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Archive for the ‘Insurance’ Category

Teaching an old dog a new trick: the modified endowment contract (MEC) and the modern portfolio

Posted by williambyrnes on June 6, 2014


The MEC 

A MEC is essentially a type of cash value life insurance policy that is subject to less favorable tax rules because it has been funded with premiums during the first seven years of the policy’s existence that exceed certain maximum amounts (depending on the policy’s benefit level and cost).  Despite this, the MEC’s worth today can remain substantial.

In some cases, dismissing the MEC too quickly can cause your clients to miss out on a valuable product.  For clients with sufficient means, the opportunity to rapidly fund a life insurance contract so as to become subject to the rules governing MECs may actually provide a powerful strategy in the well-rounded planner’s arsenal.

read this analysis in the article “The MEC and the Modern Portfolio

 

If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of financial planning, please contact me: profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour” 

Posted in Insurance, Retirement Planning, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

GLWBs and LIBRs: Which annuity rider?

Posted by williambyrnes on May 29, 2014


Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefit Riders (GLWBs) and Lifetime Income Benefit Riders (LIBRs) are two of the more easily confused rider options in a market where understanding the nuances can make or break a client’s financial plan. Even the most astute financial professional may have difficulty navigating the maze of features that can attach to an annuity.

Read the analysis of > GLWBs versus LIBRs < 

 

If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of financial services or international taxation, please contact me: profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour” 

For an indepth analysis of deductions for donations to U.S. charities, download my article at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2304044

 

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Client’s Seeking Market Value Adjusted Annuities

Posted by williambyrnes on March 16, 2014


As clients have begun to feel the shifting winds with respect to the general economy, the annuity market is now undergoing its own type of evolution. While products that tie fluctuations in an annuity’s cash surrender value to prevailing market interest rates may have seemed unacceptably risky to most clients just a few months ago, changes in today’s interest rate environment now have clients flocking to find these features.

Annuities with market value adjustment (MVA) features may be the next hot product for clients looking to beat the return on other conservative investment products, so make sure you are ready for this emerging product trend.

Read the full analysis of Professor William Byrnes and Robert Bloink at Think Advisor !

2013_tf_insurance_emp_benefits_combo_covers-m_2Authoritative and easy-to-use, 2014 Tax Facts on Insurance & Employee Benefits shows you how the tax law and regulations are relevant to your insurance, employee benefits, and financial planning practices.  Often complex tax law and regulations are explained in clear, understandable language.  Pertinent planning points are provided throughout.

Organized in a convenient Q&A format to speed you to the information you need, 2014 Tax Facts on Insurance & Employee Benefits delivers the latest guidance on:

  • Estate & Gift Tax Planning
  • Roth IRAs
  • HSAs
  • Capital Gains, Qualifying Dividends
  • Non-qualified Deferred Compensation Under IRC Section 409A
  • And much more!

Key updates for 2014:

  • Important federal income and estate tax developments impacting insurance and employee benefits including changes from the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
  • Concise updated explanation and highlights of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
  • Expanded coverage of Annuities
  • New section on Structured Settlements
  • New section on International Tax
  • More than thirty new Planning Points, written by practitioners for practitioners, in the following areas:
    • Life Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Estate and Gift Tax
    • Deferred Compensation
    • Individual Retirement Plans

Plus, you’re kept up-to-date with online supplements for critical developments.  Written and reviewed by practicing professionals who are subject matter experts in their respective topics, Tax Facts is the practical resource you can rely on.

Posted in Insurance, Pensions, Retirement Planning | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Client Opportunity – Secondary Market Annuities

Posted by williambyrnes on February 26, 2014


Staying ahead of client demands in the annuity product game is no simple feat for even the most informed of financial advisors, and the latest trend may prove even more crucial to successful advising—it involves not a new product or rider, but an entire market for annuities.

Newly developed uniform transfer standards and increased availability have caused so-called “secondary market annuities” to surge in popularity amongst clients in their quest to find financial products with above-average interest rates to supplement retirement income. What once was a niche market is gaining traction with the ordinary investor, and it is time for all advisors to get up to speed.

