Just about everyone knows that death and taxes are unavoidable. For these two reasons, you might need life insurance. Like a Swiss Army knife, life insurance can do a lot. There are several reasons you might want to consider purchasing life insurance…

You love someone: You can use life insurance to create an estate. Here, you want the people who matter a great deal to you such as your spouse and children to be financially secure if you are not around to make it happen. The purpose of life insurance in this situation is to act as a financial safety net. 

You owe someone: Because of the guaranteed death benefit, life insurance can be very helpful when it comes to paying off debts and dealing with taxes owed. For instance, at a certain level of wealth, inheritance taxes kick in, and life insurance is often used so the family doesn’t have to deplete the estate. 

“Successful and wealthier people often turn to life insurance as a way to cover estate taxes,” says Vince Annable, CEO and Founder of VFO Advisory Group and co-author of Your High-Performing Virtual Family Office: Maximizing Your Financial and Personal Lives. “For just about everyone and especially the very wealthy, properly structured life insurance can be a cost-effective solution to estate taxes. Also, there are various ways people can pay for life insurance including using pre-tax dollars.”

You have a strategic need for life insurance: There are several powerful uses in business situations for life insurance. Many entrepreneurs can leverage life insurance to pay executive benefits or significantly enhance the amount of money they have in retirement.  You might find that buying life insurance for mission-critical business purposes—for example, to provide funds needed to replace a key employee or to buy out a partner’s heir—makes good sense.

“There are a wide variety of ways to use life insurance to address personal goals,” says P.J. DiNuzzo, Founder and Lead Consultant of DiNuzzo Middle-Market Family Office and author of the Wall Street Journal bestselling book, The DiNuzzo Middle-Market Family Office™ Breakthrough: Creating Strategic Tax, Risk Cash-Flow and Lifestyle Options for Successful Privately-Held Business Owners and Affluent Families. “For example, you can use life insurance to create greater personal wealth directly by leveraging a policy’s investment account. Also, some people find that life insurance is a very effective way to support the causes that matter to them.”

Making a decision: These three motivations can, and often do, interrelate. Most financial concerns don’t exist in a vacuum. While there are many reasons buying life insurance might make sense, you have to be very clear on just what your reasons are. If you determine that purchasing life insurance will be worthwhile, you still have to decide on the right amount of life insurance and structure it properly given your goals

"All too often life insurance is oversold resulting in people buying the wrong policies as well as an excessive amount,” says Homer Smith, Managing Founder of Konvergent Wealth Partners, and co-author of Optimizing the Financial Lives of Clients: Harness the Power of an Accounting Firm’s Elite Wealth Management Practice. “What’s important is for each person to make sure he or she is getting the best results possible which means buying the right amount of life insurance in the best way possible. For most people, the only way to be confident they’re getting the right amount of life insurance, using the best policies for their agendas, and not overpaying is to rely on the professionals they trust most which are usually their accountants and attorneys.”

According to Justin Breen, the driving force behind the exclusive BrEpic Network and co-author of Superior Results: Maximizing the Value of Your High-Performing Family Office Just Like the Super-Rich, “Aside from getting guidance from professionals, you always need to know what you’re buying. You want to make sure you understand the various available options. This includes possible alternatives to buying life insurance. Being involved and assertive is often a necessity. This will help ensure you make well-informed decisions.”  

Russ Alan Prince is the executive director of Private Wealth magazine and chief content officer for High-Net-Worth Genius. He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs and select professionals.