Do I Need Life Insurance if I Don’t Have Kids?

Matt Gray, CFP®

The primary concern that life insurance protects against is leaving loved ones behind with significant burdens like debt or without enough resources to continue their lives. This is especially the case for people who have dependents, but is it as important for people who don’t have kids?

Life insurance is most frequently used as a way to replace someone’s income if they were to pass away. It can help a family maintain their lifestyle after someone passes away, pay off large sums of debt like a mortgage, and set loved ones up for the future.
While everyone has a different situation, there are some reasons childfree people typically don’t need as much life insurance. Consider that people without kids:

  • Usually do not have college expenses to prepare for
  • Usually do not have significant additional expenses (childcare, nannies, housecleaning, other help)
  • Their surviving partner will likely be able to support themselves

Without the above items to consider, life insurance often becomes a luxury item for Childfree people! To be clear, I don’t mean glamorize the macabre, but  life insurance is less of a necessity and more of a “nice thing to have” in a terrible time. Particularly when paying off student loans or the mortgage would ease the burden on the surviving spouse.

I also don’t think life insurance is purely a luxury item for those without kids. Have you seen the cost of anything death related? The average cost of dying in the US is $20K! That’s for funeral, burial, and other associated costs. Employer provided life insurance is often enough to cover those costs at little or no cost.

For those SINKs (Single Income No Kids) out there, you may be able to just set aside money for funeral costs and skip life insurance completely.  
There are times a childfree family would need life insurance, or at least it would provide minimal disruption in the life of the survivor. For instance:

  • One partner is disabled and can’t work
  • One partner makes significantly more than the other
  • You have significant debt

The first one sort of speaks for itself in that a disabled person could be viewed as a financial dependent. I am not suggesting they don’t contribute, but they may need financial assistance if their partner passes. Life insurance would be a great option to provide for them, especially as additional care may be needed if their partner was a caretaker.

The lifestyle of a couple or polycule may be impacted positively by a member of the relationship making significantly more than the other(s). The passing of the high earner would mean that lifestyle couldn’t be maintained and life insurance is a way to ensure the lower earner(s) would be able to continue their standard of living. A great example of this would be a social worker and a surgeon couple recently spent $2MM on a house together and had a $1.5M mortgage. The social worker would clearly struggle without financial assistance and would likely sell the house.

That brings us to the last point of having significant debt. Using the last couple as an example, imagine they were married while the surgeon was in residency and had hundreds of thousands of loans. If the surgeon passed away unexpectedly, the social worker would now own that debt. Life insurance would help alleviate that burden.

So there are reasons for Childfree people to have notable life insurance policies but usually it becomes more of a want than a need to have anything beyond basic, employer-provided policies.  

If you want help looking at if you need life insurance or not, reach out to a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ who can look at your entire picture.  

About the Author - Matt Gray is a Childfree Financial Planner who holds both the Certified Financial Planner® designation and the Chartered Advisor of Philanthropy designation. He enjoys working with his Childfree peers because he enjoys helping solve the specific needs of the Childfree community. Furthermore, he believes choosing a less traditional life path leads to more unique life stories and he loves helping those stories become a reality.