careful planning and for many families, the protection of life insurance.

It can be difficult to anticipate exactly how much, and for how long, you will need the protection of life insurance. Like your family and a career, your policy should evolve over time to fit your evolving needs.

To get started in assessing your needs for life insurance, MassMutual offers the following questions to consider:

Do I need life insurance?

On the practical side, you know you’re not going to be around forever, and you need to do something about it. But life insurance forces you to really think about this eventuality.

“I can make a sound case for anyone to consider life insurance given everything that it has to offer, but if you’re a parent with dependent children, it’s a no brainer,” says Michael Fanning, an executive vice president with MassMutual. “The coverage helps ensure that your financial future isn't left to chance should the unthinkable happen. Rather than shy away from the inevitable, take the step to plan ahead and assure those you care about that you’ve prepared for their future.”

What kind of life insurance is best for me?

This all depends on your specific situation.

Term life insurance coverage may be an ideal solution for young families with modest incomes – offering critical protection at an affordable cost. However, as your family, income and responsibilities expand, your protection needs may change and a whole life insurance policy may make more sense. A convertible term life insurance policy allows you to convert from your term life insurance policy to a whole life insurance policy.

A whole life insurance policy offers a guaranteed premium, death benefit and cash value accumulation that can be accessed for supplemental retirement income, funding for a child's education, or cash for emergencies. (Just be aware that access to cash values through borrowing or partial surrenders will reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit, increase the chance the policy will lapse, and may result in a tax liability if the policy terminates before the death of the insured.)

How much life insurance do I need?

It is important to assess the financial needs of your family in order to determine the amount of coverage that can help protect their standard of living. Online calculators are available to help estimate your needs. Visit MassMutual’s online calculators to get started.

Once you have life insurance, it’s a good rule of thumb to assess your needs at least once a year and whenever you experience a significant life change, like the birth or adoption of a child, a marriage or divorce, or the purchase of a home. These are all factors that could impact your life insurance needs. During your annual assessment, also make sure your beneficiaries are up-to-date.

Still playing the ‘what if’ mantra in your head? What do I do next? What other financial decisions have I made that may not have been the best choices? What else should I be considering? Who can I trust? Meet with a qualified financial professional who can offer guidance specific to your situation. Visit www.massmutual.com for more information or to find a professional in your local area.

Welcome to the discussion.

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