A large insurer is trying to make a popular employee benefit more versatile.

Aetna Inc., Hartford, will be offering the Aetna Life Essentials package of benefits and services to group life insurance customers starting in January 2007.

Financial benefits will include access to financial advice and to an accelerated death benefit than can give an insured early access to as much as 75% of the insured’s combined basic and supplemental life insurance benefit amount, up to a maximum of $500,000.

The legal benefits package includes the usual access to Web-based estate-planning tools, but it also can provide in-office legal services for employees with supplemental life insurance who are eligible for accelerated benefit payments due to terminal illness, Aetna says.

The emotional support package provides access to telephonic bereavement and grief counseling services for members who are terminally ill, for beneficiaries of insureds who die, and for family members and caregivers of insureds who are terminally ill.

For members who are terminally ill, the Life Essentials package will provide direct access to licensed social workers.