Insurance can be a great way to diversify those assets, save for retirement, and pay for health care related expenses in your golden years.
I came across a great article on using life insurance as a means of wealth accumulation from American General. With so many options available for your life insurance, insurance companies are constantly packing policies full of benefits for health care spending and retirement benefits. A well designed life insurance policy can:
- Diversify your assets.
- Give you a Roth alternative that is not hindered by IRS regulations on income.
- Create an alternative income stream in retirement.
- Tax efficient strategy to pass wealth to your children or grand children.
- Death benefits can be accelerated to pay for both chronic illness and long-term care spending.
Getting Retirement Ready with Life Insurance
by Mark Peterson
Senior Vice President, Independent Distribution, AIG Financial Distributors
Planning for retirement can be a struggle. When seeking a strategic approach, it may be helpful to think of each dollar that’s being put toward retirement as going through three phases: contribution, accumulation and distribution. To help achieve a financially solid base for retirement, the funds ideally would grow in each phase. That doesn’t always happen, but leveraging life insurance is one way to potentially counter obstacles on the road to retirement.
The difficulty with some traditional retirement vehicles, such as 401(k) accounts and individual retirement accounts (IRAs), is that if maximum marginal tax rates rise, as they have recently, these accounts may become less effective at preserving wealth. The benefits of making deductible contributions and enjoying tax-deferred growth may be outweighed by high marginal tax rates when the need to begin making taxable, mandatory withdrawals (required minimum distributions, or RMDs) kicks in, currently at age 70 ½. (Keep in mind that all tax statements in this blog post are based on current tax law and that a qualified tax expert should be consulted when considering one’s individual circumstances.)
In addition, when IRA or 401(k) plan assets pass through inheritance to the owner’s (non-spouse) beneficiaries, they do so as regular income and often are taxed at high rates, as beneficiaries often are in their peak earning years and are subject to correspondingly peak tax rates.
Watching for Potholes
Some retirement plans address these problems by allowing participants to accumulate and distribute assets without paying taxes, although with a significant drawback: the initial contributions are nondeductible. The Roth IRA is an example of this type of plan. In addition to providing a vehicle for tax-deferred growth and zero taxation on qualified distributions, the Roth IRA requires no mandatory withdrawals by the owner, and the money passes income-tax-free to the beneficiaries after the owner’s death. But again, initial contributions are nondeductible.
This information is general in nature, may be subject to change, and does not constitute legal, tax or accounting advice from any company, its employees, financial professionals or other representatives. Applicable laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Any tax statements in this material are not intended to suggest the avoidance of U.S. federal, state or local tax penalties. For advice concerning your individual circumstances, consult a professional attorney, tax advisor or accountant.
Policies issued by American General Life Insurance Company (AGL) except in New York, where issued by The United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York (US Life). Issuing companies AGL and US Life are responsible for financial obligations of insurance products and are members of American International Group, Inc. (AIG). Products may not be available in all states and product features may vary by state. Guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.
AIG is the marketing name for the worldwide property-casualty, life and retirement, and general insurance operations of American International Group, Inc. For additional information, please visit our website at www.aig.com. All products and services are written or provided by subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group, Inc. Products or services may not be available in all countries, and coverage is subject to actual policy language.
LIRP Blog: Getting Retirement Ready with Life Insurance . . . pg2
The Roth IRA also has other drawbacks which may be significant for some people, particularly high-income earners. Single taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross incomes exceed $132,000 (and married couples who file jointly, with adjusted gross incomes above $194,000) are ineligible to contribute to Roth IRAs.
Even for people with incomes below those thresholds, the Roth IRA, like its traditional IRA cousin, limits maximum annual contributions to $5,500 (or $6,500 for people ages 50 or beyond). Also, people who skip making contributions to a Roth IRA in one or more years are not allowed to “make up” the contributions later; those potential contributions and the benefits that may have accrued to them are lost.
Finding A Way Forward
Despite their drawbacks, a 401(k) account, an IRA or a Roth IRA may be useful in retirement planning. However, their utility may be greatly enhanced when other financial products are utilized to help offset some of the limitations and add diversification to a retirement plan.
Life insurance is a prominent example. The IRS does not impose limits on the amount of life insurance premiums a person can pay or the amount of money someone can earn while still being allowed to fund life insurance premiums. Additionally, with a properly structured life insurance solution, the policy holder has the option to miss a payment, or make only a partial payment, and then contribute the missed amount anytime.
Furthermore, life insurance death benefits generally pass income-tax-free to beneficiaries after the policy holder’s death. And unlike a 401(k), an IRA or a Roth IRA, life insurance is a “self-completing” asset. If the insurance policy terms have been met, beneficiaries may receive the full death benefit even if the policy holder died before the contract was fully funded.