Life Insurance Planning for a Single Parent

Becoming a parentIf you are single with children who depend on you, life insurance can help you provide for their needs into the future. In the event of your untimely death, a life insurance policy can help provide for their basic living needs, education and more. If you are divorced be sure to seek guidance from an attorney before buying or changing life insurance coverage, so that you can be sure to act within the guidelines of your divorce agreement.

How much insurance is enough

When trying to decide how much insurance to get, try to anticipate the expenses that would be required by your children until an age at which they can support themselves. The USDA estimates the cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 — not including higher education — exceeds $250,000 over the lifetime of the child.1

While many financial planning experts recommend carrying a life insurance policy worth 6 to 10 times your annual income, a good online insurance needs estimator can help you determine the appropriate amount for your specific situation.

Choose your beneficiary wisely

Before naming your child(ren) as beneficiary, you should know that in many states minor children cannot take control of money paid out by a life insurance policy. For that reason, it is usually more appropriate to name the adult who would care for your children after your passing as the beneficiary — presumably the other parent or a designated guardian.

In the absence of a trustworthy adult to name as beneficiary, you may want to talk with an estate planning attorney about setting up a trust. You can name your trust as beneficiary to ensure that the proceeds from your life insurance policy provide the greatest benefit to your children.

Include the other parent in the process

If you are divorced, it's possible that you and your former spouse were ordered by the judge to have life insurance. If not, and If you are still in contact with the other parent, urge him or her to carry insurance to help provide for the child(ren)’s future too. You don’t need to provide specific details about your insurance; however, it is reasonable for you to suggest an amount of protection the children might need based on the research you have done.

Raising children as a single parent is not easy. By taking proper steps to help provide for your children’s future, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing they will be taken care of in the event of your untimely death.

1 Estimate per USDA Cost of Raising a Child Calculator

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