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survivorship life insurance policies
survivorship life insurance policies

Estate Planning

What Are Survivorship Life Insurance Policies In Estate Planning?

Understanding Survivorship Life Insurance Policies in Estate Planning

Estate planning is a crucial aspect of financial management that ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your passing. Survivorship life insurance policies, also known as second-to-die policies, have gained popularity as a valuable tool in estate planning. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of survivorship life insurance policies, exploring their purpose, benefits, and considerations.

What is Survivorship Life Insurance?

Survivorship life insurance, or second-to-die insurance, is a type of permanent life insurance that covers two individuals, typically a married couple. Unlike traditional life insurance policies that pay out upon the death of one insured individual, survivorship policies pay the death benefit after both policyholders pass away. This makes them an essential component of estate planning.

One of the primary purposes of survivorship life insurance is to preserve the estate. Upon the death of the second insured individual, the policy’s death benefit can help cover estate taxes, ensuring that the wealth accumulated over a lifetime is passed down to heirs and beneficiaries without significant financial burdens.

Survivorship policies also facilitate the seamless transfer of wealth to the next generation. They are particularly beneficial when substantial assets, such as a family business or a valuable estate, need to be transferred to heirs. The policy’s payout can provide liquidity to cover any estate-related expenses and maintain the financial stability of the family.


survivorship life insurance policies


Benefits of Survivorship Life Insurance Policies

There are several ways to take advantage of survivorship policies, providing long-term benefits and financial security for couples:

  1. Cost Savings: Survivorship policies offer a cost-effective solution compared to purchasing individual life insurance policies for both spouses. With lower premiums, couples can maximize their estate’s value while ensuring comprehensive coverage.
  2. Tax Advantages: The death benefit from a survivorship life insurance policy is generally not subject to income tax. Moreover, these policies can be strategically structured to help mitigate estate taxes, facilitating a more tax-efficient transfer of wealth for future generations.
  3. Flexibility in Coverage: Survivorship policies can be tailored to meet specific needs and goals. They can include options for additional coverage, riders for critical illness or long-term care, and even options to convert the policy into an individual policy if circumstances change.
  4. Legacy Planning: By leveraging survivorship policies, couples can create a lasting legacy for their loved ones. The death benefit can be used to provide financial support, fund educational expenses, or even establish charitable foundations to make a positive impact on future generations.

Considerations When Purchasing Survivorship Life Insurance

Before investing in a life insurance policy when estate planning, there are some things to think about. These aspects may be beneficial to you as you make your estate plan.

  • Coverage Amount. Determining the appropriate coverage amount is crucial. It should be sufficient to cover estate taxes, outstanding debts, and any additional financial needs of the beneficiaries.
  • Policy Type. There are different types of survivorship life insurance policies, including whole life and universal life. Each has its own features and benefits, so it’s essential to choose the one that aligns with your specific goals and financial situation.
  • Wealth Accumulation. Some survivorship policies offer a cash value component that can be accessed during the policyholder’s lifetime. This can serve as a valuable source of savings and investments, providing a financial cushion for retirement or other financial goals.
  • Charitable Giving. Survivorship policies can also be used for philanthropic purposes. Policyholders can name a charitable organization as a beneficiary, ensuring that a portion of the death benefit goes towards their chosen cause.

Reviewing and Updating Your Survivorship Life Insurance

Reviewing and updating your survivorship life insurance is an important aspect of estate planning that should not be overlooked. Just like any other financial plan, it requires ongoing maintenance to ensure its effectiveness.

Periodically reviewing your survivorship life insurance policy with an insurance agent allows you to reassess whether it still aligns with your estate planning objectives and financial circumstances. As your life and financial situation evolve, your insurance needs may change as well. By staying proactive and keeping your policy up-to-date, you can ensure that it continues to provide the necessary protection for your loved ones and support your long-term financial goals.

During the review process, consider factors such as changes in your marital status, the birth or adoption of children, or significant changes in your income or assets. These life events can have a significant impact on your estate planning and may require adjustments to your survivorship life insurance policy.

