What’s your plan for your estate after you pass away? Do you have a will or trust? Have you discussed your goals with your children or other heirs? Or do you lack any estate planning documents?
If you haven’t yet planned your estate, you’re not alone. Nearly 60 percent of Americans lack a will, one of the most basic elements of any estate plan. ¹ A will is a simple and affordable document that lists who should receive which assets in your estate after you pass away.
There’s one other important basic component in any estate plan. It’s life insurance. Life insurance provides valuable financial relief to your dependents and heirs after your passing. It can minimize financial challenges during an already difficult period.
While it may not be pleasant to think about your own passing, the issue is too important to ignore. That’s especially true if you have dependents or other loved ones who may be financially impacted by your death. Below are a few ways in which life insurance can help your estate and your heirs.
Provides Cash for Heirs
The days and weeks after a loved one’s passing can be emotionally draining, but they can also be financially challenging. Your heirs could face a wide range of bills, including final expenses for your funeral and possibly outstanding bills for any health care you received during your final days.
If you’re a financial provider for your spouse or children, they may also face the prospect of moving forward without your income. They don’t just lose you; they also lose your paycheck. That could make it difficult for them to maintain their standard of living.
Life insurance provides quick cash so they can overcome these challenges. Your death benefit is paid out in a lump sum to your designated beneficiaries. They can then use that money to pay bills, cover your final expenses, and even replace your income.
Helps You Maintain Control
Perhaps you want to leave a legacy to your children and grandchildren, but don’t particularly trust them to receive a large lump sum upon your death. Maybe they’re too young to manage a sizable amount of money, or perhaps they’ve struggled with financial discipline in the past.
No matter your specific concerns, a trust is a great way to manage your legacy even after you pass away. When you create your trust, you can specify rules and guidance about how money should be managed and distributed to your heirs. You can specify that it’s distributed at certain points in time or when an heir reaches a specific age or life milestone.
How do you fund your trust? One way to do it is through life insurance. You simply make the trust the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. Then the assets are distributed to your heirs according to your rules. You provide a financial legacy for your loved ones, but still do it on your terms.
Minimizes the Impact of Probate
Even if you have a will, your estate may still have to go through a process called probate. This is the legal process for finalizing an estate. During this time, your estate executor works with the local probate court to finalize outstanding items like taxes, debts, asset liquidation, the notification of heirs, and more.
Probate can be time-consuming and costly. If your estate is complex, it could take months before your assets are distributed to heirs. Your estate could also rack up thousands of dollars in legal fees and other costs, reducing the amount that goes to your heirs.
Life insurance avoids probate. It doesn’t go through the legal system. Rather, it’s paid directly to your beneficiaries as a tax-free lump sum. That means they get a benefit quickly, which they can use to pay bills or to simply enjoy your legacy.