For Mark Roberts’ Use: Most people are aware that having life insurance is important, but a much bigger question is usually, “How much life insurance do I need?”. The truth is that there is no single answer that will work for everyone. But there are definitely factors most of us need to consider before arriving at a final number.

First, consider the fact that the main point of life insurance is to provide for your family in the event of your death. How much money do you currently make, and what percentage of your income does your family need to survive? These are all good starting questions when you’re trying to decide upon a life insurance policy.

Then ask yourself how many years your family would need to survive on this particular amount. If you’re young, with small children, this will be a greater number than perhaps someone in their 50s or 60s. If your spouse works, or would need to work if something happened to you, also consider the cost of child care or other help that they might need as a single-income household.

Another important factor to consider is that you’re not just replacing your current income; you’re replacing future income as well. Were you expecting career advancements to fund your children’s college educations or retirement for yourself and your spouse? If there are things that concern you about the future, be sure to include those in your calculations so that you can leave a legacy of security to your family.

After considering all of these factors, most people begin to arrive at a dollar amount. Just remember to include burial expenses and any debts you may leave behind you. If you have a special consideration, such as a disabled spouse or child, you may need additional life insurance beyond what most people of your income bracket would normally purchase.

It’s always a good idea to start shopping with at least some idea of what you need. However, consulting with a life insurance specialist is probably the best way to determine your specific needs. This person can also help you decide which type of life insurance policy is best for you, and help you make other important decisions to secure your future.