Guided Path 8-4 (Life) When To Get It, When To Drop It

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There’s no magical date marked on the calendar telling you when to get life insurance. So, when should you get it, and is there a time you should get rid of it? In this episode, Zacc Call and Laura Hadley discuss both when to get and when to drop life insurance. Zacc shares his journey with life insurance, starting from when he married at 22, highlighting its importance for end-of-life expenses and family support. They explore the financial implications of death, such as mortgage and income continuation for survivors, emphasizing tailored coverage. The advisors also consider when retirees might drop life insurance, noting that those with ample assets may not need it. Zacc and Laura discuss, how to time your life insurance, when to hold onto your policy, and when to let it go, what financial problems your death may create, what financial plan tweaks should happen as your life progresses, and more Resources: The Cost of Dying - Talk With The Expert Matt Russon

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[00:00:00] Welcome to the Financial Call. We are financial advisors on a mission to guide you through the financial planning everyone should have, whether you're doing it yourself or working with a financial advisor. These episodes will help you break down complicated financial topics into practical, actionable steps.

Our mission is to guide motivated people to become financially successful. Welcome to The Financial Call. This is Zacc Call. We have Laura Hadley preparing for this episode when to Get or Drop Life Insurance. Was actually one of my favorite conversations recently with Laura because she has not seen the Chevy Chase flick from 1985 Fletch.

And not only that, I had to tell her who Chevy Chase was. It was this moment of. So many mixed emotions. I was so excited to tell you who he was, and I was so disappointed at how old I am. It was a bittersweet moment. So bittersweet. I just read, to me it reads Chevy Chase, so I thought it was some truck chase, you know, old Fast and Furious movie.

I don't know. [00:01:00] And that probably just aged me the the other way. No, but if you haven't seen it. Apparently it's a good one. Have you seen it yet? No. No, you haven't watched it? I need to, I need that. It's, we need to, we need to have you and Ty over. I bet Ty hasn't seen it either. Probab, no, Ty hasn't seen any movies.

So is he not a movie guy? No, I'm, I'm converting him over to the movie life thing. Oh man. My family we're movie people. Okay. So. The premise behind that one is that Chevy Chase is an undercover detective. His name is Fletch, and he's totally unorthodox and he does, like, if you Google images of this, there's one where he basically looks like Moses in a big robe, rollerblading on the beach, and he's just hanging out with all of like the druggies on the beach to try to get intel on what's going on.

Okay. And. And the whole, it's his cover. Yes, exactly. I understand. And I don't wanna tell you too much because it is such a fantastic show. The whole premise around it has to do with a life insurance scam. There's also another [00:02:00] movie, 1944 movie Double Indemnity, which tells the story of an affair and a life insurance clause that doubles the death benefit if the insured dies of an accident or if it looks like an accident.

Exactly. So anyway, so, and oftentimes, by the way, murder is considered an accident. Like on my accidental life insurance, I actually read the policy 'cause I wanted to know like what. Here unless it comes from the beneficiary. Exactly. Is that the rule cover? Yeah, exactly. So that's exactly right. Like, but if I got murdered, then my accidental life insurance actually pays out, which is interesting.

Super weird. Yeah. But anyway, yeah, there's a quote in there. It says, yeah, I killed him. I killed him for the money and a woman. And so anyway. It's from 1944, so you can kind of get a feel for, that's hilarious. So the two movies we have Fletch in Double Indemnity. Double Indemnity. And I, I think I've seen, I can't remember if I've seen Double Indemnity, it's been a long time, but, but I've seen Fletch multiple times.

Chevy Chase is fantastic. Christmas vacation. Anyway. Okay, today's conversation win to get life insurance win to drop life insurance [00:03:00] and we're gonna start with when to get it. We'll go through, I actually have an article that I wrote a long time ago on this, and I basically shared my life story around.

Life insurance and different situations in which I added it and dropped it and should have been able to do it, but I ended up getting cancer, so now I can't. If you didn't listen to last episode. We talked about my story, and I'll do it super quick. Basically, I ended up with cancer while I had life insurance at my previous employer.

