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A guide to life insurance for newlyweds & married couples

What we'll cover

  • Life insurance policy options for couples

  • Benefits of having life insurance once you are married

  • How much life insurance you need

You've tied the knot, and now you're ready to embark on your new life as a married couple. Once you've returned from your honeymoon, you may think settling into happily ever after is the only thing left on your to-do list.

But in addition to sending out thank you cards and enjoying all those new home gadgets from your registry, you should also turn your attention to an important practical matter — life insurance.

Whether or not you and your spouse already have individual life insurance policies, the beginning of a marriage is an ideal time to evaluate your needs and make adjustments to your plans and policies, including life insurance.

Whether or not you and your spouse already have individual life insurance policies, the beginning of a marriage is an ideal time to evaluate your needs and make adjustments to your plans and policies, including life insurance.

Why marriage is an ideal time to buy life insurance

In addition to being legally bound, you and your spouse now share an insurable interest. Translation: You depend on each other and would suffer hardship if the other passes away. Life insurance can help your spouse pay the mortgage, fund their retirement, afford daily expenses and more, in your absence.

If you have (or plan to have) children, life insurance becomes even more important to provide for their needs as well, including college expenses. And while it's never too late to implement this important safeguard for your loved ones, life insurance becomes more expensive as you age, so buying it as early as possible is advantageous.

Should married couples share life insurance policies?

Both you and your spouse should have life insurance, but the question of a joint policy or separate policies depends on your personal finances. Separate policies are more common and therefore more plentiful. Joint policies have some tax benefits for couples with higher incomes. However, they aren't as popular as separate policies, so you may have a harder time finding one. And ultimately, the right policy type for you and your spouse will come down to your individual circumstances.

Joint life insurance policies

While joint coverage is typically less expensive, if one spouse has health issues, it could actually cost more than individual policies. Typically, shared policies are more common among couples with higher net worth because it can lessen the tax burden on their beneficiaries. In general, joint policies offer one of two options — either a first-to-die policy, which pays out when the first spouse dies, or a second-to-die policy, which pays out when both parties pass away.

If your spouse will be a beneficiary, a first-to die policy might be a good option because it ensures they will receive a payout upon your death. Because second-to-die policies do not pay out until both parties die, they are most commonly utilized to benefit extended family members, such as children, grandchildren or other relatives.

Separate life insurance policies

Separate policies can be more plentiful and popular for a few reasons. First, separate policies are more easily customized to each person's contributions and needs. For example, if your income contributes more to household expenses, your policy can reflect that to ensure the same lifestyle your spouse is accustomed to should you pass away.

Separate policies can also open up options for the kind of policy you might choose. And in the event of divorce, separate life insurance policies eliminate the problem of adjudicating a joint policy.

How much life insurance should a married couple have?

Finding the right-sized policy for you and your spouse will depend on your goals for life insurance. Do you simply need to ensure the basics (housing, utilities and other fundamental living expenses) are covered should one of you die? Or do you want your policy to provide for extras like travel and hobbies?

To determine exactly how much life insurance you and your spouse need, a common guideline may be to purchase a policy worth 10 times your income. Bear in mind, this figure might be a good starting place, but be sure to also factor in your overall debts and how much you have in savings, too. And if you and your spouse already have children or plan to, another popular calculation to consider is the DIME (debt, income, mortgage and education) method, which includes higher education expenses for dependents.

Begin married life with confidence

The honeymoon phase is filled with exciting hopes and plans for your shared future together. You may be purchasing your first home together or starting a family, but by considering purchasing life insurance at this critical juncture, you could help ensure your beloved's financial security for all the years to come.

Ally Insurance recommends  Ladder  to bring you an innovative approach to term life insurance with an easy online application process and a variety of coverage options to fit a wide range of needs.

Disclosures: Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (CA license # OK22568; AR license # 3000140372) distributes term life insurance products issued by multiple insurers – for further details see . All insurance products are governed by the terms set forth in the applicable insurance policy. Each insurer has financial responsibility for its own products.

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