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Term life insurance tax benefits

The real value of life insurance

Life insurance's most known benefit is the lump sum payment to protect your loved ones in the event of death.  This is only half of the story if the beneficiaries are correctly listed during the application process (or upon review during the life of the policy).  Life insurance is one of the few (and decreasing) ways to receive money without taxation.  Congress routinely threatens to tax life insurance benefits in its ever-increasing search for more revenue but the political backlash has proven to  be too strong as a result of the huge tax benefits associated with life insurance.  Let's look a little closer.

The stories of probate are just plain depressing.  The last thing your loved ones want to deal with after such a loss is the often lengthy, usually expensive, and sometimes confrontational result of estate probate.   If assets are not properly and specifically designated then they will typically will go towards a deceased person's "estate".  This estate is usually subject to taxes and creditors.  This can all be avoided with proper estate planning but most people are unaware of the complications that arrive during the process of probate.   In the U.S., people tend to avoid or put-off decision that deal with death (and long term disability for that matter).  It's important to see in real terms what this can means so let's look at just the taxation angle.

Let's look at leaving your family $500K in money/assets versus $500K as a term life benefit to see what a difference life insurance can make.  Now proper estate planning may be able to help, but with such a large amount as $500K, the taxes can easily be 50% (Federal and State) since it is falling in one tax year as a lump sum.  That means that one $250K out of the original $500K might go to your loved ones.   This so called inheritance tax occurs all the time because people are ill-prepared or unaware.  Let's take the case of a life insurance benefit being paid out.  If the beneficiary is correctly listed, the full $500K would go the beneficiary with no taxation.  This is a huge benefit to life insurance. 

Surprisingly, the net assets (total assets minus total debt) is not that high in the U.S.  On average, Americans tend to carry a great deal of debt and this trend has been increasing if anything.  Once Uncle Sam has taken his share (the above 50% for example), estate assets can be subject to various creditors.  The remaining $250K may now be reduced another $100K to $150K.  We have now gone from $500K to $150K.  Again, term life insurance benefits are typically not subject to creditors as well.  It really is an short cut around the huge pitfalls for large sums of money to be passed on to your loved ones. 

Let's talk about how to structure the life insurance beneficiary so that the death benefit is protected from taxation and the pains of probate.  Clarity in how the benefit is to be paid to beneficiaries is also extremely important with term life insurance policies.  For example, if you have three children and designate an equal amount to each, what happens if one deceases before you or cannot be found?  Specify exactly how this type of situation would be handled so there's no confusing.  Wills are not a substitute for properly naming your term life beneficiary as wills traditionally deal only with estate issues (probate).   Probate is subject to taxes and creditors so it's important to name a person's name directly as a beneficiary to avoid this.

We recommend speaking with an estate planner to truly understand the options available to avoid as much of the sting of probate as possible.  We are here to help you with the term life insurance part of this strategy as it remains one of the hidden gems of insuring your assets go to your loved ones.

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DISCLAIMER   -   Information provided on this page is intended as a general overview.  Your situation regarding life insurance may be different and we strongly          
 recommend speaking with a license life insurance agent.  This information is solely the opinion of etermlifeinsurancequote.com and may not be suitable for you.