Additionally, it’s important to evaluate the performance of your policy in relation to current market conditions and insurance trends. New products and features may become available that offer enhanced benefits or more favorable terms. By staying informed about these developments, you can make informed decisions about whether to update or modify your policy to take advantage of any potential improvements.

Remember, estate planning is an ongoing journey, and your survivorship life insurance policy is a key component of that journey. By dedicating the time and effort to regularly review and update your policy, you can ensure that it remains a reliable and effective tool in preserving your legacy and providing for your loved ones.


survivorship life insurance policies


Potential Drawbacks and Challenges

While survivorship life insurance policies offer numerous advantages, it’s essential to be aware of potential drawbacks and challenges. One notable drawback is the lack of flexibility compared to individual life insurance policies. Survivorship policies are generally less customizable, making it more challenging to modify coverage or beneficiaries according to changing needs. Therefore, it’s crucial to carefully plan and consider potential future needs when opting for a survivorship policy.

Another potential challenge is the risk of policy termination. In some cases, survivorship policies may terminate if one of the insured individuals dies. While this may not initially seem problematic, it could pose difficulties if the surviving spouse requires coverage later in life. To avoid unexpected lapses in coverage, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand the terms and conditions of the policy and consider alternative options if necessary.

By taking these potential drawbacks into account and conducting thorough research, individuals can make informed decisions about survivorship life insurance policies that align with their specific needs and circumstances.

Professional Guidance in Survivorship Policy Planning

Navigating the complexities of survivorship life insurance and estate planning often requires professional guidance. It’s best to take advantage of financial advisors, estate planning attorneys, and insurance professionals in crafting a tailored survivorship policy strategy.

  • Working with Financial Advisors: Financial advisors can help assess your overall financial situation and goals, ensuring that a survivorship policy complements your broader wealth management strategy.
  • Consulting Estate Planning Attorneys: Estate planning attorneys specialize in the legal intricacies of wills, trusts, and insurance policies. Their expertise is invaluable in crafting a comprehensive plan that aligns with your specific wishes.


In the realm of estate planning, survivorship life insurance policies play a vital role in preserving wealth, providing financial security for loved ones, and minimizing tax liabilities. As you embark on your estate planning journey, consider the strategic advantages that survivorship life insurance can offer in achieving your long-term financial goals. With careful consideration and the right policy, you can leave a lasting legacy for future generations.


survivorship life insurance policies



Related Questions

What is the primary purpose of a survivorship life insurance policy in estate planning?

The primary purpose of a survivorship life insurance policy is to provide a financial cushion for heirs and beneficiaries by paying out the death benefit after both insured individuals pass away. This helps cover estate taxes, debts, and facilitates the smooth transfer of wealth to the next generation.

How does a survivorship policy differ from individual life insurance policies?

Unlike individual life insurance policies that pay out upon the death of one insured individual, survivorship policies cover two individuals (typically a married couple) and pay the death benefit after both individuals have passed away. This makes survivorship policies a strategic tool for estate planning.

Can survivorship life insurance help with estate tax planning?

Yes, survivorship life insurance is often used to mitigate estate taxes. The death benefit can provide liquidity to cover estate taxes, ensuring that the estate’s assets can be passed down to heirs without a significant financial burden.

Are survivorship life insurance policies flexible in terms of coverage and beneficiaries?

Survivorship policies are generally less flexible than individual life insurance policies. Modifying coverage or beneficiaries may be more challenging, emphasizing the importance of careful planning and consideration of future needs.

How often should I review and update my survivorship life insurance policy?

It’s advisable to review and update your survivorship life insurance policy regularly, especially when there are significant life events such as births, deaths, or changes in financial status. Periodic reviews, ideally conducted with the guidance of financial and insurance professionals, ensure that the policy aligns with your evolving goals and family dynamics.


Written By

Matt has over 10 years of legal writing experience. He's worked and written for legal websites for serval websites including Truskett Law, Bruner Law, Jeffrey & Erwin, Gary Crews, PLLC., Deposition Academy, and Wagner & Lynch.


Legal Blaze is your source for legal related information that is free and clear. Our content is independently curated with an unbiased approach. Our team consists of legal website writers, lawyers, and legal marketing experts. We explain the process in an informational format. Our content is reviewed for factual accuracy.

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