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Optimizing Retirement Income


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When we think of financial retirement strategies, our first thoughts are usually strategies involving Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) or annuities. And that makes sense. They are an important part of a secure retirement and they fill a vital need. Today, however, I’d like to throw out another idea— that of using life insurance to optimize retirement income.

Before I dive into the how, I want to start by looking at the financial lifecycle, which begins with your first job. The financial lifecycle has two components: human capital, or the ability to earn an income, and financial capital, or monetary wealth, built up over time. Human capital can be converted into financial capital as workers earn wages and save some of those earnings. For example, this occurs when deductions are withdrawn from workers’ paychecks and deposited into their 401(k) accounts.

Both human capital and financial capital are used over a couple’s lifetime to generate income. During their early working years, couples tend to have higher amounts of human capital and lower amounts of financial capital. As the working years wind down, human capital diminishes. Ideally, at the point of retirement, enough financial capital is in place to generate income for a couple as long as it is needed.

Let’s look at an example

A couple, both age 30 and both high-income earners. They plan to retire at age 65, giving them 30 years of human capital before we need to have it all converted to financial capital to fund their retirement. They each have a qualified plan balance of $125,000 and nonqualified balance of $25,000. Their annual qualified contributions are $19,000 each; nonqualified contributions are $25,000 each.

During their working years, life and disability income insurance are important in case of an immediate need. It’s also a time to plan for retirement, so we put annuities in place, and have the long-term care conversation to make sure they are prepared for an extended health care need. The qualified and nonqualified funds they are investing in are for retirement, as is a plan for long-term care. That’s when these solutions really come into play.

A continued need

After retirement, though, the need for life insurance doesn’t go away, although it might change a bit. Life insurance can be purchased to help achieve several different goals, including income protection, efficient wealth accumulation and wealth preservation

The key is to use life insurance to help with asset LOCATION. Why?

  • Asset location provides a tax-efficient vehicle for retirement savings
  • Asset location gives planners a vehicle to own tax-inefficient assets
  • Asset location can provide tax-diversification in retirement

All of this sounds great, but how do you do it? The short answer is by understanding Section 7702, which defines life insurance, modified endowment contracts (MECs) and tax-advantaged life insurance. The taxation of non-MEC life insurance is actually more favorable than many of the traditional retirement products.

 

Taxation of Life Insurance vs. Alternatives

 

Traditional IRA

Roth IRA

NQ Investments

Annuity

Life Insurance

Tax-Deductible

Yes

No

No

No

No

Tax-Deferred

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Tax-Free Distributions

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Tax-Free Legacy

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Unlimited Contributions

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes*

*Subject to suitability and financial justification limitations

 

Back to our couple of 30-year-olds, and how to apply this concept. Start with a minimum non-MEC death benefit, purchased with their nonqualified cash flow. This is will be funded now, while they are still converting human capital to financial capital. On retirement, the death benefit will be level.

Using their $25,000 annual nonqualified investment, we will cover a portion of their insurance need and utilize Section 7702 to create a favorable tax location all while reducing investment volatility.

In this example, the female earns a $1.3 million death benefit, net of savings, to age 65. Her projected cash value at retirement is $3 million, and her tax-free retirement income projection (age 65-90) is $230,000. The residual death benefit is $500,000.*

Make it work for your clients

We can help achieve similar results with your clients. Identify high earners between the ages of 20-55. Incorporate this concept into their term insurance strategy. It all starts with having the conversation. Then tap into your Ash resources. Our Life Sales team is always happy to help structure a plan that is the right fit for your individual client.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Using Allianz LifePro+ Advantage, Female PNS Age 30, $25,000 for 35 years. 6.9% assumed rate of return.

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Successful Outcomes – Advisor Wins from 2019


Protection

One of the most common threads I’ve seen in successful financial advisors is a tenacious focus on the client outcome. Outcomes are the results that outstanding advisors provide clients to achieve goals, solve problems and provide financial fulfillment. This is not to understate or minimize the process and client experience along the way – both of which are intensely important – but results provide advisors with tangible proof of their value to reinforce client relationships.

Let’s highlight three strategies that led to outstanding client results. I will take you through how advisors engaged with their insurance partners to solve problems and achieve the best outcome for their clients.

Outcome #1 – Business Succession Planning with Buy-Sell Partnerships

Early this year we had an advisor approach us with an opportunity to assist in putting together an insurance portfolio for two business partners. Let’s call them Jim and John. The two clients built an extremely successful manufacturing business that was well capitalized and generated significant cash flow. Jim and John needed to arrange a buy-sell agreement and funding strategy.

