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By bruners33618, Aug 1 2017 02:23PM

Term vs. whole life insurance: Which is best for you?

Life insurance FBN(Courtney Keating)

Term life and whole life are two popular variations of life insurance policies. While the basic idea of providing much-needed cash in the event of your death is the same, there are some big differences between the costs and benefits of each one. Here's a rundown of both varieties, so you can make the best decision for your family.

Term life insurance is the lower-cost option

Term life insurance is perhaps the purest way to protect your loved ones in the event that you die prematurely.

In a nutshell, when you buy a term life insurance policy, the period of protection is temporary (10, 20, and 30 years are most common). After the initial term runs out, policyholders have the option to renew, but by that point, the renewal rate is often prohibitively expensive.

Term life insurance policies don't accumulate any cash value. Simply put, if you die while the policy is active, the policy's beneficiaries collect the death benefit. If not, the policy expires, and the life insurer has no further obligation to you. For this reason, term life insurance is significantly cheaper than whole life insurance.

In most term life policies, the premium stays the same for the initial term, known as level premium, and the death benefit remains the same. In addition, there are other variations of term life policies, such as decreasing term insurance, under which premiums remain the same, but the death benefit is reduced every year. This can be a smart way to protect against your heirs' need to repay large debts, such as a mortgage, and is often known as "credit life." In other words, since your mortgage balance typically declines every year, the need to insure against the debt also declines.

Regardless of what form it takes, term life insurance is a cost-effective way of meeting a temporary insurance need. For example, I have a term life policy that's designed to replace my income for my family. In 20 years, when it expires, I'll be 55, my kids will (hopefully) be out of the house, and I'll have relatively few years of income that would need to be replaced.

Whole life can offer lifelong protection but at a higher price

As the name implies, whole life insurance is designed to protect you for your entire life. Premiums are significantly higher than term life policies, not only to compensate for the higher mortality risk in your later years, but because whole life policies accumulate cash value over time. Since whole life policies build cash value, they can be included in retirement planning , and one big advantage is the ability to borrow against the policy.

The purest form of whole life insurance is known as traditional ordinary life, or straight life. These policies have a fixed premium that's guaranteed until age 100, at which point the cash value of the policy will equal the death benefit. If the insured is still alive at 100, this amount is paid to the policyholder.

In addition, there are several other varieties, which include (just to name a few):

Limited pay -- Premiums are only paid for a certain amount of time, such as for 20 years or until age 65. Premiums will be higher since you're paying for a limited time.

Single pay -- Instead of paying monthly or annual premiums, a single lump-sum premium is paid at the policy's inception.

Graded premium -- Premiums gradually increase over a certain time period.

Adjustable life -- Death benefit or premiums may be modified over time.

Whole life policies are good for a permanent insurance need. For example, if you'd like to leave your heirs $500,000 whenever you pass away, a whole life policy can allow you to ensure that will happen. Whole life can also be useful as a savings vehicle that can be borrowed against if necessary.

Which is best for you?

It depends on your personal situation and goals. As I mentioned, I use term life insurance. I prefer to keep my premiums low and invest the majority of my extra money. The idea is that by the time my term life policy runs out, my retirement accounts and other investments will be built up to the point where the death benefit is no longer necessary. Plus, my primary insurance goal is to protect my wife and children during my working years.

On the other hand, if you want insurance that doesn't expire, and the idea of building up cash equity is more appealing to you than simply "renting" a life insurance policy, whole life could be the best option for you.

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By bruners33618, Aug 1 2017 02:11PM

Aging in Place: Does It Make Sense to Plan to Stay at Home?

It’s a common choice to stay in your own home through the later years of life. But does it make sense to age in place, or is assisted living a better option?

According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to more than double by 2060 to over 98 million people. This Silver Tsunami, as it’s been called, brings with it an entire set of challenges, like where older Americans want to spend the last years of their lives. For some, the answer is to age in place – stay in their own homes.

Aging in place is a choice that many older Americans are making, because it’s not only more comfortable, but it seems to make financial sense. However, it’s wise to look at both options – aging in place and moving to an assisted living facility – before making any decisions.

Comparing Options

At first glance, aging in place seems to make the most sense. You stay in your own home, with a few modifications, and continue life as it’s always been. Depending on your current home, however, those modifications can be much more costly than expected. Alert-1 estimates the average annual cost for an assisted living facility in the United States is around $42,600 per year, but the actual cost can fluctuate to more than $100,000 per year, depending on the state you live in.

For example, many homecare agencies charge $25-$35 per hour to assist you. At those rates, it doesn’t take very long for in-home care costs to soar higher than the cost of staying in an assisted living community. A typical assisted living community in the Seattle area, for instance, averages $150-160 per day.

Three Tips for Finding a Certified Aging in Place Specialist

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has created special educational requirements for builders who are capable of building or remodeling homes with mature adults in mind. Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) may be homebuilders, remodelers or even healthcare workers who are dedicated to helping you remain in a familiar environment during the later years of your life. To find the right CAPS professional, here are three tips to remember:

Use the NAHB’s list of CAPS professionals. CAPS professionals have been trained in the unique needs of older adults through a partnership the NAHB created with several other organizations, including the AARP. Graduates of the CAPS program are listed on the NAHB website.

