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Retiree considers cashing in life-insurance policy

His wife died last year and he sees no reason to keep the policy.


When I accepted my last job before retirement, the company bought a life-insurance contract on me for $300,000. When I retired, they included the policy as part of my retirement package.

I had worked for them for 29 years. I have paid the premiums for the years since then, with my wife the new beneficiary. She died last year, and I see no reason to keep it.

I am moving to a retirement community this spring, and I was thinking of using the substantial cash value of the policy to cover a big piece of my initial deposit. Are you aware of any reason why I should keep the policy going? I am 74 and my kids are in better financial shape than me.

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Do not cash in the policy! In most cases, you can get a better settlement than the cash value from private investors. Your insurance broker or agent and your lawyer can find them and get you a couple of quotes.

Instead of looking from the ground up, these investors look from the top down. They consider your life expectancy and the premiums due until then to see what they will pay. I have never seen a case where it does not exceed the cash value substantially for people your age.

One caveat: If the value is greater than the premiums you have paid, the excess is taxable to you as income. Enjoy that retirement community!