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What Is Life Insurance?

Life insurance is a lump sum paid to your beneficiaries upon your death. It covers expenses such as debt, funeral costs, and income replacement.

Choosing a policy depends on your needs and priorities. Consider your goals and compare quotes from reputable companies with good third-party ratings to get started. Click the to learn more.

Life insurance gives you peace of mind in knowing that, in the event of your death, your loved ones will receive a lump sum of money to help pay for funeral expenses, everyday bills, lost income, debts, child or college tuition, and other costs. It also can be used for estate planning and legacy funds.

Depending on your needs, you can choose from different types of policies. Some, such as term life, provide coverage for a specific period. Others, like whole and universal life, offer permanent coverage. Finally, some whole life policies have a cash value component that may grow over time.

When deciding how much coverage you need, consider all of your current and future financial obligations. You might want to include your mortgage, children’s college education and other large expenses. You can calculate how much coverage you need by adding up all these costs and subtracting your other savings and existing life insurance.

Many people purchase life insurance to cover end-of-life expenses such as funeral costs. Another option is final expense insurance, which generally has a lower death benefit and requires no medical exam. Lastly, some people buy life insurance for business purposes, such as key person life insurance or buying an accidental death rider.

Once you decide on the type of life insurance you want, you can start a formal application. You will need to answer a series of questions and submit a medical history form or records, which can be done at your home or office. Some insurers use “accelerated underwriting,” which skips the medical exam and approves applicants with some health information gathered from third parties. Other companies use a traditional process with medical exams and a waiting period.


A life insurance policy requires premiums, which are the regular payments made to keep it active. The premiums help the insurer cover outstanding liabilities, and ensure beneficiaries receive the payouts they are owed upon the death of the policyholder. Some life insurance companies also use some of the premiums for operating expenses such as salaries, office space and other business fees.

Premiums are typically not tax-deductible, and the amount you pay depends on a number of factors, including your age, health, lifestyle and policy type. For example, young people pay less than older adults because they have a lower mortality risk. Your family’s medical history and dangerous jobs or hobbies can also impact your life insurance rate. Additionally, smoking is a major factor that may lead to higher rates.

Many life insurance policies offer a variety of options and riders that allow you to customize your coverage. For instance, you can add a waiver of premium feature to your policy in case you become terminally ill. This can reduce your out-of-pocket costs and protect against financial hardship for your loved ones.

Other factors that can affect the premium cost include the type of policy you choose (term versus permanent) and the death benefit amount. A larger death benefit will usually require a higher premium than a smaller one. Finally, some types of permanent life insurance allow you to use the accumulated cash value to cover your premiums, eliminating out-of-pocket payments. Talk to a representative to learn more about the specifics of life insurance premiums and what options might be best for your unique situation. They can also provide guidance on the best way to maximize your benefits while keeping your life insurance cost within budget.


Life insurance policies usually have a maturity date, which is the expected end date of the policy. The maturity date may be when the insured person reaches a certain age, or it could be when they reach what is called their “natural life expectancy” according to the Commissioners Standard Ordinary (CSO) mortality tables used when the policy was underwritten.

When a life insurance policy reaches its maturity, the insurer distributes the policy’s cash value to the policyowner, or in some cases, it may be transferred to another person. This money can be used to pay for a variety of expenses, such as funeral costs, debts, estate taxes and ongoing living expenses. In some cases, the money can be used as collateral for a loan or for investing in securities.

Whole life insurance is expensive, but it offers permanent coverage and premiums that never increase, regardless of health or age. It also builds up a cash value over time, which can be accessed by the policyowner during its lifetime.

The problem with whole life insurance is that many of these policies are scheduled to mature when the insured reaches age 100. This can leave the policyholder (and their heirs) with nothing, despite decades of paying into the policy.

A common solution to this problem is the addition of a Maturity Extension Rider, which allows the policyholder to extend their coverage past the natural life expectancy for their age group. However, these riders must be elected years in advance and typically cost extra. This is why it’s important to understand your policy’s maturity date before it reaches that point.

Death Benefits

The death benefit is the payout your beneficiaries will receive if you die during the term of your life insurance policy. This is the main reason why people buy life insurance, to provide financial security for their loved ones in case of their death. It’s important to carefully consider who you want to name as your beneficiaries and review them periodically, especially after major life events like getting married or having a child.

