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How much life insurance do I need?

We have no children, but we do have a home mortgage. Other than that, no debt, however, so is life insurance based on those types of factors? Or, is there a simple equation to figure out how much may be needed?

Jan 10, 2012 by eve from Westminster, CO in  |  Flag
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6 votes
Brad Raines Level 15

There are endless Rule of Thumbs, calculations, and strategies for determining how much life insurance you need. The difference between an Insurance Salesperson and an Insurance Advisor is that the Advisor will help you determine your actual need while the Salesperson will tell you what they think you need. I know we are suppose to rely on our hired professionals for sound advice, but the amount of life insurance you need is a decision that needs to be your call.

A simple and accurate way to determine the amount of life insurance you need (insert opinion here) is to walk through the scenarios with your spouse. I know it can be a bit morbid, but it's also efficient and effective. Sit down with them and answer these questions: 1. If I died today, what would you need or want? 2. If you died today, what would I need or want? 3. If I died 10 years from now, what would you need or want? 4. If you died 10 years from now, what would I need or want? 5. If I died 20 years from now,... etc.

Some people will answer those questions and find don't need any life insurance. Some will require life insurance only to cover their needs (debt, income,...etc). Some would like enough life insurance to cover their needs AND put their loved ones in a better plan financially (ie "wants"). Once you both answer those questions, then you can take those answers to an Insurance Advisor who can explain how different life insurance policies work and shop for the best rates. Hope that helps!

Invest With Purpose. www.appliedcapital.com

Comment   |  Flag   |  May 22, 2013 from Little Rock, AR

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5 votes

Hi Eve, There are several ways to figure out how much life insurance a person needs. One method you could use is:

Add: - How much is your mortgage balance? - Total amount of any existing debt (school loans, credit cards, other loans, cars, etc)?

MINUS - Total amount you have saved (liquid assets)

= ANSWER Part I Now, you need to figure out if all of your debt was paid off, how much money would you need on a monthly basis to live (include food, clothing, school, childcare, etc) Multiply the above figure by 12 (annual figure) and divide this by .06 (an assumed rate of return)

= ANSWER Part II

Add to the above "ANWER PART III" a dollar amount for children's college savings if you plan to save for college

= ANSWER Part III

NOW, add ANSWER PART III and ANSWER PART I

For example, mortgage balance of $500k and debt of $100k minus $50k liquid assets = $550k (ANSWER Part I).... Need of $5k/month = ($2k x's 12 divided by .06 = $400,000 = ANSWER Part II)... Now add, $50k for college savings. Therefore, ANSWER Part III = $450,000 So, the total amount of insurance is $550,000 + $450,000 = $1,000,000 This is just an idea of how to solve for how much insurance you need. You can always look for calculators online or speak with a professional like myself.

Melissa Levin, CFP®, CFS CA Insurance Lic #0C56086 714-547-8787

Due to industry regulations, the advisor may not post additional reply comments. If you would like to contact the author, please email her at Melissa.Levin@lpl.com. Melissa Levin is a LPL Registered Representative with, and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA www.finra.org /SIPC www.sipc.org The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jun 12, 2012 from Cowan Heights, CA

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Anil Vazirani Level 8

The best way and simplest way to ascertain the total amount of life insurance coverage you need can be based on your debts, replacement income for surviving spouse, and funding of kids education. In my 20 years the most effective financial planning tool that I have used is the FINANCIAL NEEDS ANALYSIS QUESTIONAIRRE to come up with the best possible answer on how much life insurance to own.

Comment   |  Flag   |  May 17, 2013 from Scottsdale, AZ

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For starters, you should have enough insurance, preferably term insurance, to pay off the mortgage, pay funeral expenses, and provide a small liquidity cushion. Beyond that you can add amounts for supplementing a retirement nest-egg, or other wants or needs, should one of you meet an unfortunate and untimely end. The formula is this: "If I die, what do I want to happen, and how much will that cost?" Then, ask how long do you need that protection for?

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jan 10, 2012 from Arvada, CO

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Don Unger, MSFS Level 18

First, in cases like your's I like to make sure that should either partner die unexpectedly, that there is enouh money to pay off the mortgage and any debt and provide enough extra to offset the loss of income.

There are two ways to calculate the amount needed. There is what I call the "quick and Dirty" approach. With this we just assume that an amount of 8-10 times income is a sufficient amount fo insurance.

The second way is more involved. It adds all the assets, adds all the liabilities, calculates future needs and comes up with the amount fo insurance. There are some readily accessible free calculators available to use on the internet. Here is one http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/insurance/life-insurance-calculator.aspx

Either way, I recommend that you find a "live" and local independent insurance agent near you. "Live" because if you deal with one of the internet only shops, you won't pay any less, you will just get less service and you never know if that internet only person will still be there in 3 months, let alone 3 weeks.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Oct 09, 2012 from Henrico, VA

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Joe Soto Level 15

Hello Eve,

To answer your question about how much you need no one here can say. There are a number of factors to consider like mentioned by everyone here.

As for a formula, many people will use 8 to 10 times their salary. However this is a very fast way to do it and not as good as sitting down with a specialist who will do the job right like Anil suggested and provided you with an FNA.

Hope this helps.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Aug 29, 2013 from Burbank, CA

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A variety of factors go into determining how much life insurance is necessary for you and your spouse. If you are using a life insurance contract as an income replacement tool in the event of your untimely death, then you need to determine the costs that your family will need to absorb if you are not around. These could include mortgages and other debts and the loss of salary/commissions/bonus you typically receive in a given year. No two situations are alike; you should sit down with a licensed agent to design a plan that is right for you.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jul 30, 2013 from Cranford, NJ

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