As our lives grow and change with variable circumstances, new additions, and job transitions, our needs for insurance will also evolve. Additionally, economic fluctuations and external circumstances that influence your insurance policy will need frequent re-evaluation to ensure that you are making the most appropriate and financially favorable decisions. Perhaps you aren’t sure whether you should conduct an insurance audit or not. The following scenarios are usually a good indication that you should thoroughly assess and review your current policy contract:
- Bringing new life into your family? A new baby may not only prompt you to adjust your beneficiary information, but it is likely to change or influence your coverage needs.
- Changing jobs? Probationary periods may not provide the same level of disability or accident insurance.
- Is your policy nearing the end of its term? Be sure to compare prices for new policies as they can sometimes be more affordable as compared to renewing the current plan.
- Has your marital status changed? Your insurance policy will likely need updating to reflect such.
The specific type of insurance policy you carry as well as personal details certainly influence coverage and premium prices, so if any of the following factors apply to you, be sure to update your policy accordingly. You might be eligible for a rate reduction.
- Changes to your overall risk assessment like smoking cessation, dangerous hobbies, high risk profession etc.
- If you have experienced improvements to a previously diagnosed health condition.
- Do your policy’s investment options still fall in line with current market conditions?
- Have you used your insurance policy as collateral for a loan? Once that loan is paid off, collateral status should be taken off the policy.
Insurance policies generated for business purposes should also be regularly reviewed to make sure the policy still offers adequate coverage to meet the needs of the company and includes the appropriate beneficiary information. With life happening so quickly, it can be easy to forget about keeping insurance policies up to date, however, major changes can have a profound impact on coverage and premiums. Be sure to conduct insurance audits often to ensure your policies are still meeting your needs.
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You most likely do, but the more important question is, ‘What kind?’ Whether you’re a young professional starting out, a devoted parent or a successful CEO, securing a life insurance policy is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make in your adult life. Most people would agree that having financial safety nets in place is a good way to make sure that your loved ones will be taken care of when you pass away. Insurance can also help support your financial obligations and even take care of your estate liabilities. The tricky part, however, is figuring out what kind of life insurance best suits your goals and needs. This quick guide will help you decide what life insurance policy is best for you, depending on who needs to benefit from it and how long you’ll need it.
Permanent or Term?
Life insurance can be classified into two principal types: permanent or term. Both have different strengths and weaknesses, depending on what you aim to achieve with your life insurance policy.
Term life insurance provides death benefits for a limited amount of time, usually for a fixed number of years. Let’s say you get a 30-year term. This means you’ll only pay for each year of those 30 years. If you die before the 30-year period, then your beneficiaries shall receive the death benefits they are entitled to. After the period, the insurance shall expire. You will no longer need to pay premiums, and your beneficiaries will no longer be entitled to any benefits.
Term life insurance is right for you if you are:
- The family breadwinner. Death benefits will replace your income for the years that you will have been working, in order to support your family’s needs.
- A stay-at-home parent. You can set your insurance policy term to cover the years that your child will need financial support, especially for things that you would normally provide as a stay-at-home parent, such as childcare services.
- A divorced parent. Insurance can cover the cost of child support, and the term can be set depending on how long you need to make support payments.
- A mortgagor. If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you can set up your term insurance to cover the years that you have to make payments. This way, your family won’t have to worry about losing their home.
- A debtor with a co-signed debt. If you have credit card debt or student loans, a term life insurance policy can cover your debt payments. The term can be set to run for the duration of the payments.
- A business owner. If you’re a business owner, you may need either a term or permanent life insurance, depending on your needs. If you’re primarily concerned with paying off business debts, then a term life insurance may be your best option.
Unlike term life insurance, a permanent life insurance does not expire. This means that your beneficiaries can receive death benefits no matter when you die. Aside from death benefits, a permanent life insurance policy can also double as a savings plan. A certain portion of your premiums can build cash value, which you may “withdraw” or borrow for future needs. You can do well with a permanent life insurance policy if you:
- …Have a special needs child. As a special needs child will most likely need support for health care and other expenses even as they enter adulthood. Your permanent life insurance can provide them with death benefits any time within their lifetime.
- …Want to leave something for your loved ones. Regardless of your net worth, permanent life insurance will make sure that your beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to. If you have a high net worth, permanent life insurance can take care of estate taxes. Otherwise, they will still get even a small inheritance through death benefits.
