When You're Sixty-Four

When You’re Sixty-Four

GuitarSeptember 14, 2015 – Even some of the staunchest Beatles fans are surprised to learn that one catchy tune from the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album about reaching a certain age was one of the first songs Paul McCartney ever wrote, by some accounts as early as age 16 when the band was still calling itself The Quarrymen.

Give “the cute Beatle” points for looking almost fifty years into the future to ponder love, life and, even if he was doing so unintentionally, joint life expectancy.

Today, married couples probably don’t think enough about joint life expectancy but if they want to make sure their retirement assets last as long as they do, they should.

Fortunately, one “band” that calls itself the Society of Actuaries (SOA) thinks about this kind of thing a lot. These studious lads (and lasses) may never have charted any singles but the work they do is as vital to life as music, if not more so.

In its Phase 1 (of a four-phase project) Baseline July, 2015 research newsletter on “Optimal Retirement Income Solutions in DC Plans,” the SOA authors analyze various retirement income generators (RIGs) with the goal of evaluating the pros and cons of each method to find the optimum solution for ensuring steady cash flow for life.

(Full Disclosure: One of the authors, Dr. Wade Pfau, was one of my professors during my Retirement Income Certified Professional® studies through The American College)

Quotable Highlights

This report is YET ANOTHER in a series of studies we keep finding that points to the advantage of life annuities to meet one’s future income needs.

Here are a few of the highlights we especially liked with our own emphasis added:

“RIGs that pool longevity risk (annuities) provide higher expected lifetime retirement income than investing approaches that self-fund longevity risk.” (p. 8)

“An effective compromise may be retirement income solutions that dedicate a portion of savings to annuities and remaining assets to investing solutions to realize the advantages of both.” (p. 9)

(NOTE: Check out some of our recent newsletters and blog posts. We’ve been advocating this approach for years.)

“Traditional annuities produce higher expected average retirement income than SWP (Standard Withdrawal Plan) strategies due to longevity pooling.” (p. 12)

This last one is worth analyzing a bit further.

The classic “four percent” draw down approach (a common SWP where retirement assets are invested in a mix of stocks and bonds and retirees withdraw four percent of the principal each year to live on hoping what remains will earn enough to allow the money to last a lifetime) has recently been called into question.

So much so than this SOA paper didn’t even consider this approach as an option since prior research “showed this method failed (savings were exhausted) in unfavorable investment scenarios.” (p.14)

    Translation: The four percent thing works great when it works. But it doesn’t always work.

Saving the best part of the report for last, it doesn’t get any more straightforward than what the authors concluded about single premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) for a hypothetical sixty-five year old female with $250,000 in retirement assets:

“SPIAs produce highest income with lowest risk” (p. 23)

You’ll Be Older, Too

For married couples, the case for annuities is even more compelling.

Everyone has a statistical probability of living to a certain age. But when that same person marries, the chance that one of them will live beyond their individual life expectancy increases by a significant factor.

NOTE: This calculus also extends to same-sex married couples by the way though it is unknown to what extent outcomes might vary. Additional research is needed.

If continuation of cash flow to a surviving spouse is important to ANY married couple, placing value on these statistical probabilities should be a top priority.

Here’s a quick look at how this plays out for a sixty-four year old married (male, female) couple courtesy of our bean-counting friends at the SOA (individual chances in parentheses):

72% chance one of them will live to age 85 (Man: 41%, Woman: 52%)
45% chance one of them will live to age 90 (Man: 19%, Woman: 31%)

18% chance one of them will live to age 95 (Man: 6%, Woman: 18%)

If want to see what YOUR OWN chances of living to a certain age will be, Vanguard has a nifty interactive “Plan for a long retirement” tool you might like. It’s a fun (and possibly frightening) exercise.

So whether you’re trying to decide what to do with an anticipated personal injury settlement, a larger-than-usual attorney fee or the current 401(k) balance you’ve managed to accumulate during your working life, I hope this information on life expectancy has given you something to think about.

Guitar image courtesy of Iamnee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our “Best” Structured Settlement Endorsement Yet

Best-Structured-Settlement-Expert

With great pride we announce today our firm’s inclusion in Best’s Directory of Recommended Expert Service Providers in its Structured Settlement listing.

America’s premier independent insurance rating organization, A.M. Best Company, Inc. is  designated as a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO) by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Directory listing eligibility is based upon an applicant’s “reputation, character and industry experience” and requires endorsements from past clients and peers familiar with the candidate’s credentials.

We are honored to be acknowledged as one of the nation’s only Structured Settlement Experts recognized by A.M. Best and are humbled by the outpouring of support received from the many attorneys, claims professionals and insurance industry veterans who gave so willingly of their time to validate our candidacy when contacted by this respected organization.

We share this distinction with all of you who make our success possible by trusting us with all your structured settlement and specialty annuity planning needs.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the vetting process and thank you all for continuing to believe in us.  We appreciate the opportunity to be of service to YOU.

Best wishes for continued Struccess!

2013 So Far . . .

February 17, 2013 – Before the year gets away from us as years are wont to do, I thought we’d pause for a moment to reflect upon the number of people whose lives have been positively impacted in these first few weeks of 2013 as a result of our firm’s involvement in many changes in our offices like our new call centre furniture and new buildings.

