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I know I’m not the only one to struggle with holiday shopping. It’s tricky enough to find the money and the time to go looking for gifts. Then, there’s the even more challenging task of trying to pick the perfect present for everyone on your list.

If you’re still looking for ideas, I have one for you. It might not be the most exciting gift, but it’s one your family might really be thankful for someday.

The gift that keeps on giving after you’re gone

There’s no present as valuable as your presence in your family’s lives. But unfortunately, we never have any guarantees about whether we’re going to live to see tomorrow. And even after we’re gone, there’s still going to be work to do and bills to pay.

That’s where life insurance comes in. It pays a death benefit to the beneficiaries in the event of the policyholder’s death. These policies can be worth anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on how much the policyholder wants to spend and what they’re approved for. But they could go a long way toward ensuring the beneficiaries remain financially secure long into the future.

It’s best to purchase life insurance as young as possible, because prices are usually much higher for older applicants. It’s often possible to get a six-figure policy for less than $20 per month if you’re under 50. So now’s the perfect time to start looking for those who don’t already have a policy.

How to find the perfect life insurance policy

The first major decision to make is whether to get a term or whole life insurance policy. Term policies only remain in effect for a certain number of years — usually 10 to 30. If the policyholder dies during this time, the insurer pays out the death benefit. And if not, the insurer keeps the premiums. These types of policies are pretty flexible and more affordable than permanent policies.

As you might have guessed, permanent life insurance policies last the policyholder’s entire life. These are more expensive because there’s a guarantee the insurer will pay out at some point. There are also two types: whole and universal life insurance. Whole life insurance is typically seen as more stable, while universal life insurance is more flexible. It’s up to each person to decide which type of policy is best for them.

The next major decision to make is how much life insurance to get. The general rule of thumb is to at least buy enough to pay off any debt and replace any income the policyholder provides for the family. This way, if the policyholder dies, beneficiaries will have a cash reserve they can use to make up for that lost income and to pay off their debts. You can also check out the DIME method which includes debt, income, mortgage, and education costs for any children.

It’s also important to think about riders the policyholder may want to add. For example, some permanent life insurance policies have a rider that enables policyholders to tap their benefit while still alive to cover long-term care expenses.

With these decisions made, it’s time to get quotes from top life insurance companies. Some insurers have online quote tools that can give applicants an idea of how much they’d pay for their coverage. But many require a medical exam, especially if the policy has a large death benefit. So it may not be possible to know the exact premium until this is done.

Compare quotes from a few providers and then, if rates are reasonable, consider purchasing a policy. Be sure to let your beneficiaries know about it so they can claim the death benefit if they ever need to.

Hopefully, your family doesn’t have to worry about life without you for a long time. But they might appreciate having the extra financial help if that were to happen. And you might enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve done everything you could to protect your family after you’re gone. Even if you never reap any direct financial benefit from your life insurance, it’s still money well spent.

Our picks for best life insurance companies

Life insurance is essential if you have people depending on you. We’ve combed through the options and developed a best-in-class list for life insurance coverage. This guide will help you find the best life insurance companies and the right type of policy for your needs. Read our free review today.

We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers.
The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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