The most common way for a beneficiary to receive the death benefit is in a lump sum. This is usually paid by check or deposited directly into their bank account electronically. Beneficiaries also have the option to choose a lifetime annuity, which will pay them regular installments until the death benefit is depleted or their life ends. This option can be a good choice for beneficiaries who may need income from their life insurance beyond the lump-sum payment.

Alternatively, beneficiaries can choose to leave the death benefit with the insurer in a retained asset account and receive interest payments on it, similar to an investment account. This option can be useful for beneficiaries who need income from their life insurance beyond the lump-sum payout, but want to avoid taxes.

If the death benefit is left to a non-spouse beneficiary or to a charity, it’s a good idea to set up a trust so that the proceeds aren’t subject to estate taxes or the need to go through probate. This will also help keep the death benefits away from the control of unintended beneficiaries, such as creditors or other family members.

The size of your death benefit depends on the amount you chose for the policy and the type of life insurance you bought. Some policies have a fixed death benefit, while others allow you to increase it for an additional cost.


Most of the time, beneficiaries don’t have to pay taxes on life insurance proceeds. But there are some situations where they might have to. For example, if they receive a lump sum death benefit that was earned after a period of interest accumulation (rather than immediately upon the policyholder’s death), they might have to pay taxes on the interest that has accumulated.

Some whole life policies include a portion of each premium that goes into a cash value account, which grows over the course of the policy. The insurer may also provide a cash value loan to the policyholder. Cash withdrawals from a life insurance policy are generally tax-free, as long as the amount you take out doesn’t exceed your cumulative premium payments. But if you borrow against your cash value and don’t repay it, the balance will be taxed.

If your employer pays the premiums for your group life insurance policy, you might be paying taxes on those premiums. If the policy is worth more than $50,000 and your employer subsidizes some or all of it, the IRS might consider it part of your compensation.

If you want to change the owner of your life insurance policy, you will need to fill out a transfer of ownership form and call your insurer for an assignment of premium form. This is a complex issue, so it’s best to consult a licensed financial professional or tax advisor before you do so. You’ll receive a 1099-R form when you incur a taxable event, like a surrender or lapse of the policy, and a 1099-INT when you get taxable income, such as dividends or interest on death claims.

What Is a Realtor?

Real estate agents can help you buy and sell homes, apartments, condos or commercial properties. Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors who follow a strict code of ethics and advocate for homeownership across the country.


It’s a good idea to ask friends and family for referrals and interview several candidates before hiring one. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing Savannah Area Realtor:

A Realtor is a licensed real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Those who are members must adhere to NAR’s Code of Ethics, which is slightly different from the codes that most state real estate commissions have. In addition to adherence to the Code of Ethics, membership in NAR also allows Realtors to access a variety of business services that aren’t available to non-members.

Local Realtor associations are often called “Boards of REALTORS(r)” or “Associations of REALTORS(r)”. Joining a local organization will provide you with multiple member benefits and advocacy resources. Additionally, joining a local BOR or Association will help you connect with other real estate professionals in your area, which can be beneficial for networking and establishing relationships in the industry.

The NAR has several different levels of membership. Those who are members of the NAR receive representation at local, state and federal levels in the form of lobbying, meetings with legislators, conferences and more. They also have access to a wide range of real estate education and professional development opportunities.

NAR is one of the largest trade associations in the world, with over 1.3 million members across the country. Its members include brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers and counselors. In addition to representing their clients’ interests, NAR also advocates for homeownership and maintains reasonable credit standards.

Real estate professionals who are members of the NAR must also belong to a local board or association. The local association will determine whether they meet the qualifications for membership, which is usually based on their number of years in the business and whether they are active in the real estate profession. A broker or salesperson must have a principal/designated broker who is a member of the local association.

If a real estate agent or broker does not meet the requirements for membership in the NAR, they may still join as an Institute Affiliate Member. This type of membership is for individuals who are affiliated with the real estate profession but do not hold a license to practice as a realtor. An individual who wants to be an Institute Affiliate Member must meet certain criteria, including having a CCIM, SIOR or CPM designation.


