With Valentine’s Day approaching, what I am about to suggest may sound as romantic as getting a vacuum cleaner or a new set of wrenches; but once you understand what can happen to families after the disability or death of a spouse or partner, you may see it differently. I am talking about giving your sweetheart the gift of insurance—disability income insurance, life insurance, and long-term care insurance. Let me explain…

Over the years, I’ve talked with many people whose spouses have died or become disabled and unable to return to work. For these families, the sudden loss-of-income of their loved one is often a difficult or even devastating blow to their financial stability. They are not only grieving the loss, injury, or illness of their loved one, but they are also left wondering how they will survive financially on a significantly reduced income. On top of grief, they’re dealing with anxiety over how to support the family. For the individual and the family as a whole, this can be emotionally exhausting or demoralizing.

While the grief may remain, the anxiety over finances can be curbed or even eliminated if the family had the forethought to acquire adequate insurance protection. According to Jeff Kolender, chair of the estate planning department at Paley Rothman, a law firm based in Bethesda, MD, “when I work with an estate where the deceased had had sufficient life insurance, there is immediate liquidity to the family, and the check arrives within weeks of death.” He also notes that these funds usually “reduce the stress level that is involved in the loss of a loved one and help the family avoid having to make major life changes during a difficult time.”

Being properly insured doesn’t just happen; someone has to make it a priority and take the time to apply for the insurance, undergo the medical exam and underwriting process, and pay for the insurance. Whether you are the primary income provider, the secondary income provider, or a non-working spouse, getting appropriate insurance coverage is a way that you can protect and care for your family. Now, perhaps you can understand why I consider the gift of insurance to be a loving and even romantic choice.

If you are considering providing some protection for your loved ones, a good first step is to understand which protections you need and which you already have. Insurance costs money, so you don’t want to be “over-insured.” Below are 10 of the many questions you need to ask yourself and your spouse or partner before acquiring coverage. These are by no means all the areas that you need to address, but this quick list can help you start this important discussion.

Life Insurance

1.) How much monthly income will my life insurance be able to generate, and how long will this income last?

2.) Will my insurance provide enough money to pay off our home mortgage, retire any debt, and pay for our children’s college?

3.) Will my family be able to remain in our home or at least in the same neighborhood and schools?

4.) Can I take my existing group life insurance with me when I leave my job, and are my benefits taxable?

Disability Income Insurance

5.) How much monthly income will I receive if I cannot work?

6.) How long will I have to wait until my first check arrives?

7.) How long will these monthly income checks last?

8.) If I can work only part-time, will I be eligible for a partial disability income payment?