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Annuity SeniorsThe good news is we're living longer. But the prospect of a longer life expectancy means we risk outliving our retirement savings. If the thought of receiving a steady stream of income that lasts for the rest of your life appeals to you, a single premium immediate annuity (SPIA) might be worth considering.

How does it work?

Unlike a deferred annuity, which is designed for long-term savings, a SPIA begins to make payments to you immediately. In exchange for a lump sum of money you pay to an insurance company, you'll receive an income that can last for the rest of your life. The amount of income you receive is based on a number of factors, including your age at the time payments begin, your gender, whether payments will be made to only you or jointly to you and another person, and whether payments will be made for a fixed period of time or for the rest of your life or joint lives.

You have options

Most immediate annuities include a number of payment options. The more common payment options are:

Life only. Payments continue during your lifetime, but stop at your death.

Period certain. Payments are made for a fixed period of time (e.g., 5, 10, 15, 20 years). If you die prior to the end of the chosen period, your beneficiary will continue to receive payments for the remainder of the fixed period.

Life with a period certain. Payments are made for the rest of your life or a minimum period of time. If you die prior to the end of the minimum payment period, the beneficiary you name in the annuity will receive the payments for the remainder of the period certain, but no longer. If you outlive the period certain, payments will end at your death.

Joint and survivor. Payments are based on the lives of two people, typically you and your spouse. When either of you dies, payments continue to be made to the survivor. This option can also be combined with a period certain option, in which case payments will continue until both of you have died or for the minimum period of time you select, whichever is longer.

Installment refund/cash refund. If you die prior to receiving at least the return of your investment in the immediate annuity, your beneficiary will receive an amount equal to the difference between what you invested and what you received. Your beneficiary will receive this amount in either a lump sum (cash refund) or periodic payments (installment refund).

The amount of each SPIA payment you get can be affected by the payment option you select.

Let's take a look at a hypothetical example., a 60-year-old man who invests $100,000 in an immediate annuity may receive annual payments of $7,260 for the life only option, $6,696 for life with a period certain of 20 years, or $7,920 for a fixed period of 20 years. (This example is for illustration purposes only and does not reflect actual insurance products or performance, nor is it intended to promote a specific company or product.)

Are there taxes to pay?

Generally, you pay income taxes on that portion of each payment that represents earnings or interest credited to the immediate annuity. The remaining portion of each payment is considered a return of your investment and is tax free.

Other factors to consider

While a SPIA can offer a measure of relief from retirement income concerns, as with most investments, there are other factors to consider. Generally, once you invest in a SPIA, your payments are "locked in" with little flexibility, although there may be some exceptions. Normally, you don't have access to the principal unless the annuity provides for it, so be sure the payment option you select will meet your income needs. Also, consider whether there are other investment choices available that may better suit your retirement income goals. Your Stage 2 Advisor may be able to present different options, including a SPIA, for you to consider when deciding how to best meet your retirement income needs.

I’m always interested in hearing about ideas you might have for creating retirement income.  If you would like to discuss this topic further, please contact me at Jpatrick@stage2planning.com. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Josh Patrick

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© 2011 Stage 2 Planning Partners. All rights reserved.

DISCLOSURE: Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated. This article is published on a site for residents of the United States only. 

Registered Representatives and Investment Adviser Representatives of NFP Securities, Inc. may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered.  Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed.  Not all of the products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed.  NFP Securities, Inc. does not provide tax or legal advice.  Any decisions whether to implement these ideas should be made by the client in consultation with professional financial, tax, and legal counsel. Asset protection plans should be developed and implemented well before problems arise. Due to the fraudulent transfer laws, asset transfers that occur close in proximity to the filing of a lawsuit or bankruptcy can be interpreted by the court as a fraudulent transfer. Proper structuring of these assets is imperative. Please seek proper legal and tax advice prior to engaging in re-titling/structuring of any assets. Please note that laws are subject to change and can have an impact on your asset protection strategy.

Single Premium Immediate Annuities make fixed payments for a contracted timeframe.  Payments, which consist of principal and interest, are typically not adjusted for inflation so the buying power of the payments issued may erode over time.  Please note the decision to annuitize is irrevocable, and principal cannot be withdrawn at a rate greater than the contracted payout rate.  All guarantees are subject to the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.  

Topics: wealth management, investment management, annuities

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