Based on the advisor’s discovery session with Jim and John, their goal was to ensure they had enough insurance coverage to fund the buy-sell arrangement, and they didn’t like the idea of “renting” term insurance. The clients believe that in 15-20 years they will be exiting the business and it is important to them to either have cash value built into their coverage that they could take with them or permanent insurance they could repurpose for estate planning. While this may sound relatively straightforward, the typical “cross-purchase” arrangement makes this more difficult to accomplish as the partners would essentially own each other’s policy. While cross-purchase is still a workable strategy, a more streamlined solution for this type of scenario is to establish a partnership to own the policies with an operating agreement that will govern the buy-sell.

The benefit of using a partnership to own and govern a buy-sell agreement is threefold.

  1. The structure allows the two business owners (equal owners of the partnership) to equally share in the cost of funding the coverage. Since Jim and John are relatively similar in age, it is not particularly relevant in this circumstance, but this is an issue often raised.
  2. This structure allows them to easily, upon exit of the business, distribute the policies to each insured rather than trying to negotiate a sale between two now-former business partners.
  3. The partnership structure avoids some of the transfer-for-value issues that can arise from other buy-sell arrangements (specifically for those clients considering a buy-sell trust if more than two business partners are involved).

The advisor suggested the clients consider creating a partnership agreement funded with cash-accumulating life insurance. Jim and John agreed to the strategy and began underwriting while also engaging with their attorney to draft the appropriate agreements.

Jim and John were both approved with favorable underwriting terms and put the advisor’s recommendation in place. Each of their policies is projected to last for their lifetime and have cash values at their target retirement age that well exceed the premiums paid. The outcome of this scenario is the coverage Jim and John needed with an ownership structure that accomplishes what they wanted.

Outcome #2 – Repositioning the Right Assets for Healthcare in Retirement

The fastest-growing line of business at Ash is our long-term care business or, perhaps more appropriately named, our healthcare in retirement business. In speaking with advisors across the country, there is a palpable demand from their clients for solutions to fund potential long-term healthcare events. Virtually everyone has now witnessed a grandparent or parent go through an extended care event and the strife and complexity that often accompanies it. The question is no longer if a client will need care, but when and how to fund the care.

One of our most successful advisors found a unique funding mechanism to seamlessly provide his clients with a substantial amount of LTC coverage without impacting their cash flow or investable assets. This advisor has a group of clients with significant cash accumulations in underperforming whole life contracts. These contracts were earning a relatively modest, albeit safe, rate of return every year and required an annual outlay. Few clients needed the insurance death benefit and the money in the contracts was more of a contingency pool of assets rather than dollars needed for retirement income.

Knowing that one of the primary reasons a client might need those “contingency” whole life dollars is a significant long-term healthcare event, the advisor looked for a different strategy. The advisor recommended a tax-free exchange to an asset-based long-term care policy. Asset-based LTC is relatively simple: The client deposits money with the insurance company (since this was a rollover, it was a single lump sum) and in return gets a pool of dollars for long-term care that is often three-five times the initial lump sum and is indexed for inflation. In some of this advisor’s cases, the LTC pool of dollars represents a tax-free internal rate of return in excess of 8% at life expectancy. The drawback of the asset-based strategy is a very modest death benefit –  essentially a return of the premium. Since this group of clients weren’t concerned with death benefit, but knew the impact of an LTC event, this solution fit very well.

This advisor was able to provide his clients with certainty and peace of mind about long-term care, all with very little disruption to the client’s financial picture. By repositioning an asset that was no longer serving the client’s needs, he was able to mitigate one of the biggest risks in retirement, a long-term health event. This is a very positive outcome.


Outcome #3 – Annuity Restructure

This summer, we had an advisor approach us with a client who had been oversold a portfolio of annuities. The annuities had significant surrender schedules, high fees for guaranteed income riders, and the client (let’s call him Joe) had no need for the income in retirement. These annuities were ultimately going to pass to Joe’s family, and he was relatively unsure why he had acquired them.

Joe’s advisor brought his portfolio of annuities to Ash and asked us to help model some scenarios integrating insurance. We put together projections for maintaining the current annuity portfolio but also looked at using the guaranteed income features to fund an insurance strategy for the client. The insurance strategies created a far more compelling net result for the client and added in some potential long-term care coverage as well.