Ask lots of questions. A CAPS professional will not only look at your home and recommend changes, but they can also address your concerns about aging in place. Ask questions about upgrades, renovations and even professionals who specialize in helping you maintain your lifestyle.

Find a CAPS professional who fits your style. It’s important to seek out the right person to help you plan for your later years. Spend time with a CAPS professional, and if you find your personalities clash, don’t be afraid to find someone else. It’s your future; be comfortable with the person who will help you design it.

Alternatively, aging in place means making changes to the structure of your existing home. In addition, it’s important to consider the cost of having a homecare agency come in later on to help you if, say, you can’t move around your house easily.

To prepare your home for the aging process, you can make some simple and fairly inexpensive changes, including:

Installing grab bars and supports: $100-$300;

Installing lever door handles: $150-$450;

Building a ramp: $1,200-$2,500;

Installing a curbless, modular shower: $2,000-$15,000 or more;

Widening doorways and corridors: $500-$20,000;

Lowering cabinets and sinks: $10,000-$15,000.

You will not need all of these changes, which is why it’s important to consider hiring a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) to help determine which changes you should make.

There are also other costs to consider when looking at aging in place. For example, if in-home care is needed, the average cost can range between $980 and $3,800 per month. The amount depends on whether you need basic assistance with bathing and household chores, or whether you need skilled nursing professionals to visit regularly.

In some cases, insurance will help pay for in-home care expenses. The real difference, then, is in the one-time expense of upgrading your home to allow you to be as comfortable, and independent, as possible.

When and Where to Start

If aging in place is your choice, then it helps to understand the best ways to get started. An article in the Washington Post points out that most Americans begin making necessary changes well before they turn 65. Some make simple changes, like swapping out round door knobs for levered door handles and installing mobility-friendly showers, while others choose to build or purchase a home that already has these improvements.

The key is to start small. Adjustments like comfort height toilets, under-cabinet lighting and roll-out shelving are small expenditures that will mean less stress on your body and more convenience both now and in the future. Then, as funds allow, you can strive for the larger, more expensive renovations like widening doorways, installing a lift or elevator and even investing in technologies like robots and voice-activated home controls.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to making home improvements that will allow you stay in your own home as long as possible. The key to making aging in place affordable is to start as soon as possible and make incremental changes. Don’t wait until there is an accident or health issue that makes the changes a pressing requirement.

By bruners33618, Jun 26 2017 08:03PM

Medicare has temporarily changed

Each year, thousands of Americans miss their deadline to enroll in Medicare, and federal officials and consumer advocates worry that many of them mistakenly think they don’t need to sign up because they have purchased insurance on the health law’s marketplaces. That decision can leave them facing a lifetime of enrollment penalties.

Now Medicare has temporarily changed its rules to offer a reprieve from penalties for people who kept Affordable Care Act policies after becoming eligible for Medicare.

Those who qualify include people 65 and older who have a marketplace plan or had one they lost or canceled, as well as people who have qualified for Medicare due to a disability but chose to use marketplace plans.

They have until Sept. 30 to request a waiver of the usual penalty Medicare assesses when people delay signing up for Medicare’s Part B.. Medicare beneficiaries who already pay the penalty because they had a marketplace plan can request that it be eliminated or reduced.

Medicare also imposes a waiting period for coverage on people who do not sign up when first eligible. If they meet the waiver requirements, they now can request that be lifted.

For information on how to apply for the waiver, officially called “time-limited equitable relief,” go to the Medicare Rights Center’s Medicare Interactive

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By bruners33618, Mar 2 2017 08:42PM

3 things that will drive your life insurance premiums through the roof

What you'll pay for a life insurance policy can vary dramatically; men pay higher premiums than women, older policyholders pay more than younger ones and smokers pay more than non-smokers.

But just how much does your age, gender or smoking habit cost you? evaluated life insurance premiums for the top 25 carriers in the nation to find out.

Men pay an average of 38% more than women for the same coverage.

Here's one area where women have a financial edge. Men are at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, various cancers and accidental injuries and that makes them more risky to insurers. The average life expectancy of an American man is also five years younger than a woman's, meaning an insurer is more likely to pay out on a man's policy than a woman's.

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Smokers pay more than three times as much as non-smokers for the same policy.

Insurers can charge smokers three times as much as non-smokers, found.

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A non-smoking 45-year-old woman, for example, pays $45 a month for a $500,000 term life policy. If she smokes, however, the premium shoots up to $167 a month. That's $1,462 more a year.

If you can kick the habit, however, you can save big. Tell your insurer that you've been smoke-free for two years and they will usually lower your premium to the rate for non-smokers, said Laura Adams, an analyst for

"That's pretty generous," said Adams. "It's almost like you never smoked."

Related: Why you don't need to buy extra rental car insurance

But don't tell your insurer that if it's not true. If you do die of a smoking-related cause and your insurer finds out you never quit, they can deny the benefit entirely.

Get coverage young and save -- but only if you need it

Most people don't feel the need to buy life insurance until they have a child. And in general, that's a pretty good rule of thumb.

If you have children in your 20s or early 30s you could save significantly on premiums by opening a policy while you're young.

Premiums for 35 year olds cost about 27% more than those for a 25 year old.

"Term life [policies are] popular because they're relatively inexpensive and people don't need policies for their entire life," said Adams. Many parents buy 20-year term policies to see their children through their college years.

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