Read the full analysis of Professor William Byrnes and Robert Bloink at Think Advisor !

2013_tf_insurance_emp_benefits_combo_covers-m_2Authoritative and easy-to-use, 2014 Tax Facts on Insurance & Employee Benefits shows you how the tax law and regulations are relevant to your insurance, employee benefits, and financial planning practices.  Often complex tax law and regulations are explained in clear, understandable language.  Pertinent planning points are provided throughout.

Organized in a convenient Q&A format to speed you to the information you need, 2014 Tax Facts on Insurance & Employee Benefits delivers the latest guidance on:

  • Estate & Gift Tax Planning
  • Roth IRAs
  • HSAs
  • Capital Gains, Qualifying Dividends
  • Non-qualified Deferred Compensation Under IRC Section 409A
  • And much more!

Key updates for 2014:

  • Important federal income and estate tax developments impacting insurance and employee benefits including changes from the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
  • Concise updated explanation and highlights of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
  • Expanded coverage of Annuities
  • New section on Structured Settlements
  • New section on International Tax
  • More than thirty new Planning Points, written by practitioners for practitioners, in the following areas:
    • Life Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Estate and Gift Tax
    • Deferred Compensation
    • Individual Retirement Plans

Plus, you’re kept up-to-date with online supplements for critical developments.  Written and reviewed by practicing professionals who are subject matter experts in their respective topics, Tax Facts is the practical resource you can rely on.

Posted in Insurance, Retirement Planning | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

ESOPs: A Tax-Advantaged Business Succession Plan

Posted by williambyrnes on February 12, 2014


Employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) can serve a number of purposes for your small business clients, providing a powerful motivator for employees and simultaneously reducing corporate taxes. In today’s market, however, the most important function of an ESOP may actually solve one of your retiring small business client’s most pressing problems—how to exit the business upon retirement.

This business succession strategy can actually allow a small business client to gradually transition into retirement through a sale of the business to his employees while deferring recognition of any gain on the sale far into the future.

Read the full analysis of Professor William Byrnes and Robert Bloink at Think Advisor !

 

2013_tf_insurance_emp_benefits_combo_covers-m_2Authoritative and easy-to-use, 2014 Tax Facts on Insurance & Employee Benefits shows you how the tax law and regulations are relevant to your insurance, employee benefits, and financial planning practices.  Often complex tax law and regulations are explained in clear, understandable language.  Pertinent planning points are provided throughout.

Organized in a convenient Q&A format to speed you to the information you need, 2014 Tax Facts on Insurance & Employee Benefits delivers the latest guidance on:

 

  • Estate & Gift Tax Planning
  • Roth IRAs
  • HSAs
  • Capital Gains, Qualifying Dividends
  • Non-qualified Deferred Compensation Under IRC Section 409A
  • And much more!

Key updates for 2014:

  • Important federal income and estate tax developments impacting insurance and employee benefits including changes from the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
  • Concise updated explanation and highlights of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
  • Expanded coverage of Annuities
  • New section on Structured Settlements
  • New section on International Tax
  • More than thirty new Planning Points, written by practitioners for practitioners, in the following areas:
    • Life Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Estate and Gift Tax
    • Deferred Compensation
    • Individual Retirement Plans

Plus, you’re kept up-to-date with online supplements for critical developments.  Written and reviewed by practicing professionals who are subject matter experts in their respective topics, Tax Facts is the practical resource you can rely on.

Posted in Insurance, Pensions | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

The next hot annuity for clients is ?

Posted by williambyrnes on January 20, 2014


As clients have begun to feel the shifting winds with respect to the general economy, the annuity market is now undergoing its own type of evolution.

While products that tie fluctuations in an annuity’s cash surrender value to prevailing market interest rates may have seemed unacceptably risky to most clients just a few months ago, changes in today’s interest rate environment now have clients flocking to find these features.

Annuities with market value adjustment (MVA) features may be the next hot product for clients looking to beat the return on other conservative investment products, so read the full analysis of this emerging trend by Professor William Byrnes and Robert Bloink at Think Advisor !

