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Thinking about the future can be scary, but planning for it is necessary. When you are calculating how much you need for retirement and what your life will look like down the road, it’s important to also consider what will happen after you pass on. Thinking about your own death can seem depressing, but you (and your family or loved ones) will be happy you did.

Life insurance can provide financial cover for your beneficiaries when your income is no longer, well, coming in. And the last thing you want to do is leave your family buried in debt after you pass on, possibly hurting their credit and affecting their financial futures in the long run (you can check out the lifetime cost of debt here). But how much life insurance do you need? And do you even need life insurance at all? Agents and even some financial advisers who make commissions off of selling insurance may push you toward buying a policy, but it might be unnecessarily expensive or just plain unnecessary. Here are some of the major points to consider if you’re making a life insurance decision.

If No One Depends on Your Income…

The primary purpose of life insurance is to help those you leave behind cope with the loss of your income, especially if you are the primary earner. If your beneficiaries (usually your children, spouse or parents) are independent and no longer rely on your financial support, you may not need to shell out monthly life insurance premiums or at least only have a small plan to cover your funeral costs.

If You Have No Financial Liabilities…

If you do not have any debt or financial liabilities that would burden your family upon your death, you may not need life insurance. Servicing a home loan after losing income is most family’s primary concern and reason for purchasing a policy. This can also be true for credit card debt, private student loans or any other personal balances you may owe. (You can see how your debts are currently impacting your credit for free on Credit.com.)

If You Have Enough Wealth to Support Survivors…

If you (and your spouse if you are married) have acquired enough assets and income streams to care for yourselves independently, you may not need life insurance. There is a certain level of wealth that simply no longer requires a policy to protect you.

Life insurance is just like auto or homeowner’s insurance in that it is good to have, until you no longer need it. If you find you do need life insurance, it’s important to do research, pick policies carefully and inform your beneficiaries. If you find life insurance is not necessary for you, it’s still a good idea to discuss this with beneficiaries.

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