- …Want to make sure that your funeral expenses are covered. Final expense insurance can provide coverage for funeral expenses for smaller premiums.
- …Have maximized your retirement plans. As permanent life insurance may also come with a savings component, this can also be used to help you out during retirement.
- …Own a business. As mentioned earlier, business owners may need either permanent or term, depending on their needs.
A permanent insurance policy can help pay off estate taxes, so that the successors can inherit the business worry-free. Different people have different financial needs, so there is no one-sized-fits-all approach to choosing the right insurance policy for you. Talk to us now, and find out how a permanent or term life insurance can best give you security and peace of mind.
Writing an estate plan is important if you own personal assets but is all the more crucial if you also own your own business. This is due to the additional business complexities that need to be addressed, including tax issues, business succession and how to handle bigger and more complex estates. Seeking professional help from an accountant, lawyer or financial advisor is an effective way of dealing with such complexities. As a starting point, ask yourself these seven key questions and, if you answer “no” to any of them, it may highlight an area that you need to take remedial action towards.
- Have you made a contingency plan for what will happen to your business if you are incapacitated or die unexpectedly?
- Have you and any co-owners of your business made a buy-sell agreement?
- If so, is the buy-sell agreement funded by life insurance?
- If you have decided that a family member will inherit your business when you die, have you provided other family members with assets of an equal value?
- Have you appointed a successor to your business?
- Are you making the most of the lifetime capital gains exemption ($835,714 in 2017) on your shares of the business, if you are a qualified small business?
- Are you taking care to minimize any possible tax liability that may be payable by your estate in the event of your death?
The process of freezing the value of your business at a particular date is an increasingly common way of protecting your estate from a large capital gains tax bill if your business increases in value. To achieve this, usually the shares in the business that have the highest growth potential are redistributed to others, often your children, meaning that they will be liable for the tax on any increase in their value in the future. In exchange, you will receive new shares allowing you to maintain control of the business with a key difference – the value of the shares is frozen so that your tax liability is lower and that of your estate when you die will also be reduced.
In today’s uncertain and sometimes volatile financial world, the importance of putting tangible steps in place not only to protect, but to maximize your investments and wealth has never been more crucial. Without the gift of a crystal ball, we are unable to confidently predict the precise landscape of the financial outlook a year in advance, let alone decades ahead. This is where the importance of forward and contingency financial planning comes in. Let’s explore some of the key areas in this field:
Planning for Your Financial Future
Risk management is a term given to the strategies to help to protect your capital from unexpected events which can have a critical effect on your finances, such as unemployment, disability or critical illness.
In case of unemployment, you should have an emergency fund (usually about 3 months of income). The benefits of disability insurance policies are that in case of disability and you can not work, the insurance will provide you with a portion of your salary.
In case of critical illness, you can use the benefit to maintain financial stability and recover without financial worries.
Considering Segregated Funds?
Dabbling in equities markets can sometimes feel daunting and many people worry about the risks of investing their capital in the market over which they have no direct control. If this is something that concerns you too, segregated funds could provide you with a good compromise. They have similarities to mutual funds in that that they allow you to benefit from the financial growth of your portfolio of securities, but offer you more protection by the means of a maturity guarantee and a death benefit guarantee, further securing your investment.
We end this article with a nod to the crucial area of estate planning. Essentially, this involves ensuring that you create and maintain an up to date and legally binding Will, as well as choosing your executor, beneficiaries, trustees and also naming a legal guardian for your children, if you have any. This will help to ensure that your financial wishes are carried out correctly and effectively, minimizing upset and disruption at a difficult time.
By taking the time to think carefully about your current financial position and the priorities that you have for your and your family’s future, you can take advantage of some of the strategies, products and services out there to provide extra security for your financial future and added peace of mind for yourself and your family.
Get in Touch
Tel: (604) 428-4114
Clear Path Financial Planners
4603 Kingsway, Suite 210
Burnaby, BC V5G 4M4
Fax: (604) 436-3302
Certified Financial Planner®
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About Clear Path Financial Planning
We believe in empowering our clients to participate in the creation and maintenance of their overall financial well being through proper education and ensuring an understanding of the possible outcomes involved in each decision. It always surprises us to learn that so many individuals are removed from their planning and rely on their advisers to recommend the best course of action. This tends to be the result of a lack of understanding of the proposed concept/situation on the part of the client or their financial team not spending time to ensure the client fully understands and appreciates the possible benefits/disadvantages of each proposal.