And the type of cancer that I have is not gonna kill me. Fingers crossed. And then I took a new job and I moved to Capita and couldn't take my life insurance with me. So that's the summary of what happened. And now because of that diagnosis, and I've had three surgeries over. The last 14 years. So it just doesn't look good.

And insurance companies are not willing to give me any type of reasonable life insurance, or they just straight up deny me. Oh, and by the way, something really quick, I actually don't ever apply for it. I talk to our contacts internally. Mm-Hmm. And have them. Kind of test the waters before I [00:04:00] even apply.

And the reason for this, this is kind of a little pro tip, if you apply for insurance, life insurance and get denied, that goes on your record. Hmm. Basically the other insurance companies can see that one of their competitors denied me and I don't want that. So I want to know it's gonna be approved if I'm going to ask for it.

So if you have health concerns and you think you might get denied outright. Then it makes sense to talk with somebody like us where we can actually test the waters for you a little bit, rather than just throwing a Hail Mary and hoping you get it. Yeah. 'cause you don't want to get that on your record.

Okay. The question is, what financial problems does your death create? That's really the way you decide on life insurance. And we talked about it last time, a mortgage, that's a problem if you can't pay the mortgage, but usually the biggest problem is that. Your earned income goes away. Yeah. That's the problem most people need to solve.

And so if you are married, your spouse needs to have funds to pay for your funeral. And that was, oh, look at that. It was episode [00:05:00] 46 was the one where we had Matt Russin on to talk about the cost of dying. Hmm. So the cost of a funeral, assume maybe 15 to $20,000. It'd also be nice to leave some money. For some additional expenses.

If your spouse chooses to move or needs to take some time off work for bereavement, like that could be a little bit of extra money. That could be super helpful for them. Do you have a mortgage? Talked about that one. That's a problem. So these are the problems that your death might create. Do your spouse or children need income, that's another problem.

Those are probably the big three. Yeah. Cost of dying mortgage, ongoing income. If you have a term life policy, then you have a couple of problems in that. I. Your death benefit will not climb, usually does not climb over time, and at some point in time it will stop. Your term will end and the insurance will go away.

So you gotta make sure that your insurance is long enough or that it's high enough of a death benefit that [00:06:00] you've left some headroom or wiggle room for the possibilities there. Right. Okay, go ahead. Just with the mortgage, something to point out if you have a mortgage, but when you pass, no one else is gonna need that home, or you're just gonna be living in that home.

It doesn't automatically mean that you need insurance, because if we don't need to keep that home, your beneficiaries or your executor of your estate, they're just gonna sell the home. The mortgage will be paid off when they sell the home. They'll use whatever equity is left to give to the beneficiary.

So just because you have a mortgage does not necessarily mean that you need the insurance. That's a good point. Such a good point. Like if you're the second of the couple and your spouse has already passed away, that's, that's, you're talking about that you're single. Right. Or don't have any kids. And Yeah.

If no one else is gonna live in the home, once you're gone, you don't necessarily need insurance to cover that mortgage. Sometimes people have like a sentimental value with the house that they want the kids to be able to maybe buy it off of the other kids. Mm-Hmm. That might make sense. But to your point, Laura, like if nobody's gonna live in it, no need [00:07:00] for it.

So let's go through some scenarios of when to add life insurance. So I'm reading this, this was years ago that I wrote this, but it says I'm 36 now. This is the first four to five years of my married life, and this is what I had at that time. Okay, so age 22, I got married. That was a time to add life insurance.

Age 24. Oh. And I would add it at that time because if I passed away, we were not making good income. And it would've been really, really hard for my wife to come up with any money for a funeral at that time. Yeah, but you probably didn't need. I mean, tons of insurance at that point, because Michelle was still young working.

She could have continued to work or, yeah, and the reality is we rented a town home in Farmington for $525 a month. Oh my gosh. And that was, that was our, our rent. And it was a small two bedroom, two bathroom place. Nope. Two bedroom, one bathroom place. I was gonna say two [00:08:00] bathrooms. It was one bathroom. We had, somebody gave us a big old TV console thing and the TV we had was 20 inches.

And so it was, it looked and it, your screen was 20 inches? Yes. That's hilarious. And it was, it was a box. It wasn't a flat screen uhhuh, it was like a legit box, and it had the VCR built into the bottom of it. Wow. Wow. Okay. That's where you were watching. Fletch. Exactly. okay, so age 22, we got married.