The outcome for this client was a better, more sound planning result that was a custom fit for his circumstances, not an advisor’s commission statement. Our models proved the value of insurance and created a platform for this client to make the right decision.


2019 was a great year, and by focusing on bringing solutions to every client, every time, we can keep this momentum going in 2020. And beyond.   

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How to Overcome 5 Life Insurance Myths


Protection

Sometimes, helping my advisors sell life insurance is an uphill battle – with them and their clients. I know it’s not the sexy choice, and it’s not an exciting solution that’s going to help people make a million bucks. But, it does enable peace of mind, which can be more valuable in and of itself. 

With many years behind the scenes and out in the field, I’ve heard a lot of excuses. But, many of them just aren’t true. Advisors and clients are relying on myths, not facts, when considering life insurance.  

 

1) Employer-provided life insurance is enough

Ask your clients: Is the amount really enough to cover your needs? Can you keep your policy when you retire or change jobs? 

Many employers provide life insurance equal to one to two times the employee’s annual salary, and they may be able to purchase up to four to six times their salary. First of all, to replace a client’s income for their dependents, they typically need five to eight times their annual income – some experts even recommend 10 to 12 times. Second, their calculated “salary” doesn’t typically include commissions, bonuses, and second incomes. A needs analysis calculator can help you determine the amount of coverage your clients need. 

Even if they do have enough insurance through their job, you’re clients will likely lose their coverage when they leave. That’s they should only include their employer’s policy in covering their needs if they can take it with them at affordable rates. Otherwise, consider it a bonus. Plus, they may be able to get a better deal on their own, especially if they’re young and/or in above average health.

 

2) Only the breadwinner needs life insurance

Ask your clients: If your spouse works, how would you replace their income in your household budget? If your spouse stays at home, how would you replace their value in child care, cleaning and other household operations? What’s that add up to over several years? 

Are you kidding me?! Spouses who earn less or are non-working are extremely important, and their contribution to your household needs to be protected. If you haven’t already, you should read my colleague Sharlene Woerther’s blog for more information on why spouses need life insurance. 

This is yet another reason why it’s so important to do a needs analysis with your clients. Once it’s been put to paper, it’s amazing how many people see the value in their spouse’s contributions. Insuring a spouse also gives the remaining parent the opportunity to take time off work and help the family adjust to their loss.

 

3) Life insurance is really expensive

Ask your clients: What do you spend on soda and snacks in a month? Could you give that up to protect the ones you love? 

I use to tell clients that often times you can get life insurance for what amounts to a bag of chips and pop a day. Since then I’ve changed my diet, so I no longer buy those things anyway … but I wasn’t too far off with my estimates. You should run a quick quote for your clients and show them the real costs!

A study conducted by Life Happens and LIMRA found that 30 percent of Americans acknowledge their need for more life insurance, but only 10 percent planned to purchase it within the next year. The main reason given was cost, with 65 percent saying that it’s too expensive. However, 80 percent of them overestimated the cost. While the cost for a health 30-year-old would be about $160 a year, the average estimate was nearly twice as high. 

 

4) Only healthy people can get coverage

Ask your clients: Are your conditions under control? When was the last time you looked into coverage? 

Don’t worry if your clients aren’t able to run a marathon or keep up with a fitness video on TV – they don’t have to be perfectly fit to qualify. Yes, the healthiest people pay the lowest premiums, but the life insurance industry has come a long way I just a few years. Many who were deemed uninsurable in the past can now receive coverage. 

A lot of companies cover a range of health conditions, and some even specialize in high-risk cases. Clients can also purchase a policy that is not medically underwritten at all – just be aware that they tend to be more expensive and have lower coverage limits.

 

5) Young people don’t need life insurance

Ask your clients: Do you know of someone who died too young? Have you ever seen a Go Fund Me page to raise money for a person’s family after they’ve died? 

Social media is littered with examples of young families who’ve been impacted by the loss of a spouse or loved one under the age of 40. Accidents and illnesses can happen to anyone at any age. 

The bottom line? If your clients have anyone who depends on them financially, they should have live insurance. Help debunk the myths and make sure they’re covered. 

