When choosing a life insurance beneficiary, it is very important to be clear in the designations of who is going to receive the benefits after the death of the insured.
Due to specifications regarding the wording of beneficiaries, certain members of the family may be left out, while others may be unintentionally included.
It becomes especially complicated when there is an ex-spouse involved, or adopted children.
Should the beneficiary die before the insured, then a contingent receives the benefits instead.
However, this can become complicated if the contingent is a minor and no guardian has been designated. The process of determining insurance beneficiaries can be complicated, especially given the changing family situations that happen with divorce and death.
When deciding on your insurance beneficiaries, make sure the beneficiaries are clearly distinguished, with varying levels of contingents.
Specifying Your Beneficiaries
When writing out who will receive life insurance benefits upon your death, simply putting one-word designations like “spouse”, “children”, or “grandchildren” isn’t enough anymore. If you put “spouse,” then former spouses may be included in the event of a divorce. In the case that children are the beneficiaries, then which children will be included must be specified.
Are they only children from your marriage, or do children born out of wedlock count?
Also, it must be specified if adopted children are included, or the children of a spouse which you may have adopted as well. The same applies for any grandchildren. Also, if the children are minors, it is generally recommended that a guardian be appointed, as benefits aren’t usually paid to minors.
The beneficiaries can be specific, or a class. Specific beneficiaries are identified by name and relationship to the insured, while a class is identified mainly by relationship, such as “children.” If a class is chosen as a beneficiary, who belongs to that class needs to be clearly identified, as legal complications can arise if the class isn’t distinguished.
Also, it is advisable to have several levels of contingencies. In the case that a beneficiary dies, the benefits will go to the contingent.
However, if the contingency dies as well as the beneficiary, the benefits may be left in limbo, or to be disputed by other family members. That is why several contingencies must be clearly identified, as many complications can arise considering the possibilities of a changing family structure.
How Much Life Insurance Will Your Beneficiaries Need?
As important as it is to find your right beneficiary, you have to make sure that person(s) is left with enough money to cover any financial obligations you will leave behind. So let’s take a look at some of the factors that help you decide how much coverage you need to buy.
You always need to calculate your current debt situation first. The main goal of your life insurance plan is to give your family the money needed to pay off all your bills and debts. The number you come up with should be the baseline for how much coverage you start looking for.
If it’s in your budget we also suggest adding a few years worth of salary to the final total as well. Your income has helped support the family for years and a sudden loss could bring on major lifestyle changes. To stave that quick change it’s best to up the value some to provide some breathing room as they cope with a drop in household income.
Another category to account for is the funeral expenses. While you may not realize it, funerals are expensive. Funerals can come in around $10,000, and is a big expense that some might not be ready to pay. Your coverage will give your family the money that they need to fulfill your family wishes.
Getting Affordable Life Insurance
In addition to choosing the right beneficiary, and ensuring that they will have enough money, it’s also important to get the most affordable life insurance plan available. A lot of applicants are surprised to see how cheap a life insurance plan can be, regardless of how much life insurance you need.
One of the easiest ways to get lower insurance rates is by cutting out tobacco. Users pose a much greater risk to have health problems like cancer or heart problems, which equals a greater risk to the insurance company. By mitigating that risk they’ll be charging you much more for your insurance coverage, and that charge could be twice the quoted amount.
The medical exam you’ll go through is going to show the carrier a snapshot of your overall health. If you’re overweight, then your premiums are going to be around 50% higher than a person that rates healthy. So when you know the date you want to apply its best to start living a healthier life a few months before. Eat a little cleaner, exercise a little more. These actions will keep your premiums down.
Another action is to lay off the gas pedal. When the insurance company is reviewing your application, they are going to pull your driving records. With a lengthy accident or ticket history, the carrier could see you as a high-risk applicant, which is going to translate into more expensive coverage. Slowing down on your way to work in the morning can save you hundreds of dollars every year, not to mention you won’t have to pay those expensive speeding tickets.
Our last tip is the easiest step for you. Compare, compare, compare. And you can make it even easier by working with us! We have years of experience working with quality insurance companies and we’ve helped all types of applicants get the perfect plan for you. Our status as independent agents allows us to gather as many quotes as fast as possible and present them to you in a simple form.
Explore all Possibilities with Life Insurance Beneficiaries
When deciding on life insurance beneficiaries, it is best to consider all possible situations. While it may become complex and it is grim to think of the future deaths of you or family members, all of these things do happen. Save your possible beneficiaries the trouble of having to dispute the distribution of benefits, and make sure to define the beneficiaries as specifically as possible.
Don’t use vague wording that may include or leave out people you don’t wish to.
You will want to make sure your benefits go to the intended recipients after your death. Try speaking with a life insurance advisor to determine how to properly designate your beneficiaries.