Basically all I needed was for her to have enough money to take care of a funeral. And at that point she probably would've moved back in with her parents. Yeah, she wouldn't need the rent money, she'd be fine. And then 24, we bought a town home, so we took on a mortgage and that's something that. Our mortgage at the time was $160,000.

And so that's something that we should have insured for because again, she wouldn't have had the money to do it. Should have Meaning you didn't at that point? I can't remember. Can't remember. I think we did. I, I [00:09:00] think so. I was, gosh, where was I? No, I had about 200, I think 200, $300,000 of life insurance.

Okay. I think so. We were, we had some, yeah. and then a little bit later I got a new job that same age, 24. And Michelle went part-time and we had our oldest, or we had Macy. That was a big year, but the change in my job, I added life insurance. That's the life insurance. I started to get through work and at the time I only had like $500,000 of life insurance and I kept upping it until the 1.7 total.

And when you say up it, are you getting a new policy that now has a bigger no death benefit? Are you adding more policies on top of it? Good question. With work policies, oftentimes, like through annual enrollment, they'll give you an option just to increase it, and most of the time they would do it as a multiple of income.

So instead of having five times income, I pushed it up to 10 times income, or 12 times income or something like that. That's through work. Yeah. But when you do it [00:10:00] privately, yeah, it would be a fixed policy. And if I had a $500,000 policy and wanted to add more, some insurance companies will let you just, you can ask and just say, Hey, what are the options for me?

Can I do underwriting and just increase this? But most of the time you do a new policy. And that's what I should have done. I should have gotten an independent policy from work and should have just gotten new ones to add a little bit more, which we see that all the time. Sometimes we'll talk to people and they have a really, really cost effective term life insurance policy, but they need more.

Mm-Hmm. So we'll have 'em keep the one they have because it might be better rates than what are currently available. Yeah. And then we'll just have 'em do another one to quote, add to it. Yeah. At age 26, we had twins. We moved and we bought a home. So this was during the recession, the great recession of 2009.

The twins were born in 2010, so we did not sell the town home because they went from like a. $175,000 down to [00:11:00] $90,000 in the recession. Wow. So we were underwater in terms of the amount we owed on it versus what we could have sold it for. If you, you couldn't afford to sell it, basically. Exactly. Totally couldn't 'cause you couldn't pay off the mortgage.

I would literally have had to have walked into closing with a $50,000 check and watched it evaporate to just leave the house. Yeah. It was the weirdest feeling of. Entrapment ever. Yeah. So we kept the house and we started renting it out, but we, it was so small. I mean, we didn't expect to have twins obviously, so we thought the two kids could share the bedroom.

'cause it was two bedroom, two bathroom town hall. Oh yeah. We thought the two kids, we were already having toys all over the living room and, and not enough room for storing anything. And then we ended up with three kids. So we moved and we bought a home and we converted the town home to a rental. And at that time, due to the three kids and everything we had going on, Michelle stopped working outside the home and I started to get promotions and make more money.

So that [00:12:00] was, those two years from 24 to 26 had a lot happen in them as well. Yeah. So adding the twins. That created an additional life insurance need, buying a home. So now we had a mortgage on our primary residence. We also had a mortgage on the town home. The rent from the town home, it didn't cover everything.

It did not cover the mortgage and the HOA and the utilities of the town home. So we were out a hundred, $200 every month for that too. It turned out to be a great decision to keep it. We sold it a decade later for quite a bit more than we paid for it, so it was nice. I find that with most investments, patients will make you money.

Yeah. And that's what happened there. But had I passed away during that time, now my wife would have needed income. She would need to take care of all three kids. She would need to have enough money to simplify her finances if she wanted to, where she could sell the townhouse. If she really wanted to or pay off the current mortgage at the primary residence.

That was a lot of different events and things to do. [00:13:00] Okay. Wow. Yeah. 'cause if, if something had happened to you while you were underwater on that town home, she really couldn't even afford to get rid of it. Yeah. And obviously there were people at that time that short sold and were forced into some of those situations.

