I think these numbers are based on the highest form of actuarial science, the basis of the life insurance industry. Hence, the experts think the odds on these two choices make them absolutely identical. So the question becomes what is the life expectancy of the three people involved compared to what the actuaries expect for a person of your age and sex.To clarify, in scenario one, payments go to you or your spouse and end when the last one dies. Even if you are run over by a bus next week. The 240 months is what the actuarial average person of your age and sex expects to collect. But it is not guaranteed. The payment is for life.In scenario two, you need to clarify if the numbers are estimates or guarantees. To guard against the bus next week problem, some people take cash lump sums (and roll them into an IRA to avoid paying income taxes on the whole amount all at once) or some plans have a guaranteed minimum number of payments. Then if you both pass early the payments continue to your designated beneficiaries for the rest of the guarantee period. But when age of beneficiary matters, then the payment is usually for the life of the beneficiary.
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