Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:
Life insurance made easy
"As soon as somebody depends on you financially, you need life insurance," said Carl Richards at The New York Times. But plenty of us avoid getting policies, because we hate to think about the situation when life insurance will be needed. And when we do take action, we "get stuck" thinking about how much insurance to buy. So here's an easy approach. "Call it the 20-20 plan." Multiply your salary by 20. If your annual income is $50,000, you should buy a $1 million policy, which costs roughly $50 per month for a healthy, 35-year-old man. Buy a 20-year term policy for that amount, which is the simplest, cheapest kind of policy you can buy. The final step: Sleep easier, knowing your family will be taken care of.
Cash to cut your health-care bill
Traditionally, hospitals charge uninsured patients their highest rates, said Melinda Beck at The Wall Street Journal. "Now, in the Alice-in-Wonderland world of health-care prices," some medical providers are offering deep discounts to patients who pay up front in cash instead of using insurance. In one case, a Colorado patient was told a knee X-ray would cost her $600 through her high-deductible insurance, or $75 in cash upfront. Why are patients paying cash getting "better deals than their insurance plans have negotiated for them"? Part of the reason can be traced to new laws meant to protect uninsured patients from price gouging. But providers also prefer cash because it saves them administrative and collection hassles. People with insurance aren't legally required to use their policies, but cash payments don't count toward deductibles. That means shoppers "have to guess" about the best payment approach.
Debts after death
Debts don't necessarily go away when you die, said Sarah Max at Time. But what happens to them "depends on the type of debt, whether anyone cosigned the loan, where you live, and the size of the estate you leave behind." Your surviving spouse is responsible for any outstanding debt if he or she cosigned the loan. In the nine states that follow "common property" rules, your debt is also your spouse's if it was acquired during the marriage. Children aren't liable unless they inherit assets tied to the debt or anything that could be used to pay it off. For other debts, like credit cards and medical bills, creditors usually can't hold heirs responsible unless the loans are cosigned, "but they can make a claim on the estate."