When you're young and beginning your adult life, your financial responsibilities are few: you may have some student loans, a car loan, rent, etc. You get a little older & all of a sudden you get married, you have kids, you get a mortgage and you have two cars. At this time you're just beginning your career so your income & investments are at their lowest levels the same time your responsibilities are at their peak.
Over the next 30 years you pay off the cars, you pay off the mortgage, your kids move out & sustain themselves financially. Your income and investments, having steadily grown over the last 30 years, are now at the highest levels and you're nearing retirement, but at the same time your financial responsibilities have decreased, if not vanished from where you where when you were just beginning your adult life.
The theory of decreasing responsibility posits that you need life insurance the most when you're most financially vulnerable, i.e. when you're just starting your adult life & the financial impact of the death of your spouse or partner would be most financially traumatic. Later in life, when you own your home outright, when the kids are grown and no longer a financial liability, when you're able to live entirely from your investments, i.e. you're retired, why would you need life insurance? You're financially free. You only needed life insurance for a set "term," and when that term has ended, you should be self insured with few, if any, financial responsibilities.
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