ThinkAdvisor.com supports the professional growth and vitality of the Investment Advisory community, from RIAs and wealth managers of all kinds, to independent broker-dealer and wirehouse representatives. We provide unparalleled access to the knowledge, information and critical resources they need to succeed at every stage in their career, including professional development, education and certification, industry news and analysis, reference tools and services, and community networking opportunities.

Posted in Insurance, Pensions, Retirement Planning, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Entering the Retirement Income Game? What About Universal Life?

Posted by williambyrnes on January 15, 2014


A new product feature has emerged to help clients looking to supplement retirement income or protect against the risk of outliving their assets, and, in an unusual twist, this feature is not attached to an annuity.  Insurance carriers have thrown universal life insurance policies into the retirement income game by offering accelerated benefit riders that make it easier than ever for clients to access the value of their policies.

For clients looking to secure life insurance protection, longevity insurance, and a steady stream of retirement income, these new guaranteed income withdrawal riders could be the perfect solution!

Read the full analysis of Professor William Byrnes and Robert Bloink at Think Advisor !

Professor William Byrnes is a full time academic providing unbiased, informative critique to his readers.  Subscribers of Tax Facts and of National Underwriters receive weekly strategic industry intelligence such as retirement strategies and client case studies.  ThinkAdvisor.com, an industry news site, supports the professional growth and vitality of the Investment Advisory community, from RIAs and wealth managers of all kinds, to independent broker-dealer and wirehouse representatives. We provide unparalleled access to the knowledge, information and critical resources they need to succeed at every stage in their career, including professional development, education and certification, industry news and analysis, reference tools and services, and community networking opportunities.

Posted in Insurance, Retirement Planning, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gifting Life Insurance Policies: Not a Simple Matter

Posted by williambyrnes on October 17, 2013


Making a gift of a life insurance policy can prove to be anything but simple for clients who may not know what questions to ask in order to ascertain the potential tax consequences of the transaction. Transferring a policy that is subject to a policy loan can prove even more problematic, even if the transferee is a family member and the transfer is intended entirely as a gift.

Though the rule’s name might suggest otherwise, the transfer for value rule can create a serious tax trap for a client who transfers a life insurance policy, even if nothing tangible actually changes hands in the transaction.   Want to read more?  Open access content at Think Advisor!

Posted in Estate Tax, Insurance, Taxation, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Whole life — A new asset class to allocate?

Posted by williambyrnes on October 4, 2013


Clients who think they have seen all that whole life insurance has to offer need to take a closer look.  Insurance carriers have taken steps to bring whole life products back to relevance in today’s competitive environment.  In order to compete in a crowded marketplace for insurance products, carriers have developed options to allow clients to transform a traditional whole life policy into a flexible long-term investment product that can provide built-in protection against illness or disability.  Take a look at this entire article on Life Health Pro

If looking for planning tips and client acquisition strategies, feel free to explore National Underwriter Advanced Markets Journal and Main Library 

 

Posted in Insurance, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Overlooked Obamacare Silver Lining: Savings for Small Businesses

Posted by williambyrnes on October 2, 2013


Your small business clients know that the health insurance exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are coming—and soon—but they may not realize that they create significant benefits for employers in the form of dramatic cost savings above and beyond the current rules governing deductibility of premiums and eligibility for certain tax credits.

Beginning Nov. 1, small business clients will be eligible to sign up online for a specially created Small Business Health Options Program (the SHOP exchange), but clients are unlikely to have realized that the rules of the game have changed with the advent of SHOP.

Read William Byrnes and Robert Bloink’s analysis at Think Advisor

Posted in Compliance, Insurance | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Term Life: An better option for clients?

Posted by williambyrnes on September 12, 2013


Advisors who think they know all there is to know about term life insurance might be surprised to learn that these policies are finally being brought up to speed.

Increasing demand for already popular term life policies has insurance companies jumping to differentiate their products in a crowded market. The result is a new generation of term life products that can be customized to meet the needs of an extremely diverse section of the market.

