Can I Buy Life Insurance for My Parents?

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You can buy life insurance for your parents as long as you have their consent and can prove that their deaths would be a financial detriment for you. Your parents will have to be part of the application process and may need to undergo a medical examination to assess their eligibility for life insurance.

Keep reading for more information on why you might want to buy life insurance for parents and how you can do so.

Key Takeaways

  • You can buy life insurance for a parent if you have their permission and can demonstrate that you would experience a financial loss when they die.
  • A life insurance policy can have multiple beneficiaries, so your parents can leave behind money for each other, their children and grandchildren, charities of their choosing and more.
  • The younger and healthier your parents are when you buy them life insurance, the cheaper the premiums will be.
  • If your parents want life insurance, you should buy enough coverage to pay for final expenses like funeral costs, outstanding debts and any other causes your parents wish to support after they die.
  • Term life insurance is a cheaper option that only lasts for a limited window of time, while whole life insurance is a more expensive option with lifelong coverage.

What Are the Benefits of Buying Life Insurance for Parents?

The primary benefit of buying life insurance for your parents is that it can grant financial security to the beneficiaries of the policy. If you name yourself as the life insurance beneficiary, you could use the death benefit from the insurance company to cover the costs of funeral expenses and pay off any of your parents’ outstanding debts.

Conversely, you could provide financial security for your parents by taking out a separate life insurance policy for each of them and making each parent the beneficiary of the other parent’s policy. For example, if one of your parents still works and the other relies on their income, a life insurance death benefit could replace the working parent’s income if they die before retiring.

Finally, the death benefit could end up being a parting gift from your parents to the beneficiaries of the policies. For example, the insurance payout could go to your children to help them pay off their college loans or it could become a nontaxable donation to a charitable organization of your parents’ choosing. Keep in mind that you can usually name multiple beneficiaries to a life insurance policy, so it’s possible to support all of the above causes with a single policy.

When Can I Buy Life Insurance for My Parents?

There is not a specific time frame during which you must purchase a life insurance policy for parents, but the younger your parents are when you buy them a policy, the cheaper the life insurance premiums will be. Similarly, it is better to purchase a policy while your parents are in good health rather than waiting for their health to decline.

For example, a 55-year-old Californian man with above-average health might have to pay around $91 a month for a 20-year term life insurance policy with a $200,000 death benefit. However, a policy with the same amount of coverage might cost a 65-year-old Californian man in average health closer to $308 per month.[1]

In addition, insurance providers can deny life insurance coverage to anyone they deem too risky to insure.

As a result, your parents may have a hard time finding high-quality life insurance policies if they are over the age of 80 or have pre-existing conditions like obesity and diabetes.[2][3]

Who Owns the Life Insurance Policy?

When you buy life insurance for your parents, you are the owner of their policy while your parents are the insureds. This differs from a policy you might buy from yourself, where you would be both the policy owner and the insured. As the owner of your parents’ life insurance policy, you would be responsible for paying their premiums, designating the beneficiaries and updating the policy whenever necessary.

What Do I Need To Buy Life Insurance for My Parents?

If you want to buy life insurance for your parents, you will need to obtain their permission and provide proof of insurable interest since you would be the owner of the policy. Demonstrating insurable interest simply means showing that your parents’ deaths would have a negative financial impact on you.[4]

You can generally show proof of your parents’ consent by having them sign the life insurance application. Depending on the type of life insurance you want to buy and your insurance company’s preferred underwriting method, you may also need to have your parents undergo a medical examination or fill out a questionnaire about their lifestyle and medical history.

Finally, you’ll need to provide personal information for each of your parents like their name, address and Social Security number. You should also come prepared with information about the people and/or organizations you intend to set as the beneficiaries of your parents’ life insurance.

How Much Life Insurance Should I Buy for My Parents?

In general, you should buy enough life insurance coverage to take care of your parents’ funeral expenses and debts, along with any other expenses they wish to cover after they die. For example, if you will inherit your parents’ house, you may want to purchase a life insurance policy with a high enough death benefit to finish paying off their mortgage.

