I can’t believe that 2004 was already a decade ago – things have changed since then! George W. was re-elected for his second term as president of the United States, a massive tsunami hit the Pacific Rim area, and Facebook was in its infancy and only available to college students.
Mixed up in all that was the start of the 2003 IRS rulings on the tax changes made to split-dollar plans – how that was lost in the mix, we’ll never know. Specifically, let’s talk about the changes to “collateral assignment” arrangements.
The IRS changed the favorable tax treatment of the premiums that were paid by the employer on behalf of the employee. These payments became considered loans, and the employee has to pay a “sufficient” interest rate as determined under the regulations, instead of the “interest free” loans that were allowed prior. If the loan doesn’t meet the adequate rate of interest, then regulations have a complex system of deemed interest flowing to the employee as income and then back to the employer as interest.*
Most companies and executives thought this was the end of the split-dollar train, but as Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend!” If set up properly, split-dollar plans still have a wide array of viability to attract and retain key employees and executives in the business marketplace.
Split-dollar life insurance is widely used in gift and estate planning and can be an important part of the compensation package for key employees. Your clients don't have to cover all their employees – the coverage, amount and terms of the split-dollar arrangement are generally not subject to the nondiscrimination rules of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Split-dollar plans can be used to:
Put it in Practice: Don’t be afraid of something that happened more than a decade ago. With interest rates at near all-time lows, collateral assignment split-dollar arrangements might be a key to your clients’ recruitment, retention and success for the foreseeable future. Contact the Ash Brokerage Advanced Markets team to get started.
*The Sarbanes-Oxley Act made it illegal for a company that is publicly traded to loan funds to an officer or director, and certain other key employees.
A steady income is a lifeline for most working people, but these days, it seems there’s less to go around. Americans feel like their paychecks are being stretched thinner, a recent Gallup Poll confirms. Other than the recent drop in gas prices, when was the last time you bought something and the price had gone down? Some expenses, like health care, can increase significantly each year.
According to a study by the Brookings Institute, more than 25 million middle class American families are living paycheck to paycheck. It’s no shock the study also found, “Those living paycheck to paycheck have a tougher time weathering income shocks, such as illnesses or bouts of unemployment.”
So, adding a new expense – like disability insurance – to an already leveraged paycheck could be a hard-sell for your clients. But the REAL struggle would be not having a paycheck at all if they were sick or hurt. According to the Council for Disability Awareness, less than 5 percent of disabling accidents or sicknesses are work related, and therefore would NOT qualify for workers compensation.
Disabilities happen to people every day. They may not be life threatening, and they may not last for years, but even a couple months without a paycheck may create long-term financial and mental hardship. Yes, disability insurance is another expense, but it will provide priceless help should an accident or illness strike.
Put it in Practice: Help your clients look past the expense of disability insurance and see the value of paycheck protection. Plus, getting them covered when they’re healthy and young makes the process easier and costs less money. Talk to the Ash Brokerage DI team today!
“Intrinsic value is not measured by how much money you make; it’s measured by the size of the problem you solve.” -Joe Jordan
Thirty percent of U.S. households have no life insurance protection at all. Among those that do own life insurance, 50 percent believe they don’t have enough coverage.* The question I ask myself is this: “Who’s taking responsibility to make sure these families are protected?”
Last year, a close family friend succumbed to Leukemia. It was a two-year battle that included hope and gloom, joy and sadness, relief and desperation. When modern medicine was no longer enough to beat back her cancer, her family tried experimental drugs. When those failed, their only hope was prayer and a miracle. When she passed last fall, she left behind three young daughters, a husband and a heartbroken family.
There’s nothing our industry can do to bring this family’s mother back, and nothing we can offer to bring this man’s wife back – but what we can do is still significant. It’s beyond simply providing a check with a few zeros. We can make sure this family has the resources to provide childcare when Dad goes back to work, and we can make sure he doesn’t need to quit his passion (teaching school) in order to maintain their lifestyle. We can also make sure these girls can afford to go to college and have the resources to follow their dreams.
What we can give is peace of mind in the darkest of moments. What we can give helps families, businesses and charities to weather the storms that life inevitably gives us. What we can give helps men and women leave legacies that last long after they’re gone.
This brings me back to my question and leads me to the answer. “Who’s taking responsibility to ensure that these families are protected?” We are.
*LIMRA: “Facts About Life 2013”
During this month of love, take a minute to reflect on what long-term care insurance really does for people. I know long-term care means different things to different people. Is it about financial independence? Is it about keeping your dignity? Is it about choice? Yes, it is. But even more importantly, it is about FAMILY! When someone needs care, they will get care. But their family is likely to bear the burden of being a caregiver, or trying to find a caregiver.
I am writing this as I am reflecting on the passing of my wife’s grandmother (Mimi). From the moment my wife and I started dating, I can remember all of the family gatherings. They happened at least once a month. Homemade pasta sauce and meatballs. Ribs that were baked in the oven. Playing catch in the backyard with the football, and the late nights just sitting around talking and laughing about everything going on. Well, that all ended about nine years ago … Dec. 11, 2005, to be exact. This is when Rachael’s grandpa (Boppie) had his heart attack.
Family came in from everywhere as the doctors were giving him about 48 hours. Surgery wasn’t an option, so the blockages were left intact. Well, nine years later, he is still with us … but the family has been his caregivers. That was just the beginning, however. Family gatherings became less frequent and eventually, Mimi’s health started going downhill as well.
Without giving a play by play of the last five years, I will say that this family has been torn apart. Mimi spent her last months in a nursing home, trying to recover from surgery. My mother-in-law has spent the last five years as a caregiver, when she should have been a daughter being able to spend time with her parents during their last years. We were able to spend time together over this past Thanksgiving … then our next family gathering was just a week later, at Mimi’s funeral.
Getting back to thinking about why we do what we do … This family was so torn apart that two of my wife’s cousins, who were with us in Chicago, didn’t take time out of their busy schedules to go and see Mimi. She was 20 minutes down the road. The love is gone, the caring is gone … let’s face it, the family is gone. I expect we won’t have another family gathering until Boppie passes away. I was extremely thankful to spend time with him and see Mimi one last time, but I am also heartbroken over what has come out of this.
When we are having discussions with clients, we need to get to the heart of what we do. We keep families together! If you have a story, share it and make it personal. If you don’t, you can use mine. I challenge our advisors to remember the importance of what we do, and not just give a quote to their clients. It has never been easier to talk about long-term care, but it is definitely harder to sell because it has been about price for so long. Let’s look past the price and into what this really means: FAMILY!
Finding and keeping the best employees is critical to success in business. Your business owner and executive clients likely know this already. But do they know you can help them attract and retain top talent? Here’s how:
Nonqualified plans are attractive savings alternatives for highly compensated employees. Essentially, they are an additional way to save for retirement without the restrictions of qualified plan contributions.
Deferred compensation, supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs) and phantom stock plans operate similarly. Phantom stock plans are deferred compensation/SERPs where the crediting (growth) rate is tied to the company stock price, not insurance policy subaccounts and/or mutual funds.
A few reasons your clients should consider a nonqualified plan:
Methods of funding nonqualified plans:
Put it in Practice: Talk to your business owner or executive clients about the benefits and options available with nonqualified plans. Call the Ash Brokerage Advanced Markets team for more resources and assistance!
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