Common Questions About Life Insurance
Life insurance companies have stellar records, in many cases dating back to before the Great Depression. To date, there has never been a recorded instance of a company not paying out a claim on a death benefit due to the company’s inability to do so.
With regard to the investment portion of the product, there are different types of life insurance products that allow the carrier more flexibility in how they invest the “holding tank” funds. These products range from conservative to aggressive and anywhere in between. Although there are pros and cons to all investment vehicles, utilizing insurance products that don’t place your cash value directly into the market, such as whole life insurance or indexed universal life insurance, typically offer modest growth potential with zero potential for loss through market exposure.
Life insurance is first and foremost just that: LIFE INSURANCE! And in many cases the death benefit paid out by life insurance policies is the most beneficial and useful aspect of the product. But the ability to aggressively build cash value and borrow from it tax-free can be an equally attractive and in some cases crucial part of one’s planning.
Consider using Tax-Free Loans for:
- College funding – Did you know that “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” (FAFSA) doesn’t look at the cash inside of a life insurance policy as an appropriate means for funding college education? That means that in many cases life insurance can be a used as a tool to help cover the cost of these expenses without disqualifying your children or grandchildren from student aid.
- Unexpected expenses – Depending on how it is structured, life insurance can offer growth potential without sacrificing much needed liquidity in times of emergency. And, since loans are borrowed from the policy on non-qualified (already-taxed) dollars, there is no limitation on how old one needs to be to withdraw funds from the account.
- Business needs – Life insurance can be structured to provide cash benefits to owners while also providing valuable coverage to the business. You can read more about this in the What Will Happen To My Business topic.
- Retirement – Many people find themselves deep into retirement with a life insurance policy that they may not need anymore. By choosing a policy with lots of growth potential, you can allow yourself the flexibility of utilizing the cash within your policy to supplement your other sources of retirement income tax-free.
Long-term cash accumulation:
- One of the key features of both whole life insurance and indexed universal life insurance is that your principal is protected from market volatility – it is kept safe and sound in the insurer’s conservative portfolio earning a low, safe rate of return.
- In fact, no one has ever lost their money to market volatility in these kinds of policies.
- However, higher returns can be achieved by using just the low yield to safely link your growth to a market index, such as the S&P 500. In this way, your principal is kept safe while exchanging the low guaranteed return for the potential to earn many times that.
Did you know that about 70% of people over the age of 65 will require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime?
According to recent studies conducted by the National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information (www.longtermcare.gov), more than 40% will need care in a nursing home. Do you have a plan to help cover these costs?
Why is it that some people don’t own long-term care insurance? Many say it is too expensive and they don’t want to pay for something they may never use. Fair enough – those are valid reasons! So how will you pay for long-term care?
- Rely on your children?
- Depend on Medicaid?
- Use your retirement savings?
- Continue working?
Discover the Real Need:
It is important to explore your options and plan ahead. How much coverage will you need?
- Take this planning quiz to help you decide! www.longtermcare.gov
- Find out the cost of care in your state: www.longtermcare.gov
Tax-free Death Benefit
When planning your legacy, unlike typical investments that may leave your family with a large tax burden when you die, life insurance allows you to leverage your money in a way that is free of taxes. The proceeds of life insurance are always tax-free. Life insurance is one of the easiest ways to transfer money from this generation to the next. Take a look at your full financial picture, and ask yourself 3 questions:
- Would my family’s lifestyle be drastically changed if I died tomorrow?
- Do I have enough saved to pay my debts, so that I don’t burden my loved ones?
- Will my retirement assets grow into a value that will be sufficient to see my spouse through their lifetime?
Avoid Regrets In the Future!
Are you looking for ways to reduce the size of your estate upon death? Are you concerned that the taxes incurred on your estate will significantly reduce the legacy you want to leave behind? Gifting is one way to solve this problem, but exactly how you gift money can make all the difference. Life insurance is an excellent strategy that maximizes your gifting dollars by providing a guaranteed higher value (the death benefit) that is tax-free to beneficiaries upon death.
Protecting Your Loved Ones
As we have already covered, life insurance is the best tool for income replacement during your primary income-earning years. It can also offer much needed cash to supplement the cost of estate taxes upon death. Did you also know that life insurance is very flexible and can be held inside a variety of trusts, thus protecting the benefits from creditors, probate, and other end-of-life hurdles?
No matter the size of your company, as a business owner, you have a responsibility to care for your employees, partners, and customers. The inherent flexibility of life insurance makes it an excellent tool for handling many problems that small business owners often face, such as employee retention, succession planning, and even deferred compensation.
Protect your business
Let’s say you have an employee who is of particular importance to a company. Maybe they are a designer for a clothing line and their good eye for style has made the company very successful. Or perhaps, they’re a technical person who understands systems within your company and without that person’s expertise; operations would come to a screeching halt. These types of people are extremely valuable to companies and, their untimely sudden removal can cause catastrophic financial loss to companies without proper protection.
Key-Person Coverage is purchased on a “key” employee to recoup the financial loss the business would incur upon the employee’s death. Key-Person insurance is owned and paid for by the company. This coverage can provide crucial business stability.
A typical business owner can often relate to phrases such as “asset rich” and “cash poor”, meaning they typically reinvest personal earnings into their business to build it up to sell later in life as a large part of a retirement plan. The problem arises when a business partner dies unexpectedly and their portion of the company is owed to their beneficiaries. Many times, the equity is tied up in other business assets and is completely inaccessible without selling large portions of the company, thus causing considerable financial loss to the surviving business partner(s).
How can life insurance help? By providing the much needed cash to a spouse or other beneficiaries to buy out the interest in a business without having to liquidate company assets. This is called a buy-sell agreement. In a nutshell, it is a legal contract restricting the right to dispose of a business interest to specified parties according to specified terms, and is most easily executed by life insurance.
Executive Bonuses and Deferred Compensation via Life Insurance
Sometimes called a section 162 plan, an executive bonus arrangement is a private, non-qualified means of rewarding select employees with permanent, cash value life insurance for the beneficiaries of the executive as well as potential for cash value accumulation. In essence, the executive takes out a life insurance policy on themselves, and the company bonuses the premiums paid by the employee. This bonus is a tax write-off for the company, and can be added to the cash value of the policy, and grown for the owner of the life policy, the employee.
This same process can be done as a deferred compensation program, whereby the company, not the employee, owns the life insurance policy and the premiums are paid outright by the company. This gives the company more control over the life insurance, but it still acts as a cash bonus to the executive.
Advantages to Cash Value Life Insurance as a Benefit to Employees.
- Provides valuable benefit to employee(s) at little or no expense.
- Flexibility: The business has discretion with regard to who will be covered and to what extent, unlike 401(k)’s. As opposed to traditional 401(k) plans where all employees must be able to contribute, in a 162 plan the business owner has flexibility to decide who receives the plan and can use this as a reward for higher earning employees.
- Extremely high contribution potential: Often, based on earnings, age, and other factors, employees can contribute tens of thousands of dollars into plans.
- Portable to employee.
- Potential future supplemental income: Because of the nature of the life insurance investments that are inside of section 162 plans, they are often provide more flexible and sustainable income streams as opposed to traditional 401(k) plans.