So you need life insurance. You have a pretty solid plan in place but there is still some risk that needs to be addressed. With the help of your financial advisor, you’ve even identified the amount of life insurance that will mitigate the risk. Honestly, the part you’re dreading most is going to talk to those insurance people. No one likes to talk about life insurance, amiright?

Now that you’ve met with us insurance people, you feel like you got hit by a train. Not only did we make you laugh, but we also got a very different number than you expected. How did that happen?

Let’s take a stroll down life insurance lane, starting at the beginning.

What is the most valuable asset you have? I’m going to give you a hint, it’s not your house or portfolio (though I’m sure both are admirable). You and your ability to get up and go to work every day are your most valuable asset. Over the course of your life this adds up to millions, maybe even billions, of dollars. If you were to kick the bucket tomorrow, is your portfolio going to get up and go to work for you to take care of your loved ones? We like to think so. But if your spouse goes to see your advisor after you’re gone asking, “How am I going to pay my bills?” What will the answer be? On top of losing a spouse and parent, you don’t want your family to also have to find a new home, settle into a new school, and have to make new friends.

How do we keep that from happening? Either A) Don’t die (if this is the case, you’re only here for the witty insurance talk, right?) or B) Ensure your financial contribution to the household doesn’t disappear with you. No software or equation can replace you as a human. We can’t replace you as the soccer coach. We can’t replace you as the homework tutor every night. We can’t replace you as the second chauffer. But we can ensure that added financial stress is not there.

There are two schools of thought for accomplishing this: do lots of fancy calculations to figure out the exact amount needed or keep it simple with income replacement. At the end of the day, your cash flow drives everything: family vacations, the neighborhood your kids grow up in, whether or not you pay for the first car or college or the wedding. Either way, the best time to make these decisions is when you’re both still around and, theoretically, healthy. Not after it’s too late.

At the crux of it, you need to approach life insurance the same way you do a retirement plan. Stick with me on this one. You’re planning for your assets to eventually be able to get up to go to work for you, right? Us crazy insurance people want to help plan for the same thing with the small contingency that one of you dies. Minor (but not really) details.