What is Life Insurance? A life insurance policy is a policy whereby an insurance company agrees to pay a death benefit to named beneficiaries in exchange for payment of a premium. The amount of the death benefit is up to you, but is generally recommended based on income and how many years of support you wish to provide for those who survive you. Usually, a basic health care examination is required before such a policy will be issued and a final price quoted.
There are three basic types of life insurance policies, they are Term Policies, Universal Policies, and Whole Life Policies.
Term Life Policies are typically the cheapest to obtain. These policies provide coverage for a set amount of time. Usually these last anywhere from 10 to 25 years. If the covered person passes away during the coverage period, the death benefit is paid out according to the beneficiary designation form. If the coverage period runs and the covered person survives, the Policy lapses and no benefit is paid. Occasionally, the issuing company will offer the option to extend the coverage period for an increased premium upon the expiration of the coverage period.
The next type of life insurance policy is a Universal Policy. Unlike a term policy, a universal life insurance policy is permanent as long as the premium gets paid. These policies are more flexible, and allow you to change the benefit amount and the resulting premium to be paid. They are usually more expensive to obtain than a Term Life Insurance Policy.
The third type of life insurance policy is a whole life policy. Like a universal policy, this coverage lasts for the lifetime of the insured so long as any required premiums are paid. One of the key differences with a whole life insurance policy is that a universal policy accrues a cash surrender value. This amount is refunded back to the owner of the policy if the policy is cancelled prior to the covered person’s death. The danger here is that the cash surrender value of the life insurance policy is viewed as an available resource for purposes of Medicaid qualification. As such, you may be required to cash in the policy to pay for the cost of nursing home care. In that event, the Policy would end, and no death benefit would be paid.
Life insurance policies can be a great estate planning tool, and can be used in a variety of ways, including to offset expenses of the estate and for tax planning purposes. If you have any questions about a life insurance policy or how they can be used to benefit your family give us a call! Our attorneys will sit down with you, review any Policies you have and discuss the options which are available to you.
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