We definitely didn't want. To do that if possible, which was good. We didn't have to. Yeah. Yeah, that was a tough one. Okay, so I looks like I did document. So when we first got married, we had $50,000 on each of us solving. And the reason, so this article basically has images and it's when to add life insurance, the event, the amount, and the reason the event was we got married both 22 $50,000 on each of us.

It solved for end of life expenses, moving costs, and so on. This is my favorite line of the article. Yes. We were basically babies married at age 22. I love that. Oh, I didn't see that. Yes. That's great. We were, we look back at that and think, who let those two get married? Yeah. That's crazy. It is okay, so the next one, buying the town Home mortgage of 1 65 and the event now is end of life expenses of 50,000 plus the [00:14:00] mortgage.

Of 165, and so we put approximately $200,000 on each of us. We are making about the same amount of money. Life insurance should be about 200,000 on each of us to solve for end of life expenses, pay off the mortgage. And then each of us could have kept a job and earned our own living, and the 200,000 would've really simplified life.

I mean, imagine no mortgage, being able to pay for the funerals and then having a little bit of money to kind of help get childcare figured out. And surviving spouse could have kept their job. I. Yeah. And that's something to think about as well. Maybe you are the primary breadwinner and your spouse is at home with the kids and you think, well, I have a lot of insurance, but my spouse doesn't need a lot of coverage 'cause they're not working outside of the home making an income.

But the reality is it's gonna cost you a lot to Oh yeah. Pay for that childcare. And so it's smart to have some coverage, at least for while the time that you're gonna have kids in the home that you would need that childcare. I think my wife makes a phantom income of somewhere between 200 and $500,000 a [00:15:00] year.

It feels like, oh, I'm sure. Yeah. This is off topic a little bit, but there's a video that explains the duties of a mom or a primary caregiver, and you have to be up at night and do all these things and there's no PTO and when you're sick, it doesn't matter. And it explains the roles, basically. And no one would want that job.

No one would take that job. No. And they do it for free, right? Yeah. So I do think it would cost. A couple hundred thousand dollars to hire out all of the help that my wife provides to the kids. Yeah. And to me and to the household and, okay, so the next event got the new job, Michelle's part-time had the first baby.

So at that time we got $1.2 million on me and we had 250,000 on Michelle. At that time, I was making $75,000 a year. Michelle was making 10,000 part-time and staying home with the baby more. We still wanted at least 200,000 on each of us to help with the mortgage and end of life expenses. And then I wanted to try to recreate about $50,000 of annual income, and I used multiplied by 15 to get [00:16:00] to 650,000.

That's a minimum or multiplied by 20 to 25 to be safer. Because you were still young. You had at least 20 to 25 years of working income ahead of you that you would've lost. And the reality is, if that happened, Michelle would have to change things and she would actually probably have to work full-time.

She would have needed to progress further along in either corporate America or job or earning income through self-employment or something. It would've given her at least 10 to 15 to 20 years to really build that up. Yeah, without a ton of pressure. So the next event, having twins moving, buying a home, converting the townhouse to a rental, Michelle stops working.

I started making more money. I got cancer. Michelle had a brain tumor. All of that was by age 26. That was a lot. So that's when we pushed it to about 1.7 to 2 million on me, and $350,000 on Michelle. So the reasons were we still had our $50,000 for end of life expenses and bereavement. Time off for work, $300,000 to solve for the new mortgage.

Then 1.4 to 1.6 million [00:17:00] to solve for the loss of my income multiplying by 15 to 20 or net spending by 25. So that's all of the times and reasons we added life insurance. And so you can see it's a matter of going back to the original question. What problem does my death create? Financial problem?

Obviously there's way more mental and emotional and there's a lot more to it, but obviously we're distilling this down just to the finances side of it. Right. Okay. When do you drop life insurance? We're gonna move on. So we retirees, we talk to a lot of retirees. In fact, our bread and butter is the retirement transition decision making process.

Everything that has to do with, I'm working to, I'm on autopilot in retirement. That is our world. And there's a lot that happens there. And people ask us, should I keep life insurance in retirement? And the question is, do you have enough assets to be your own life insurance? If so, you have the right and ability to just drop it.

