Life Insurance After 50

If your term life policy is ending but your needs continue, consider the cash-value alternative.

For anyone weary of writing checks to pay for life insurance, retirement used to spell relief. With the mortgage paid, the kids on their own, and Medicare and Social Security on the way, common sense suggested you could safely let your insurance expire. But now many fifty- and sixtysomethings don't have the flexibility to shorten the life of their life insurance. Life expectancies are longer, and the expenses that the death benefits were earmarked to take care of are hanging around longer, too. You may be retired, but you haven't retired your mortgage. Without a pension, your spouse may need an extra financial safety net after you die. And what if your children aren't self-sufficient?

You could buy another term insurance policy if you're healthy, but that coverage could still end before your needs disappear. If you want your insurance to last for the rest of your life -- no matter how long you live -- then signing up for a "permanent," cash-value insurance policy may make sense. In return, you get tax advantages and savings guarantees -- plus a death benefit that never expires.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.