How Much Life Insurance Does a 30-Year-Old Need?

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  • You're 30 -- not immortal. If anyone in your life relies on your income, you probably need life insurance. Even if you're single, at a minimum, you should leave your loved ones with enough money or insurance to cover your funeral costs.
  • If you have dependents, you'll need enough life insurance to provide for them after you're gone. This will likely mean a six-figure policy (or more).
  • If you have a partner but no dependents, consider getting enough insurance to cover expenses for at least a few months so your partner can cover bills, as well as grieve your loss.

Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out alive.

Your 30s are an interesting time. You're now old enough to be a grown up by just about anyone's standards -- but you're still young enough that things like retirement and old age are abstract thoughts for Future You.

And yes, that list often includes things like life insurance. After all, you survived your 20s (miraculously, in some cases). What could possibly take you out now, other than the unstoppable hands of time?

Unfortunately, the answer is: Lots of stuff. That's why, as too soon as it may seem, you very well may need good life insurance even at 30.

But, how much life insurance do you actually need? The answer depends on your personal situation. In some cases, the right amount may even be "none." For most folks, however, at least a little life insurance will make a big difference to your loved ones.

If you have dependents

Unless you're exceedingly wealthy, the one case in which you absolutely, positively need life insurance is when you have dependents.

We're not necessarily just talking about the kind of dependents you claim on your taxes, either. This could include a stay-at-home partner, children, aging family members, your best friend from college who "just needs $20," again -- you get the idea. Dependents include anyone who relies on your income to survive.

Figuring out exactly how much insurance to get when you have dependents can be complicated. It will vary based on your debts, expenses, and how you want your loved ones' lives to look after you're gone.

Do you want your stay-at-home partner to be able to continue to stay home? Then you may need a large policy with enough money to pay off your debts, as well as provide living expenses for the future. This could easily mean a policy with a payout of $500,000 or more.

At a minimum, consider getting a policy large enough to cover your debts and at least a year of living expenses. It will take some time for your spouse (or other caregivers) to adjust to life without you -- or your income -- and this can give them room to settle into the new normal.

Most life insurance companies offer easy-to-use calculators that can help you figure out how much insurance to get. Or, if you prefer more individualized attention, you can find an insurance agent who can help you not only figure out how much insurance to get, but help you find the best company to meet your needs.

If you have a partner

Another common scenario is someone who may not have children, but who has a partner with whom they cohabitate and share expenses. If that's you, then you may want to consider getting a modest life insurance policy to help your partner cover costs after the loss of your income.

Think about it this way: If you lost your job tomorrow, could you and your partner still pay all of your bills?

If the answer is no, get life insurance. Ideally, get at least enough insurance to cover any death-related costs, as well as six months (or more) or expenses. This will give them a decent emergency fund to rely on.

Even if the answer is yes -- consider life insurance anyway. For one thing, your partner will still likely be footing your funeral bills. And funerals are not cheap (they really do get us coming and going!). It will likely cost at least a few grand to take care of all of your post-life costs.

What's more, your death will probably have a pretty serious impact on your partner's mental health, at least for a little while. They will certainly appreciate having those funds to fall back on so they can take time to grieve.

Pro Tip: If you and your partner aren't legally married, you may want to set up a will, as well as financial and medical powers of attorney. This can give you similar rights to that of a married spouse.

If you're single

The point of life insurance is to financially provide for your dependents after you die. So, if you're single and have no dependents, you can potentially skip the life insurance altogether. Why pay for something if there's no one who will benefit from it? (It's not like you'll be able to use it, what with being dead and all.)

However, there are a few things to consider being deciding to forego life insurance:

Do you have pets? While not considered a dependent in legal terms, your pets will still need care if something happens to you. A life insurance policy large enough to cover their expenses for life would be a great way to help whoever agrees to take care of your pets after you're gone.

Can your savings cover your funeral costs? The last thing you want your grieving loved ones to deal with is a funeral bill. Especially when funerals can easily cost top $10,000 for the casket alone.

Do you have a mortgage? If you've purchased property and have a mortgage, consider life insurance that will pay off your mortgage loan. This can make things much easier on whoever it is you leave your property to in your will.

Death is unavoidable (so far). So it makes sense to plan for it. Even if you think you're too young to worry about it -- stuff happens. Help your loved ones deal with it (or at least throw money at it) with an appropriate life insurance policy.

Our picks for best life insurance companies

Life insurance is essential if you have people depending on you. We’ve combed through the options and developed a best-in-class list for life insurance coverage. This guide will help you find the best life insurance companies and the right type of policy for your needs. Read our free review today.

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