 

Learn More

 

About the Author

As a relationship manager at Ash Brokerage, Jason O’Barr is a teammate for advisors – identifying new sales opportunities, providing consultative and comprehensive insurance support services, and effectively helping advisors grow their businesses. With experience as a producer, a marketer and an internal wholesaler, he understands the process from the ground up.

life insurance myths needs analysis

Ask an Underwriter: Cervical Cancer


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Know the impact on health and underwriting

Cervical cancer may be one of the most treatable and preventable cancers out there, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about it. Education is important – not only for prevention and early detection, but also for underwriting. 

According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), each year, an estimated 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and one-third will die as a result. So even though the overall risk of cervical cancer has declined over the last few decades, it’s still a serious issue. 

Causes of cervical cancer

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common infection known to cause cell changes on the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States – so common, in fact, nearly all sexually active men and women will get it at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control

Cervical cancer is preventable

Insuring Cervical Cancer

When it comes to insurance, your clients’ participation in regular Pap screenings not only helps reduce the risk of advanced cancer, it may also be viewed as a credit during the underwriting process. 

Earlier detection and successful treatment rates have also increased the insurability of individuals with a history of cervical cancer. Someone with a low-grade diagnosis can potentially secure a non-rated offer, and someone with a high-grade/early stage diagnosis could qualify for rated offers within a year, and possibly standard rates after three years. 

With so many variables involved – from the diagnosis/treatment details to carrier risk assessment – we’ve created a comprehensive questionnaire to assist you in your fact-finding efforts. 

No matter the situation, we encourage you to ask questions and get all the facts. Have a specific question? Check out the resources below or drop me a line and we'll be happy to help.

 

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About the Author

Dianne Leidigh has earned an unwavering reputation, among customers and constituents alike, as a respected partner and trusted resource. Through her personal commitment to continuous professional growth, she’s become an Associate of the Life Management Institute, Associate of Customer Service with LOMA, and an Associate of the Academy of Life Underwriting. As Dianne approaches her second decade in the brokerage life insurance industry, much of which dedicated to advocating risk, her passion for helping others, commitment to personal growth, and perseverance truly yield winning solutions!  

 

life insurance underwriting ask an underwriter cancer cervical cancer

Plants and Policies: A little care goes a long way


Protection

 

Editor’s Note: Because the need for regular insurance policy reviews never goes away, we decided to re-publish this post from 2015. When you’re done reading, be sure to water your plants – then go review your clients’ coverage. 

 

It’s that time of year again! Houseplant Appreciation Day (celebrated Jan. 10) is finally upon us. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since we last took the time to celebrate the bond between man and shrub.

Houseplants offer many benefits: They filter our air, look great and can even reduce stress. As we all know, constant time, attention and care are all required to successfully tend to our green friends. Many of us are more than up to the task. 

Why then, do we neglect to care for one of our clients’ most important financial instruments: their life insurance?

Most financial professionals agree that a client’s life insurance holding should be reviewed every couple of years, or after any major life event (marriage, birth of a child, new job, retirement, etc.) If your clients own any form of cash value life insurance, reviewing the coverage regularly is even more important. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. 

Maybe it’s lack of insurance knowledge that keeps us from contacting our clients. Maybe we want to avoid the image of the “salesman.” Maybe we don’t even know who to ask for help. Whatever the reason, our Life Insurance Portfolio Analysis (LIPA) team can help you care for your clients’ policies and keep them from “wilting.” 

The Ash LIPA team is a dedicated group of people who specialize in the review of in-force life insurance. With a signed authorization from the policy owner or trustee, and a couple other items, they can order information from the issuing insurance company to “stress test” the health and viability of any insurance policy. 

After the in-force policy performance has been reviewed, the team can look at the marketplace today and determine if there are any potential improvements to be made. The life insurance industry is a fluid marketplace; products are constantly changing and evolving, just as your houseplants are constantly growing!

All joking aside, as financial professionals, life insurance review is critical for our clients. The consequences of a poorly managed policy can be devastating.  

So, on this Houseplant Appreciation Day, as you take time to celebrate the indoor flora in your life (or not) at least remember this: Your clients’ policies are like your houseplants – they don’t require a lot of upkeep, but they do require regular attention if you want them to thrive. 


About the Author

As part of the LIPA team at Ash Brokerage, Scott Behrendsen’s goal is to not only ensure clients have the best possible protection, but to also present the planning strategies and concepts in a concise format that’s easy to understand. He’s been in the insurance industry for 10 years, working in annuities, broker-dealer operations, and health insurance before joining Ash Brokerage. He has an extensive background in life insurance case design and advanced strategies. He’s currently pursuing an MBA in marketing.

 

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