That's it. [00:18:00] So at the beginning, your insurable need is high. Because you have a lot of people depending on you, and over time you look at like, okay, I need this much in insurance and I need to be able to have a lot of funds available to anybody if I were to pass away. But over time, that goes away. Your kids move out.

You may not. Hopefully. Oh my gosh, that's actually really scary to me. Yeah. So your kids move out. And your insurable need may go down a little bit at the same time your wealth goes up. Yeah. And at some point those things cross where the insurable need and the wealth cross, and you have enough money that you could cover all of the need.

Then you don't need to keep any insurance. In fact, a lot of people will retire and wonder if they still need life insurance. And I say, well, you have enough money to cover your income. You bought the insurance to reproduce your income, but you are reproducing [00:19:00] your income with your own assets. I think you're done.

Most of your income in retirement is coming from sources that are gonna continue your assets are still gonna be able to continue providing that income stream for your spouse. With Social Security, obviously we have a whole season on social Security, but just a reminder, the larger of the two Social Security benefits stays with the surviving spouse.

So you're gonna keep the larger of the two benefits. You will lose the smaller benefits. So let's say one spouse is getting a thousand, the other's getting. 3000, you'll lose that a thousand dollars a month benefit. So that's something to consider, but you'll keep that higher benefit if you have a pension.

Check with your spouse, see if it's gonna stay at the same rate, or if it's gonna be cut in half, or if it's gonna go away completely when that spouse dies. So those are some things to think about when talking about that insurable need. You know, what income losses are we gonna have at the time of death?

Do we have enough in assets to cover that? Perfect. Okay. So here are a couple questions. We're gonna end with this, I think. Here are some questions for you to ask [00:20:00] yourself, which will help you decide if it's time to drop insurance. So question one is, how nice do you wanna be to your kids? Some people, it might not be a math question.

They just really, really wanna give their kids a bunch of money when they pass away. And one way to accomplish that in a more efficient way is life insurance, where you may be able to take a smaller amount of cash that they would receive if they just inherited the cash and convert it into a much larger death benefit through life insurance.

So that's how nice do you wanna be to your kids? If you don't really feel like you need to leave them with much, then it might be time to drop coverage. Two, do you have a mortgage and do you have enough assets? So question three would be, do you have enough assets that your spouse's income need will be covered?

And then the next question would be, are there other parties besides your spouse that would be left in financial ruin if you die? Think about like a disabled child or just an adult child who is in need of a lot of help for whatever reason it might be life decisions they've [00:21:00] made. In those cases, it may mean that you wanna keep life insurance, but if not, then that you could probably drop it.

So lastly, don't drop permanent life insurance without a proper review of it, because there is an option to potentially sell it to a company who's willing to buy it, which is totally weird. But there are companies out there that will buy your life insurance. They will take the face value when you die, but they will give you a cash settlement for it.

I see people every once in a while that just walk away from policies or they do a surrender of the policy and just take the cash value when they could have gotten a lot more through one of these settlements. Now, most of the life insurance companies, it takes them a little bit of work to go through and determine if it's worth it, how much they'll pay for it to value it, and all of that.

So they don't like to do this for really small policies. But if it's large enough, they will pay you a reasonable amount for your life insurance. Maybe give people an estimate what's considered large that this may be worth looking into. The last time I looked into it, I think it was [00:22:00] $25,000 in a cash value uhhuh.

I think that's what it was. No death benefit. Hold on my, my grandma has one of these. And she, oh, that she sold. She wanted to. Okay. She hated it. She's since passed. She has a complex financial situation and I am one generation away. Right. Being a grandson. So every once in a while I will text people and be like, Hey, be aware of this estate planning rule that could benefit you guys.

But other than that, I try to stay very distanced from it. Yeah. Because there are 10 children and there's a lot of land and it's not easy. And so I think they're doing okay, but she passed away. Within the last year still isn't settled and organized on how all of that land gets divided up. People are great people and they're handling it really well.

But my grandma should have been more prescriptive in her wishes exactly as to how to set that up in her estate plan. Yeah. Relying on 10 people with spouses to all try to come to an agreement on what to do with [00:23:00] land that has like access points and more favorable or less favorable land pieces. Like can't really divide it up equally like you can a dollar.