Whether your clients are concerned about covering education costs or providing enhanced benefits in the case of specific accidents, modern term life insurance might be the solution.  … Read this full analysis by William Byrnes at  > LifeHealthPro <

Posted in Insurance, Retirement Planning | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to Build Your Own Solution to Long-Term Care Insurance Scarcity

Posted by williambyrnes on September 10, 2013


A basic problem for clients looking for long-term care insurance today is that they simply may not be able to find it. Major carriers have pulled out of the market in the last year, and the policies that remain can be prohibitively expensive and contain strict qualification requirements.

Fortunately, the product market is evolving so that a relatively new method of securing tax-preferred long-term care benefits has emerged. Hybrid annuity products that combine the estate and income planning features of an annuity with the protection of long-term care insurance are becoming increasingly popular among clients looking for replacement insurance.

Read William Byrnes’ analysis of building your own solution to long-term care insurance at > The Law Professor Column of Think Advisor <

 

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Can Clients 1035 an Inherited Annuity?

Posted by williambyrnes on September 6, 2013


2014_tf_on_investments-mAnnuity products are one area in which trends in contract features are constantly changing as insurance companies endeavor to more effectively meet the needs of annuity investors and with the attendant problem that beneficiaries of inherited annuities could end up with antiquated investment products.

This constant evolution of investment trends may have your clients wondering what type of value their annuities will offer beneficiaries after their death. The IRS has just blessed a solution to this planning dilemma by allowing a beneficiary to exchange inherited annuities for another annuity product that more accurately reflects the beneficiary’s investment goals.

Read the complete analysis by William Byrnes and Robert Bloink at > Think Advisor <

Posted in Insurance, Taxation, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

the Emergence of the Company Limited by Guarantee in Company Law

Posted by williambyrnes on August 29, 2013


The full article may be downloaded at > William Byrnes’ academic SSRN page <

The origin of the company limited by guarantee is nearly impossible to pinpoint.  While some experts believe that this type of business form sprang into being overnight, it is more likely that the company limited by guarantee slowly developed over centuries of time.  The origins of the company limited by guarantee have a fuzzy existence, which is likely attributable to the notion that this business form is comprised of bits and pieces of other business forms that existed in early English history.

The most plausible origin of the company limited by guarantee stems from fire insurance, which came into existence after the Great London Fire of 1666.  An excerpt from an eyewitness’s diary describes the tragic fire: “I saw a fire as one entire arch of fire above a mile long: it made me weep to see it.  The churches, houses are all on fire and flaming at once, and a horrid noise the flames made and the cracking of the houses.”[1]  For this type of tragedy to occur at a time when England businesses and communities were beginning to flourish was a great devastation of utmost significance.  The Great London Fire may have been the catalyst that drove individuals to find better ways of insuring themselves in the future, should another similar tragedy occur in the future.  Individuals had to protect their future economic interests, and the emergence of a company that allowed individuals the ability to conduct business as needed while still providing them with the limited liability necessary to protect against future damages may have been the foundation of the company limited by guarantee.

In order to understand the modern day characteristics of the company limited by guarantee, the characteristics of its members, the relations of its members to the company and the relations to each other, it is necessary to first understand the historical origin of the United Kingdom (“UK”) business organization of the company.  This article will begin by studying the history of the company limited by guarantee by analyzing the following types of businesses: (1) partnerships; (2) trusts; (3) charitable trusts; (4) assurance companies; (5) joint stock companies; and (6) investment companies.

The second part of this article focuses on explaining and examining the company limited by guarantee, including the evolution of the English Company from the Chancery partnership and trust, to the joint stock company’s statutory recognition and devolvement from the partnership.  This section will also analyze the evolution and statutory recognition of the company limited by guarantee, and generally distinguish its characteristics from the company limited by shares.

The third part of this article includes an in-depth statutory comparison of the modern day (1) company limited by shares; and (2) company limited by guarantee.

Although it is likely that the main foundation of the company limited by guarantee stems from fire insurance, the origin of other historic business types must first be discussed in order to envision the larger picture – including all of the major business forms that existed in early English history – in order to pinpoint the exact origins of the modern day company limited by guarantee.


