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How much life insurance do you need?

If something happened to you, would your family be protected? Would your debts be settled or taken on by a loved one?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Death isn't something that people want to talk about, but being prepared and buttoned-up, even with a small life insurance policy, may help your family if something were to happen suddenly. 

Life insurance sales are on the rise, and while it might be easy to think the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing the trend, experts say that's only partially true. In actuality, life insurance has been trending upward since 1983. 

When a person thinks about their family, experts suggest considering how they would fare if something happened. 

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"Most of us are aware that life insurance can help pay for those final expenses and it's not just those of us that have dependents who need it," Darin Reeser, the regional director of supplemental health benefits at Securian Financial, said. 

Reeser said millennials are among the biggest group buying life insurance these days, especially as they become parents.

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“Life insurance sales have been higher now, more so since 1983," Reeser said. "Thirty-one percent of Americans said they were thinking of buying life insurance in the next 12 months related to COVID-19, so I think that has a lot to do with it."

So where does someone start if they're younger? Your employer is a good first step. Typically, employees are eligible to receive the benefit of a year's salary, but that can be added to. It's cheap and you don't normally need a medical exam unless the amount is high. 

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to the Defenders team by emailing money@wcnc.com.

How much does someone need? The answer, like most situations, depends. A person should weigh their debt and family's needs if they're gone. Debts don't just disappear. So if a person has a co-signed obligation like a car loan, the other person is still responsible for those bills. 

"It's always a good idea to make the beneficiary a loved one," Reeser said. "Someone you trust, in case something untimely happens to you, that they'll be able to direct that."

Some states have different laws when it comes to debt after a person dies. It's a good idea to know what's protected and what's not. These are some of the questions people should always ask when buying a life insurance policy. 

Contact Bill McGinty at bmcginty@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook.

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