Are you considering an annuity? Does an annuity fit into your financial plan? These are the questions that we’re going to answer today so that you can secure your retirement in the best way possible for you.
Our clients ask us a lot about annuities, so we want to help you determine whether an annuity fits into your retirement plan.
Understanding That an Annuity is an Insurance Product
An annuity is an insurance product that you’re buying into. You’re purchasing the annuity from an insurance company, so it’s crucial to evaluate the insurance company. For us, we always look at the company’s financial security so that we know whether the company can withstand market fluctuations or dips in revenue.
You can find rating systems for each company.
Rating systems can help you understand how well-rated a company is and whether a company is a good choice for you.
There’s also protection through a legal reserve, which is similar to having the FDIC insure money that you have in the bank.
Breaking Down What a Legal Reserve System Offers
Legal reserve systems have been around for a long time. The IRS wanted insurance companies to have a guarantee in place to protect consumers. Insurers work together to operate in the United States.
For example, if one insurance company goes bankrupt, other insurance companies often:
- Purchase parts of or the entire business
- Keep contracts the same
In essence, the reserve part adds safety elements by having significant reserves in place to cover payouts and other expenses. Legal reserves cannot be leveraged. Instead, the insurer must have reserves to back any guarantees they offer.
Due to the multiple systems in place, if a reserve gets low, they’ll be barred from offering more insurance until the reserves are restored.
In short, the legal reserve is a safeguard against an insurer going bankrupt and the consumer losing all of their insurance in the process.
Tax Benefits of an Annuity
Annuities offer tax benefits, but the benefits depend on what type of money is placed in the annuity. Basically, you have:
- Qualified money. Your retirement plan money. These are financial vehicles that have not been taxed yet.
- Non-qualified money. Money that has been taxed already, such as capital gains.
You should understand your balance of money, based on these two classifications, before getting into an annuity.
Once you understand the multiple financial buckets that you have, you can better understand the benefits of an annuity in your situation.
For example, if you have non-qualified money from a brokerage account, it’s often a good thing to put it into an annuity because it will grow tax deferred. So, if you put $100,000 in the account that you’ve paid taxes on, growth is tax-deferred.
Annuities make taxes easier and won’t require you to have to work through complex taxes every year.
However, let’s say that you have a lot of qualified money in an IRA. You can roll the IRA funds into an IRA annuity. When you go into an IRA annuity, you’re putting pre-tax money into your account.
Retirees don’t want to heavily withdraw from an IRA because of the tax consequences.
Due to these complex situations, it’s crucial to understand how an annuity works and the tax benefits they offer you.
Why Should You Use an Annuity Retirement?
Retirement planning must be strategic. An annuity can be beneficial in numerous ways, and we like to break annuities down into three main scenarios where they make sense:
- Income Planning
- Safety Alternative
- Tax Deferment
When you structure an annuity, you can do so in a way that offers a guaranteed income that you’ll never outlive. The income will always be there.
If the annuity is an IRA, you’ll be taxed on it.
When we work with clients that only need to withdraw 2% to 3% of their retirement per year, it often doesn’t make sense to have an annuity.
You’ll either have a fee or a lower rate of return.
Safety, or bond, alternatives are a good reason to have an annuity. Let’s assume that you have a low threshold for market fluctuations. Bonds go up and down, so investing in an annuity can offer a guarantee that bonds cannot offer and help you better manage risk.
Risk conversations are huge in retirement planning because it ensures that you have money for tomorrow.
Annuities allow you to invest in the market at 100% tax deferment and with negligible fees. For tax deferment, you have the option of liquidity and tax deferment with an annuity.
How an Income Rider Works
As an income rider, the overall annuity has two sides:
- Account value
- Income account value
Account values grow at the annuity interest rate. However, on the income account value, you have a little step up that you can leverage. For example, maybe your income increases by 5% or 7%. Since these accounts are designed to outlive you, the income account value will always rise more than the actual account value.
When you sign up for an income rider, you’re asking the insurer to guarantee an income for the rest of your life.
However, you cannot withdraw the money from the account in its entirety.
An income rider can be added to an annuity, acts independent from your contract, and allows for peace of mind that you can make a certain minimum withdrawal from the account every month.
A rider may or may not make sense for you, but it’s something you’ll want to consider.
Initially, you’ll have a period of 5 or 10 years where you won’t receive an income. This time period really allows the account to grow and build up the value you need to retire with guaranteed income coming in every month.
Annuities may or may not fit into your overall retirement plan, but they’re certainly something to consider for everyone nearing retirement.
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