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How much life insurance do I need?

Life Insurance
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Good question! And not an easy one to answer. Special circumstances, such as pre-existing medical conditions or tax-efficient estate planning, can significantly complicate the question of how much life insurance you need. The insurance industry itself throws out many different formulas. For this series, we're going to boil life insurance down to its most basic purpose: replacing your annual income until the age you would have retired. Figuring out needs from this angle will do the trick for most people.

Start with your current annual before-tax salary (see What factors might supplement replacement income? if you don't earn