Helped secure the futures of five minor children by aiding their parents and their attorneys with the placement of their structured settlement choices following resolution of their personal, physical injury claims on five separate settlements.Since January 1, 2013 we have:

  • Structured Settlement RecipientHelped a young man who was severely injured on the job with the settlement of his workers’ compensation settlement.  Because his ability to earn a living had been compromised, we helped him secure his financial future with100% income tax-free structured settlement cash flows he can never outlive.  In addition, we helped him find affordable health care since he was denied coverage and otherwise would have been uninsured.
  • Helped a baby boomer attorney tired of exposing his life savings to market risk secure his retirement funds by rolling them over to some non-structured settlement annuities which will provide guaranteed future income to meet his anticipated future needs without worry of market volatility.
  • Assisted two clients whose situations required the use of Special Needs Trusts in order to protect their public benefits.
  • Structured SaleProvided guidance to two clients in the process of of selling their appreciated assets who are seeking to defer capital gains taxes utilizing a Structured Sale.  Sales are pending and they are looking forward to achieving the tax deferral they desire.
  • Consulted with two individuals embroiled in employment disputes in helping them analyze the tax savings potentially realized by choosing a Non-Physical Injury Structured Settlement at settlement.
  • Attended six mediations or trials at the request of claims professionals or attorneys to aid in the negotiation and resolution process.
  • Met with a number of attorneys, financial planners, claims associates, life company partners and others to discuss matters of mutual interest.
  • Attended a Board of Directors meeting as an Officer of the National Structured Settlements Trade Association.

 

And this doesn’t even count responding to the countless calls and emails we receive on a daily basis from those seeking out our expertise on a variety of related issues.

Our firm is committed to helping clients achieve long-term financial security through the effective use of structured settlements and related products and services.

So whether you need assistance with structured settlement choices or are just looking for expert advice on how to arrange your financial affairs, call us.  Chances are good we can help you.  We look forward to being of service to YOU!

Is Oil Boom for California Nigh?

January 16, 2013 – Yesterday’s CNN/Money column “California Shale Boom Possible” was a timely article for us to remind our clients about a money-saving option available to those who lease their land for oil and gas exploration.

In August of 2011 we announced the availability of a new application of the structured settlement concept designed to help landowners defer taxes on the bonus payments they typically receive for leasing their land.

Gas Drilling RigIn addition to potential future royalties, landowners are commonly offered substantial up-front cash bonus payments as an inducement to leasing the land for prospecting.  Because this bonus payment is fully taxable, the Structured Oil & Gas Lease Bonus Option can help spread the tax burden out over a number of years saving the taxpayer money.

To learn more about this unique approach to saving money on oil & gas leases, visit our companion website at:

MyStructuredLeaseBonus.com

 

New Tax Deferral Strategy for Business Brokers and Realtors

The same tax deferral benefit enjoyed by contingency fee lawyers for years is now available for another group of professionals often looking for a sensible tax break:  Business Brokers and Real Estate Agents.

This is terrific news for any realtor or business broker who has always sought a way to safely and conveniently defer taxes on commissions they earn for implementing deals for their clients.  The benefits to this method of planning are many:

  • Deferring income taxes allows this group of professionals to balance out the highs and lows of a very cyclical business;
  • Sums deferred earn pre-tax interest offering the same advantage as 401(k) and similar plans;
  • Participants can arrange their income needs around marginal tax brackets to keep more of what they earn;
  • Brokers can potentially avoid or reduce their Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) bite;
  • Those with long-range financial goals can secure their futures by arranging supplemental, tax-advantaged cash flows in their retirement years guaranteed by a highly rated life insurance company.

Typically, when a realtor or business broker facilitates a sale, they are paid a commission based on a percentage of the sales price of the business or property.  Commission is paid in the year of the sale at closing and the agent or broker promptly (and presumably begrudgingly) estimates the amount of this sum they need to set aside for Uncle Sam.

But now, thanks to a major life insurance company, successful agents and brokers can now arrange to more effectively manage their commissions.

Allstate Life, rated A+ by A. M. Best, announced today that they are rolling out this attractive option as an enhancement to the Structured Sale offering made available through a limited distribution channel several years back.  Through an arrangement with Allstate International Assignments, Ltd. which currently handles their Structured Sales offering, those who qualify can take advantage of this unique opportunity.

When compared to earning commissions, paying taxes and investing the remainder, some professionals estimate they would need to earn a rate of return well in excess of the historical stock market average just to equal what the Structured Commission pays (depending on assumptions made about future tax brackets).  The difference here, of course, is the lack of stock market risk since guaranteed payouts are considered “risk-free” in financial planning parlance.

CAVEAT:  Key to implementation is the phrase “those who qualify.”  The Business Broker or Realtor must be considered a “Service Provider” pursuant to Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code.

But there’s more. 

Certain paperwork must be prepared by someone representing the life company (as of now, just Allstate) who has been authorized to implement these special-purpose transactions.  Because of the unique nature of this particular offering, the distribution channel has historically been limited to those familiar with the special paperwork and sequence of events which must be strictly adhered to in order for the matter to be properly consummated.  Do NOT assume your neighborhood insurance agent will be familiar with this.

So for now, since this particular missive has run longer than intended, suffice it to say “We Can Help!”  The Finn Financial Group is proud to be among a select group of firms in the United States chosen to help effectuate Structured Sales and the accompanying broker and agent commission deferral.  Call for an analysis or for additional information BEFORE the transaction is complete.  Because timing is everything, it’s critical the terms of the deferred commission be chosen before the sales agreement is finalize and the deal concluded.