Mailbag Monday: Life Insurance at 74 - Jean Chatzky - Making money make sense
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Mailbag Monday: Life Insurance at 74

photo-money-nestWhen does buying life insurance at the age of 74 make sense? We are thinking in terms of protecting our estate, but aren’t sure if we need to do that. We do have a trust.

— Evelyn

Hi Evelyn, that’s a great question. The vast majority of people do not need life insurance unless they have an income, which means many retirees should pass on this product. Getting rid of life insurance, or letting a term policy expire, is a great way to free up some cash in retirement.

It should be noted, though, that there are a few exceptions: If your spouse is dependent on a pension or annuity that will cease or decrease payments upon your death, you may want life insurance to pick up the slack. The same goes for Social Security payments that will be reduced — life insurance can step in at that point. The other scenario in which life insurance may be necessary is if you want to use it as part of an estate planning strategy, as you indicated. If you plan to pass on a large amount of money, you can use a life insurance policy to pay for estate taxes. You can also set a life insurance policy to pay into a trust as a way of passing on an inheritance.

Here’s the issue, though: Purchasing life insurance at age 74 will be extremely expensive, even if you are in good health and you’re looking at a term policy. The high premiums may not be worth it – you may be better off investing that money elsewhere. If you’re planning to go this route, I would work with a good fee-based financial advisor who focuses on estate planning to make sure you’re taking the correct approach. You can find one at


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