In order to work as a real estate agent or broker, you must be licensed by your state’s real estate regulatory agency. The requirements for licensing vary by state, and you can find them by performing an Internet search for “[state name] real estate.” In general, you will have to take pre-licensing courses and pass a state real estate exam. The exams are typically computerized and consist of two parts: a national portion covering general real estate principles and practices, and a state-specific section on laws, regulations, and policies governing the practice of real estate in your specific state. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions, and you must pass both parts to become a licensed real estate salesperson. Typically, you can take the exam as many times as you want within a two-year period, and retakes are free if you fail one part of the exam.

If you choose to pursue a license, you should look for a reputable online or in-person school that offers New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) approved pre-licensing classes. You should also consider purchasing a real estate exam prep product, which will help you prepare for the state exam and increase your chances of passing it. Many of these products are available for as little as $99. You will also need to pay license application fees and undergo a background check. Some states also require that you have errors and omissions insurance, which you can purchase from your brokerage.

Real estate agents must also be members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR membership opens up networking and leadership opportunities at local NAR boards, and allows you to use the “Realtor” trademark on your marketing materials. Moreover, NAR’s Code of Ethics requires real estate professionals to follow ethical guidelines and promote the best interests of their clients.

After working as a real estate agent for several years, you can apply to become a licensed real estate broker. This involves taking additional pre-licensing courses and passing a state broker exam. Once you are a licensed broker, you can use the “Realtor” trademark on all your marketing materials and business cards. In addition, you can join your local NAR board to access the MLS and open up additional business opportunities.


A career as a real estate agent is one of the most popular choices for people looking to make money. It requires a series of trainings and a licensing exam. In addition, you need to follow the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics and pay a one-time membership fee and annual fees. A licensed real estate professional also has the option of earning additional certifications and designations to further their expertise. These programs range from land consulting to commercial investment, and you can find a complete breakdown of options on the NAR website.

The requirements for becoming a real estate agent vary by state, but all states require you to take pre-licensing classes and pass a state exam. These classes are usually offered by a college, university or real estate school. The courses cover topics such as real estate law, property management and the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Some of the states also have a minimum score you must get to pass the test. If you fail the first time, there are often retake options available.

Some agents choose to attend a college to get their degree, which can help them become more attractive to brokerage firms. A degree can also give you a better understanding of the business and improve your chances of passing the exam. Popular majors include marketing, finance and accounting.

Once you have a license, it’s important to keep up with your continuing education requirements. You can usually find out your state’s required CE hours by contacting your local real estate board or broker. You can also take online continuing education courses to meet your state’s requirements.

Some agents opt to pursue a master’s degree in real estate to get a more competitive edge. These programs usually last two years and provide a broad overview of the real estate industry, including law and finance. Some large real estate firms also offer financial aid to employees who are pursuing master’s degrees. This is particularly true if the employee is planning to become a managing broker and is responsible for supervising other agents.


A Realtor is a real estate agent who has chosen to become a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). A NAR membership can provide you with access to industry resources and a network of professionals. It also allows you to keep current with changing market trends and legal developments. NAR is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to advance their real estate career.

NAR members are licensed real estate agents and have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a database that contains information on homes for sale. They are also required to attend educational courses and seminars that provide them with the skills needed to succeed in their careers. As a NAR member, you are able to participate in NAR’s advocacy efforts and lobby for legislation that impacts the real estate industry.

In addition to preparing property marketing materials and facilitating home sales, a Realtor can also help clients with obtaining mortgage financing. They can also assist with coordinating property closings and conducting title searches. Additionally, they can advise sellers on how to prepare their homes for sale and help buyers locate the best property at a reasonable price.

A Realtor must have strong interpersonal skills to effectively communicate with clients and other agents. They must be able to empathize with their clients during what can be a stressful time in their lives. A good rapport with their clients can increase the likelihood of a sale and lead to referrals.

NerdWallet has a number of articles that can help you decide whether real estate is the right field for you. These articles include a primer on the real estate industry, an overview of common pitfalls, and a list of tips for new agents. The site can also help you find a local real estate agent and compare their qualifications.

Becoming a Realtor can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. A successful Realtor can make a substantial income while helping people find the perfect place to call home. They must be willing to work long hours and put in the extra effort to compete with other real estate agents.