So it's a little bit more difficult, but so I keep my distance from it other than if I learned some cool tax move that they might be able to take advantage of, and then I just text it over to a couple of 'em and be like, Hey, think about this. But the reason I bring that up is she had a life insurance policy that she really hated paying the premiums for, and it ended up being too small, and I think the death benefit was.

I think it was about $25,000. So I remember it being too small and I think the death benefit, I would say at least a hundred thousand dollars death benefit is probably where I would at least start to look at that with them. But I, I remember it, they even asked, like talked about some of us paying the premiums and buying it off, and I just didn't want that relationship either.

Like I didn't want to benefit from a family member's death. Yeah, that was weird. Like an investment just felt weird. Anyway, so, but a stranger. Sure. You know what I mean? [00:24:00] Like if they, if an insurance company wants to participate in that and they're willing to pay, like if an insurance company was willing to pay my grandma a decent amount of money that she could have used during her lifetime for the benefit of the insurance company or the other settlement company benefiting when she passed away.

I don't see any problem with that. I personally didn't wanna benefit from it, but I think I don't see any problem with somebody else taking that settlement. 'cause when my grandma would've had money, she could have used, she lived in this tiny, tiny little house and she owned 380 acres of land in near Star Valley or throughout Star Valley, south End of Star Valley, Wyoming.

So land rich and everything else poor could have been helpful to have some money for her, you know? Yeah. Anyway, so the point of this whole story is don't drop your permanent life insurance without considering a few options. One, if you're really trying to maximize the death benefit, we talked about this last episode, you might be able to change that policy to one where it might use the cash value.

Two, enhance the death [00:25:00] benefit, double, triple, or something more. Or two, you might be able to get a settlement for it and walk away with more than just taking the cash value out of it. That's something where you'd wanna talk to an agent or talk to an advisor, just be cautious. This area is very crowded with eager in agents to make a commission, and so I, I just, I just don't know how to say that a nicer way.

Just be careful on this one. Yeah. Interesting. So maybe just to summarize, if you are young, let's, well, overall we wanna consider the financial cost of your death. So think of it, funeral costs. Think of mortgage costs, and then think of lost income and the cost of caring for children. Maybe when you're younger with the income clause.

20 times your salary or so maybe as you're getting closer to retirement, you only need 10 years worth of income. And then as you get to that retirement stage, considering again, what is the [00:26:00] financial cost for it, you might be at a point where you're self-insured. You don't need to continue to pay those premiums.

They might be getting it more expensive anyways. You can just save those dollars. Not everybody needs insurance in retirement, but something to consider. We've met with lots of people that insurance does step in and and really saves that surviving spouse and family. Met with someone not too long ago and her spouse had a lot of medical I.

Costs and basically they drained all of their savings and retirement savings to pay for his medical care. And then he ended up passing away. So she was left with nothing, but he did have insurance. Okay? So that policy saved out and basically saved her retirement. So just something we talked about this last episode, look at it, check it off your list, review it every five to 10 years.

We're happy to sit down, review any policies you may have or policies you don't have but may need and we can talk through that with you. And I think that sums it up. Anything else? I don't just, when you're young, buy a little more than you think you need. Yeah. When you're old. You can start to get rid of it.

[00:27:00] Yeah. I mean, and maybe this is my bias because it's my experience, but I didn't expect to have to deal with cancer. Right. In my family or when you're 24, 26. Yes. I was 24. Yeah. Yeah. No, so that's something to think about. But yeah, we, you know, this is life insurance. What's next? I. Talking about two today.

Long-term care and disability. We actually have a guest coming in. Um, he's the expert in this space, so we'll sit down with him, ask him everything that we need to know about long-term care and disability insurance. And then our last episode, not only of this season, but of the guided path series, which is kind of crazy.

We'll be talking about PNC insurance, property and casualty, and umbrella policies. So we'll go through all of that. Everything else, basically, that should be insured. Perfect. Thank you. This podcast is intended for informational purpose only and is not a substitute for personal advice from Capita. This is not a recommendation offer or solicitation to buy [00:28:00] or sell Any security past performance is not indicative.

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