You've walked down the aisle. You've said your I dos. You've enjoyed your honeymoon. Now life starts settling down as Mr. and Mrs. But before you get too comfortable, let’s talk about the thing no one wants to talk about—life insurance.
It may sound a little morbid, especially considering you've just enjoyed some of the best moments of your life, but as difficult and unsettling as the topics are, death and life insurance must be addressed. Joining two lives as one presents the perfect opportunity for you and your spouse to discuss what would happen if one of you died prematurely.
You should put a plan in place, and here’s how you can do it.
Review Your Employer-Provided Life Insurance Policies to Ensure You Have Enough Coverage
The best place to start is with the insurance you receive through your employer, if you are lucky enough to have some. Now that you've experienced a qualifying event (i.e., change in marital status), you have the option to make changes to your employer-provided coverage and offerings. Both you and your spouse should make sure to take advantage of the insurance offered by your employers, especially up to the multiple of your salary level that makes up the "free" coverage. Depending on your age, gender, and health status, the cost for additional coverage beyond your employer-paid portion may be less if you purchase an individual life insurance policy outside of your employer-provided coverage.
Also, before you begin reviewing your employer-provided policies, make sure you know how much coverage you and your spouse actually need. If your company doesn't provide enough coverage—or if you just want to err on the safe side—consider supplementing your employer-provided life insurance policy.
Related reading: How to Determine the Amount of Life Insurance You Need
When you're young and in good health, purchasing life insurance can be very inexpensive. Unfortunately, waiting until you're older or have developed illnesses can make life insurance much more expensive and harder to obtain. Buying it early makes good sense!
Update Your Beneficiary Information on Your Active Life Insurance Policies
If you currently have your siblings, mother, and/or father as the beneficiaries on your life insurance policy, consider changing full or partial benefits to your spouse. Keep in mind when shopping for coverage that you will want to leave your spouse enough money to:
Pay off all mortgage obligations, auto loans, and credit card debt
Pay funeral/burial expenses
Replace your lost income
Provide for children's future educational, medical, and living expenses
Pass along an inheritance for your heirs if you desire
You also should review beneficiaries on your 401(k), pension, and similar retirement accounts to update your beneficiary designations.
Create or Review Your Will and Power of Attorney Documents
If you don't have a will or estate plan in place, you and your spouse should set aside time to create these important documents to protect your family and ensure your estate division wishes are carried out. You want to document directions for your estate now, so you don't have the state making decisions on your behalf.
If you have an existing will, estate plan, or power of attorney, make sure you update those documents to include your spouse and have him/her do the same. You'll want paperwork showing that you have the right to make decisions for each other in case either one of you becomes ill or incapacitated.
In the event that you die without updated versions of these documents on file, the uncertainty could breed conflict between your children, siblings, etc. and possibly end up in court. You will save your family a world of headaches by recording these decisions now.
While talking about death is never fun and may seem oddly timed right after the happy occasion of a wedding, now is the best time to make sure you have provided for your new family's future needs. If you spend a few hours attending to these details now, you and your new spouse can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're prepared for the unexpected.
As I stated previously, the earlier you secure life insurance, the less you'll pay. Lock in lower rates for yourself today with a life insurance quote.