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Insured Annuity-Lifetime Income and Estate Security

Today’s retirees are faced with the dilemma of securing an income that they will not outlive while investing in an uncertain equity market and a fixed income market paying historically low rates of return.  One strategy that can form part of the solution is the use of a Life Annuity or, for those concerned about estate values an Insured Life Annuity.

Take the 75 year old widow and let’s assume we are looking at $100,000 of investable assets (which is just part of her total investable assets). If she invests this in a GIC type of investment she would be doing well in today’s market (September 2012) to get an interest rate of about 2.5%.   Her annual income would be $2.500 but this is fully taxable income. Let’s assume a marginal tax rate of 30% so she would net about $1,750 after tax. Years later she would still have the full $100,000 capital which she could draw on if necessary but could also have this remain as part of her estate value for her estate beneficiaries.

As one alternative she could purchase a Life Annuity which provides her with a guaranteed lifetime income for as long as she lives. (We won’t go into all the annuity options available in this article). This provides her with the comfort of knowing she will not outlive her income.  The income provided from this annuity would be about $7,440 per annum or more (typically paid in monthly instalments).  Under the prescribed Income Tax regulation the taxable portion of this income would only be about $300 so the tax would only be about $100 meaning the net annual income would be about $7,340 (guaranteed for life). This is about 4.2 times more net income per year. True, she has given up the ability to access the 100,000 during her lifetime but this should not be an issue if these funds are only a part of her total investable assets. In short, this strategy provides the client with piece of mind knowing she will not outlive her income, her income has been significantly enhanced and she has no ongoing investment worries or concerns with respect to this arrangement.

The potential obvious issue with this solution is, of course, that the estate value of the $100,000 will be reduced to NIL if the Life Annuity is purchased (subject to any guarantees built into the annuity and its pricing). For many clients this is not an issue or concern as their primary concern is their own lifetime security and ensuring they do not become a burden for their children.

If estate value is an issue then a portion of the increased income can be used to pay for a life insurance policy for up to $100,000 (or more if desired) to ensure some estate value. Assuming she is insurable the cost of a $100,000 policy at age 75 (female, non smoker) would be about $5,340 per annum.  So if the full estate recovery strategy is implemented the net income increase would be about $250 per annum. This is only about a 15% enhancement but it also provides (as noted above) piece of mind knowing she will not outlive her income, her income has been enhanced and she has no ongoing investment worries or concerns with respect to this arrangement.

There are many factors which must be taken into account in structuring retirement income strategy and this is worthy of consideration.



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