|Posted on September 5, 2010 at 8:16 PM|
What is an Annuity?
An annuity is long-term retirement product that can help protect you against the risk of outliving your assets. It is a contract between you and an insurance company: you receive future income in return for your contributions.Any earnings on contributions are tax-deferred until they are withdrawn, usually at retirement. You may receive income in a number of ways, including payments that will last for as long as you live. Annuities can be a valuable addition to your retirement plan.
Annuities may help you receive retirement income payments for as long as you liveProtect beneficiaries with a death benefitDiversify your investmentsProvide an opportunity for growth on a tax-deferred basisAvoid outliving your assetsFixed AnnuitiesSafety, Stability and GuaranteesChoose a fixed annuity for defined growth of principal and interest, free from taxes until your money is withdrawn. Fixed annuities generally guarantee a fixed amount of interest for several years; others guarantee rates from one to three years, and renew at the option of the insurance company.
Tax-Deferred Growth: Taxes are deferred on the interest you earn until it is withdrawn.Guaranteed Interest RateGuaranteed Principal: Assets are not subject to market fluctuations.
Your principal can never decline in value.Guaranteed Renewal RateBenefits to Heirs: Death benefits paid directly to a named beneficiary are not subject to probate.Fixed Indexed Annuities
Now you can have the best of both worlds:
guarantee of principal and the potential of market-linked growth with no risk of loss of principal due to market downturns. Enter the fixed index annuity concept, a concept designed to help you reach your retirement goals.
Safety and Guarantee of Principal
A fixed index annuity (also referred to as an equity indexed annuity) provides you with the best features of a traditional fixed annuity - a guarantee of principal. Unlike most securities or mutual funds where your account balance can fluctuate due to market performance, premium deposited into a fixed index annuity is guaranteed to never go down due to market downturns. A contract owner of a fixed index annuity participates in market-indexed interest without market-type loss.
The Power of Tax Deferral
All annuity values accumulate on a tax deferred basis until withdrawn. Therefore, your money can grow faster because you earn interest on dollars that would otherwise be paid as taxes. Your principal earns interest and the interest compounds allowing you to accumulate more money over a shorter period of time, thereby earning a greater return on your money.
Fixed index annuity contracts generally allow for some form of penalty-free withdrawals, up to 10% of the full accumulation value, once each contract year after the first contract anniversary.
Guaranteed Lifetime Income
Fixed index annuities can provide you with a guaranteed income stream with the purchase of a fixed index annuity. You have the ability to choose from several different annuity payment options. With nonqualified plans, a portion of each annuity payment represents a return of premium that is not taxed, which reduces the income tax on your annuity payments.
Potential of Stock Market-Linked Growth
While the index annuity concept offers many features of a traditional fixed annuity, it has a rather unique feature that allows a potential of stock market-linked interest credits without the potential of any market-type loss. In contrast to a securities-type product or mutual fund where the investor bears the market risk, the fixed index annuity concept insulates the contract owner from any risk of loss of principal due to market downturns.
What is Indexing?
Earnings on a fixed index annuity are based on stock market-like performance from certain indices. But what is indexing? Indexing is simply an investment strategy that follows the performance of select securities, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500® Index. The S&P 500® is a collection of 500 select industry leaders and thus a benchmark for U.S. Stock Market performance. A fixed index annuity is linked to the performance of this type of market index, without the risk of directly participating in stock or equity investments. With indexing, you can participate in a diversified passive investment strategy: a link to the market and its potential gains without subjecting yourself to the potential downfalls of the market.
Expectations for the Fixed Index Annuity
Fixed index annuities have the potential for market-linked interest without exposure to the market risk. Contract owners enjoy the guarantees and safety of principal even while being linked to market growth. However, they should not expect fixed index annuities to mirror the exact performance of any stock market indices.Since a fixed index annuity uses a passive investment strategy, it will not mirror the exact return of the stock market index. The fixed index annuity is a powerful financial tool designed to meet your long-term retirement needs.
Does it sound like a Fixed Indexed Annuity might be right for you?
Regular Income Now And For Life With an immediate annuity you can turn your assets into regular payments beginning now and lasting for the rest of your life or for a specified period of time. At retirement, you can use distributions from defined contribution plans, 401(k)s or IRAs to fund an immediate annuity and create a personal pension. By definition, immediate annuities are single-payment annuities. Any large sum of cash – from an inheritance, legal settlement, sale of a business or home – can be converted into an income stream for the duration you specify. Immediate Annuities are not intended to offer liquidity or growth potential.
Immediate Annuities feature:Regular Payments: Can be received on a monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual basis.Distribution Options: Depending on your particular needs, you can choose from distribution options: your lifetime, lifetime for you and your spouse, for a specified time (with your beneficiary receiving payments if you die during that period).Choice of Contract Types: Fixed immediate annuities guarantee level payments regardless of market performance.
Variable immediate annuities provide regular fluctuating payments reflecting the performance of the equities in which they are invested.
Tax Benefits: For immediate annuities funded with non-qualified assets, the payment of principal is tax-free; only interest is taxable.
Postponement of Taxes: For immediate annuities funded with qualified assets (i.e., from IRA’s or other tax-deferred accounts), earnings you have accrued are fully taxable. However, taxation is postponed by being spread out through the entire length of the annuity distribution
.No Withdrawals: Once purchased, immediate annuities have no cash value, so no payments other than the scheduled payments guaranteed under the contract are available.
Variable annuities provide the opportunity for market appreciation—through a variety of investment options—with tax-deferred accumulation and future income.
Variable annuities are designed for people willing to take more risk with their money in exchange for greater growth potential. While there is more risk associated with a variable annuity, many variable annuities offer guarantees of principal and downside protection at an additional cost (depending on contract rider availability). However, these guarantees do not apply to the investment performance or safety of amounts held in the variable investment options.
Variable annuities offer:
Tax-deferred Growth Potential: Taxes are deferred on earnings until money is withdrawn.
The Opportunity for Market Appreciation: A variety of investment options are available.
Access to Account Value: Most variable annuities allow withdrawal of a portion of your account value without penalty. Withdrawals may be subject to a contingent deferred sales charge within the first several years of any contribution, and if taken prior to age 59½, will be subject to a 10 percent IRS penalty.Benefits to Beneficiaries: Death benefits paid directly to a named beneficiary are not subject to probate.Benefits to Spouses: Spousal beneficiaries may continue the contract and its tax deferral, if this option is chosen.Variable annuity contracts have limitations, will fluctuate in value and are subject to market risk, including the possibility of loss of principal. Variable annuities generally impose withdrawal charges based on the withdrawal charge schedule. A combination of withdrawals and market declines could reduce a variable annuity’s account value to zero, in which case the contract would terminate.