Funeral costs typically range from $7,000 to $12,000.[5] Meanwhile, a 2016 study found that the average person dies with more than $61,000 in unpaid debts.[6] While you won’t inherit your parents’ debts after they die, any money available in their estate must go toward paying off those debts.[7] It’s important that the listed beneficiary is a specific individual like yourself or a sibling so they can receive the full death benefit. Otherwise, a death benefit made payable to your parents’ estate will be used to repay those debts and whatever remains will go to their next of kin.

Along with buying a policy with a sufficient death benefit to cover final expenses, you should also consider what type of coverage would best suit your parents’ needs. Term life insurance is generally the cheapest option if your parents only need coverage for a specific period of time. For example, you might buy a policy with a 10-year term for a 55-year-old working parent that wants to provide a financial safety net for their spouse in case they die before they retire.

Meanwhile, whole life insurance is a more expensive option that ensures you will receive a death benefit no matter when your parents die. In addition, if you need life insurance for elderly parents with serious health problems, you may want to purchase a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. This kind of no-questions-asked policy tends to come with high premiums and low death benefits, but it allows your parents to avoid the risk of being denied coverage.

How To Buy Life Insurance for Your Parents

If you have talked with your parents and they agree that getting life insurance would be a good idea, then you should take the following steps to buy life insurance for your parents:

  1. Add up the expenses your parents intend to cover through their policy’s death benefit to decide how much life insurance you need.
  2. Decide which type of life insurance best suits your family’s needs.
  3. Consider whether you need endorsements that can provide extra coverage such as an accelerated death benefit rider that may allow you to access some of the policy’s death benefit before your parents die if they become terminally ill.
  4. Talk to an agent to find the right life insurance company for you.
  5. Fill out an application with the life insurance provider you select.
  6. Have your parents go through a medical examination or complete a questionnaire as part of the underwriting process.
  7. Pick a beneficiary or multiple beneficiaries for the policy’s death benefit.
  8. Decide whether you or your parents will be responsible for paying the life insurance premiums.
  9. Read through the policy details and sign any necessary documents to activate your parents’ life insurance policy.

Companies that offer life insurance include Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, State Farm and, if you have a connection to the United States military, USAA. Be sure to shop around using an insurance marketplace like SmartFinancial before you purchase life insurance so you can find the insurance carrier that will provide the best coverage for your circumstances.

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Can I pay for my parents’ life insurance policy?

Yes, you can buy your parents a life insurance policy and pay their premiums as long as you have their consent.

Can I pay for life insurance for all of my family members?

You can take out a life insurance policy for anyone as long as you can demonstrate insurable interest, meaning their death would cause some kind of financial hardship for you. You can likely prove that the death of an immediate family member would create a financial loss for you and buy a life insurance policy for them, but you may not be able to do the same for a more distant relative.

Can I take out a life insurance policy without consent?

You cannot take out a life insurance policy for someone without their consent. When you want to purchase life insurance for someone else, they will have to sign the application to show they have given you permission to buy a policy on their behalf.

Can I get life insurance for an elderly or dying parent?

You can get life insurance for an elderly or dying parent, although you may have to settle for an expensive guaranteed issue policy that comes with a small death benefit.


  1. The Annuity Expert. “Whole Life Insurance Calculator (2023).” Accessed April 6, 2023.
  2. Protective Life. “Life Insurance Over 50.” Accessed April 6, 2023.
  3. Life Happens. “What Happens if I’m Denied Life Insurance?” Accessed April 6, 2023.
  4. Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage. “Guide to Buying Life Insurance for Parents.” Accessed April 6, 2023.
  5. Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage. “2023 Funeral Costs.” Accessed April 6, 2023.
  6. “Most Americans Die With Debt: Here’s How To Deal With It.” Accessed April 6, 2023.
  7. Federal Trade Commission. “Debts and Deceased Relatives.” Accessed April 11, 2023.

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