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Am I Too Old for Life Insurance?

June 17, 2024

As the years pass, it's natural to reassess your financial strategy and consider whether your plans need adjustments. One question that often arises is, "Am I too old for life insurance?" For Canadians approaching (or in) their 70s, the answer is clear: life insurance can still play a crucial role in your financial planning. This article will explore the intricacies of life insurance for older adults, explaining its benefits, options, and strategic uses.

The Purpose of Life Insurance in Later Years

Life insurance provides more than just a death benefit; it can be a powerful tool for financial planning. Here are several reasons why you might consider life insurance later in life:

1. Covering Final Expenses

End-of-life expenses can be substantial. Funerals, medical bills, and other costs can quickly add up, potentially leaving your loved ones with significant financial burdens. Life insurance can ensure these expenses are covered, offering peace of mind that your family won't be left with unexpected bills.

2. Managing Debt

Many Canadians carry debt into retirement, whether it’s a mortgage, personal loans, or credit card balances. Life insurance can help ensure these debts are paid off, protecting your estate and preventing your family from inheriting financial obligations.

3. Supporting Estate Planning

Life insurance can be a strategic element in your estate planning. It can help equalize inheritances among your heirs, cover estate taxes, or provide a specific financial legacy to beneficiaries. This can be particularly useful in complex family situations or when you have significant assets.

4. Replacing Income

If you have dependents or a spouse who relies on your income, life insurance can replace this lost income, helping maintain their standard of living. This is crucial if your retirement plans include supporting a spouse, children, or even grandchildren.

5. Philanthropic Goals

Many people wish to leave a legacy beyond their family. Life insurance can facilitate charitable giving, allowing you to make a significant donation to a cause close to your heart, creating a lasting impact that might not be possible through other means.

6. Tax-Sheltering “Never Money”

Some Canadians will find, through their wealth planning process, that surplus capital exists. This is capital invested in a taxable environment which is not required to meet lifestyle goals in retirement. Properly structured life insurance, both personally and corporately, is one of the last remaining tax-shelters in Canada. It can add a layer of diversification to maximize savings, minimize tax and create a tax-free estate pipeline from your company. All without losing access to the capital if plans change and the money is needed.

Understanding Life Insurance Options for Older Adults

Several types of life insurance policies are well-suited for individuals, even for those in their 70s. Here’s a detailed look at each:

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance offers coverage for a specific period, such as 10, 20, or 30 years. It is typically more affordable than permanent life insurance, making it a good option for covering temporary needs like outstanding debts or ensuring financial support during a spouse’s remaining years. However, it’s important to note that term policies expire, and renewing or purchasing a new policy later can be costly.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance provides lifetime coverage, which means the policy remains in force as long as premiums are paid. It also includes a cash value component that grows over time, which can be borrowed against or withdrawn. This type of policy can be more expensive, but it offers the security of guaranteed coverage and potential financial benefits through its cash value, stable investment growth and consistent dividend payments. This is the type of policy often used to tax-shelter “Never Money”.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance combines lifetime coverage with an investment component, offering flexibility in premiums and death benefits. Policyholders can adjust their premiums and the amount of coverage as their financial situation changes. This adaptability makes universal life insurance a versatile tool for long-term financial planning.

Simplified Issue and Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

For those concerned about health issues, simplified issue and guaranteed issue life insurance can be attractive options. Simplified issue policies require a health questionnaire but no medical exam, while guaranteed issue policies have no medical underwriting at all. These policies can be more expensive and offer lower coverage amounts, but they provide access to life insurance for those who might otherwise be uninsurable.

Strategic Use of Life Insurance

Life insurance can serve various strategic purposes in your financial plan:

Supporting Your Loved Ones

One of the most compelling reasons for maintaining life insurance is to provide financial security for your loved ones. Whether it’s replacing lost income, covering day-to-day expenses, or ensuring that educational costs for grandchildren are met, life insurance can be a critical support system.

Enhancing Your Estate Plan

Life insurance can be used to pay estate taxes, ensuring that your heirs receive their intended inheritance without having to sell assets to cover these costs. Additionally, it can provide liquidity to your estate, making it easier to settle debts and distribute assets according to your wishes.

Structuring Guaranteed Income

The combination of an annuity, backed-up by a life insurance policy, can often maximize non-taxable income on a guaranteed basis without jeopardizing the estate value to be left to children, grandchildren or charity.

Facilitating Charitable Contributions

If you have philanthropic intentions, life insurance can enable you to leave a significant legacy. Naming a charity as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy can ensure that a substantial donation is made, supporting causes that are important to you.

If you would rather receive a charitable donation today, the gifting of an existing life insurance policy can provide tax credits up to the fair market value of your insurance policy. This applies for both term insurance and permanent insurance.

Tax Benefits

Life insurance proceeds are generally tax-free to beneficiaries, which can provide a tax-efficient way to transfer wealth. Moreover, the cash value growth in permanent life insurance policies is tax-deferred, which can be an advantageous feature in your financial plan.

To Wrap Up

Life insurance remains a relevant and valuable component of financial planning, even for those in their 70s. It offers a range of benefits, from providing financial security for loved ones and managing debt, to enhancing estate planning and supporting charitable goals.

The key is to select the right type of policy that aligns with your financial needs and goals.

For personalized advice tailored to your specific circumstances, talk to your Integrated Advisory Network Member or with a WealthCo Advisor today. Our experienced insurance advisors can help you navigate the complexities of life insurance and ensure it fits seamlessly into your broader financial strategy.


Disclaimer: The information in this newsletter is for informational and educational purposes only and is not meant to be construed as financial advise. Please consult with a qualified financial advisor before making any financial decisions.

WealthCo is a member of The Integrated Advisory Network. the Network consists of progressive CPA firms, along with best-in-class professional advisors, service, and product specialists, who work together to deliver an elevated and holistic client experience. One that optimizes both their personal and professional lives with an integrated financial strategy designed to help clients reach their goals.