The benefits of life insurance in estate planning

Life insurance can play an important role in your estate plan because it provides a solution to a wide range of potential goals.

In general, life insurance fulfils one of two functions: creating wealth for your heirs or preserving your existing wealth. In general, life insurance premiums are not tax-deductible, but the benefit payable to the estate (probate fees may apply) or to a beneficiary (probate fees do not apply) is not subject to income tax.

life insurance and estate planningLife insurance for estate planning purposes

Here are some common reasons that could cause you to use life insurance for estate planning:

  • Ensure the liquidity of an estate to settle liabilities such as taxes or a mortgage. In this way, illiquid assets, such as a house or business, do not need to be sold and can be bequeathed to your beneficiaries.
  • Establish a fund to provide income for someone you want to support.
  • Make a donation to a charity.

Although the term insurance can be used to finance a short-term estate-related need such as paying an outstanding mortgage or protecting the estate against an immediate shortfall, it is best to purchase a universal life or life insurance policy. for estate planning purposes.

For example, you can have a life insurance policy that would pay the estate tax on death (capital gains under the rules of the deemed disposition) or you can bequeath personal property without tax.

As with all insurance products purchased for estate planning purposes, a thorough cost-benefit analysis is required to assess the merits of the strategy.

How much do you need to buy life insurance?

The amount of insurance required will depend on your estate goals and your current financial situation. As you get older, you will likely find that the amount of insurance you need may decrease or move from short-term insurance to permanent insurance. It is through the preparation of a financial plan and the assistance of an advisor licensed to sell life insurance that one can most accurately assess how much insurance is required and what form is best suited to the situation.

Tax implications of life insurance and its assets

The life insurance earnings that beneficiaries receive after the insured’s death are generally tax-free. However, there are three circumstances that cause life insurance to be included in the deceased’s estate:

  • The income is paid to the executor of the deceased’s estate.
  • The deceased upon death had a property incident in the policy.
  • There is a transfer of ownership within three years after death (a period of three years must be observed).

A property incident includes the right to assign, terminate, appoint beneficiaries, change beneficiaries and borrow against cash reserves.


Subscription entitlement replaces each certificate of inheritance

If inheritance occurs, it does not depend on the legal or testamentary succession. The person who is designated in the life insurance contract as a beneficiary may directly request the payment of the sum insured. She does not need a will and a hereditary certificate. Alone with the presentation of the death certificate, the sum insured usually comes immediately and without delay to disbursement. No heir can block the payout.

The sum insured does not fall into the estate. Rather, it is a contract in favour of third parties, the result of the estate will be paid over. The beneficiary person did not need to be an heir. It is completely sufficient if it is shown in the life insurance contract as a beneficiary.

In addition, it is advantageous for this person that he can not be held liable for any liabilities of the estate. The liabilities of the estate concern only the heirs.

If the beneficiary is also the heir

If the heir and the beneficiary are one, the beneficiary may collect the sum insured and, as the heir, reject the eventual over-indebted estate or apply for the estate insolvency proceedings.

The sum insured does not then fall into the estate and the heir is not privately liable for the estate liabilities so that the sum insured for the estate creditor remains unassailable. This constellation is particularly suitable for entrepreneurially active testators who want to protect their families financially and protect them from the potential risk of corporate insolvency.

This is how life partners and partners secure their lives

The same benefits are achieved by unmarried and unregistered life partners. If a partner dies, the surviving partner has direct access to the sum insured. He needs no will and no certificate of inheritance. The sum insured will be paid out of the succession. If the partners split during their lifetime, the subscription right can be changed at any time and rewritten to a possible new partner.

Capital income is tax-free!

It is advantageous that the capital income (interest, dividends) arising during the deferment period of the testator is added to the insurance contract and remains tax-free. They continuously increase the return. For in the case of the death of the testator in the postponement phase, the sum insured will be paid out to the beneficiary without an income tax.

Subscription rights changed at any time

During his lifetime, the testator may revoke the entitled person at any time by another person in the case of the revocable subscription right. The change is possible at any time and informally. The beneficiary is not entitled to receive its subscription rights. Alternatively, the irrevocable subscription right, which may lead to other results in the area of ​​the compulsory supplement claim.

Testator retains the power of control during his lifetime

The testator forgives nothing during his lifetime. If he experiences the payout phase, the sum insured will, of course, be paid to him. He can pledge the insured sum as security during his lifetime and/or lend it to him and possibly even take out a policy loan. His financial freedom of action remains (revocable subscription right).

Life insurance as a building block of estate planning

In this sense, life insurance or pension insurance is an essential component of estate planning. Ideally, the potential testator combines his estate planning with a power of attorney, a care directive, a living will and a funeral directive, a special power of attorney and, as appropriate, an entrepreneurial power or custody order.