If retirement plan accounts (e.g., 401k, IRA) are left at your death to anyone other than a surviving U.S. citizen spouse, such accounts are subject to both income and estate taxes (if left to a surviving U.S. citizen spouse then only income taxes are payable). You can also leave your accounts to a nonprofit organization, free of income and estate taxes. Ask your financial advisor or accountant for more information.
Life Insurance Plans
Why is life insurance important?
Life insurance can be an important asset for everyone, especially someone with Alzheimer’s disease. The long-term costs of health care and nursing care can quickly make a dent in a family’s savings and may lead to financial suffering. Life insurance can help protect your finances for your heirs after your passing, or it can be cashed in to pay for your medical and care expenses if you have a life-threatening illness, like Alzheimer’s.
Even if you are not at risk for Alzheimer’s, life insurance can cover the big expenses after you pass away, like a funeral or memorial, lawyer fees, estate taxes, etc. This means that your family will not need to pay for these services out of their own pockets. Make sure you keep your beneficiary designations up to date so the money goes to the people you select.
Where can I get life insurance?
In many cases, term life insurance is offered as an employee group benefit by your employer. When purchased as a group benefit, the cost is generally much lower and requires less medical information for enrollment than when it is purchased by an individual.
Life insurance can also be purchased from independent insurance companies. It is wise to work with a company you know well and trust, or to find an independent insurance broker that does not work for only one company and can give you a variety of quotes. Make sure you review and understand the summary of any plan you are thinking of purchasing.
How much does life insurance cost?
Depending upon your age and health status at the time of purchase, the cost of life insurance can vary widely. The amount of coverage you purchase will also factor into the price you pay, so make sure you compare policies before you settle on one.
How much life insurance do I need?
The amount of life insurance you will need depends on the amount of money your family will need after your death (for funeral expenses, lawyers fees, debts, mortgage balances, etc.) and how much money your spouse or heirs will need after your passing in order to maintain their standard of living. Also think about your existing resources, such as savings accounts, investment assets, real estate and other assets you already have. The amount of life insurance you need can get complicated, so you will definitely benefit from meeting with a qualified, independent insurance professional.
Can life insurance benefit me while I am still living?
If you are diagnosed with a serious health problem, such as Alzheimer’s, you should contact your life insurance company and ask about accelerated living benefits or “viatical settlements”. Essentially, you are selling your life insurance back to the company or to a third party broker for a percentage of the face value of the plan, but usually not the entire face value, and you are getting the benefits before your death. Each state has its own regulations regarding viatical settlements and death benefits, so make sure you contact your state insurance regulator before taking any settlement.
Settlement money can be used to pay your immediate expenses. Keep in mind that if you cash out your life insurance, the policy is gone and therefore will not be available to your heirs after your passing.