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How insurance factors into estate planning

The process of putting together an estate plan involves a number of important steps. It can feel overwhelming, and it is not uncommon for Oklahoma residents to "miss" certain elements of that process. One of the most commonly overlooked or misunderstood aspects of estate planning involves life insurance and the role that it plays within the overall planning process.

Not every individual needs life insurance, but many people can use this tool to make life easier for loved ones who will be left behind. This is especially true for families that have children within the home, or where one spouse stays home with the kids while the other works outside of the home. In any case where the family's finances rely upon the income of one or both spouse, life insurance is a good choice.

When determining the necessary coverage, families should sit down together and review their current needs. This means gathering information about the total level of debt, both secured and unsecured, and looking at what is needed to support the current lifestyle. It is important to include savings, emergency funds and other expenses that are not immediately obvious. Couples should also include projected expenses, such as higher education costs or medical needs.

Once an Oklahoma couple has a firm understanding of their financial standing, it is possible to shop for life insurance that will replace the income of either spouse. In cases in which one spouse stays home with the children, it is important to buy coverage for that person as well. In the event of death, the responsibilities handled by a stay-at-home parent would have to be transferred to others, which can be expensive. When considering life insurance needs during estate planning, there is no such thing as too much attention to detail.

Source: USA Today, "5 ways couples can tackle estate planning now", Barbara Marquand, Nov. 14, 2015

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