As we prepare to welcome 2016, it's a great time to do a look-see ahead and make sure your finances are in order. Have you done these things yet?
Shop for level-term life insurance
Buying what's called "term life insurance" is simple and costs practically no money at all. It's not uncommon for a healthy 45-year old man to get a $500,000 level term policy with a coverage period of 20 years and only pay about $50 a month. The rate never changes which is why it's called "level term."
You can comparison shop at Quotacy.com, PolicyGenius.com, 1stOptionInsurance.com, Insure.com, AccuQuote.com, or QualityTermLife.com. By shopping online, you avoid an insurance salesperson trying to up-sell you from level term coverage to whole life.
If you're not into the Internet, that's fine too. Go buy a money magazine and you'll see ad after ad of companies selling life insurance. Some respected ones I like include Amica Mutual, TIAA Cref, and even USAA.
Certain health conditions make insurance more expensive or even unavailable. If you have such a condition, you're what's known as "rated" in the industry, which means you will pay more money than the example for the 45-year-old guy.
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Get disability insurance
You're three times more likely to become disabled than die during your working lifetime. Yet people have historically been more likely to buy life insurance, not disability insurance.
I'm now recommending that you only buy your own disability insurance policy if you make north of $200,000 a year. If you make less than $200,000 like most average Earthlings, then you want to take the group disability policy through your employer.
Have a will in place
What are the odds you don't have a will? Best guess is that 50% of us don't have one. For some folks, that may be OK — especially if they're single, have nothing, and own nothing.
But if you do have kids, you need a will for the simple fact that if you don't have one, the state will decide who raises your kids.
That's the reality in the absence of any written direction from you. Ditto if you're in a different circumstance, living without the benefit of marriage. In many cases, your partner will not be considered to inherit your estate unless you put it in writing.
People automatically assume that all assets would go to their spouse upon death. But it doesn't play that way. The reality is that the law varies by state. When you die without a will, the state decides who gets what.