[1] Samuel Pepys, Diary 390 (George Bell & Sons 1893).

The full article may be downloaded at > William Byrnes’ academic SSRN page <

Posted in Insurance, Tax Exempt Orgs, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Planning Concept: Traditional Private Annuity in Trust Variation

Posted by williambyrnes on August 14, 2013


Provides an overview of private annuities in relation to financial planning.  Examines a new concept wealth managers are employing for their clients with regards to private annuities and trusts. 

The traditional private annuity is a transaction used by some wealth managers for clients whose circumstances permit. Generally a private annuity transaction occurs where the grantor transfers assets to a third party who pays the grantor an annuity, usually for the life of the grantor.[1]

When a trust is involved with a traditional private annuity, the common transaction may look like this:  “The owner of highly appreciated commercial real estate transfers the property to an irrevocable trust in exchange for the trust’s promise to pay an annuity for life. The present value of the annuity equals the fair market value (‘FMV‘) of the property. The trust then sells the property to a third party for a sale price equal to its FMV.” [2]  For additional discussion on private annuity contracts see National Underwriter Advanced Markets’ Private Annuity [3]

The idea behind wealth managers suggesting similar transactions “is that the original transferor can spread his large capital gain over life expectancy by using the irrevocable trust as an intermediary rather than selling directly to the third party (who is presumably unwilling to do a private annuity).” [4]

There are considerations wealth managers must take into account when discussing private annuities with their clients. These may include valuation methods, arms-length transaction consideration, and incidents of ownership. For a detailed discussion of the tax implications of private annuities, please see Tax Facts Q 41. How are payments received under a private annuity Taxed? [5]

It is often the case that a trustee, although not necessarily, will use “the sale proceeds to insure its annuity obligation by purchasing a commercial immediate annuity.” [6]

Planning Concept:  Some wealth managers have recently begun to structure private annuities for their clients slightly differently than the traditional method discussed above.  Here the idea is a private annuity contract issued from the trust to the grantor who pays valuable consideration for the annuity which carries with it a condition precedent or “contingency”.  The condition on the annuity could be the death of the grantor’s spouse.  The trustee may “reinsure” the risk with the purchase of life insurance from payment of the annuity in the event the condition takes place.[7]  Similar considerations with regards to private annuities should also be considered with private annuities that carry a condition.

In the event the grantor’s spouse does not die in the near future, the premiums paid for the private annuity could generally be considered income to the trust, which may be owned by a second generation.  If the spouse does die in the near future, payment of the annuity would create general gain taxation with a tax-free redemption up to basis. [8]


[1] Manning on Estate Planning. PLIREF-ESTPLN s 5:9, 5-30.  “§ 5:9 The Private Annuity”.

[2] New York Estate Planning. 33 ESTPLN 13.  “Maximizing The Planning Opportunities Of Private Annuities”. 2006.

[3] AUS Main Libraries, Section 2. The Federal Estate Tax, D—Annuities In The Gross Estate.

[4] Id.

[5] Tax Facts Q 41. How are payments received under a private annuity taxed

[6] Id.

[7] 33 ESTPLN 13

[8] PLIREF-ESTPLN s 5:9, 5-30; 26 U.S.C.A. § 1001.

Posted in Insurance, Taxation, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The life insurance fiscal cliff: The end of a tax-preferred product class?

Posted by williambyrnes on December 7, 2012


Clients today assume that the tax-free status of life insurance is a given and may have even engaged in fiscal cliff planning that involves the purchase of life insurance to provide a source of tax-free investment income. Given today’s political climate, it is important for clients to realize that no tax preference is safe and that the tax benefits they have come to expect from life insurance are no exception.

read this article at Life Health Pro e-zine

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Posted in Estate Tax, Insurance, Retirement Planning, Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Post-Retirement Health Care: A Quarter-Million-Dollar Dilemma

Posted by williambyrnes on December 3, 2012


After expenses covered by Medicare are taken into account, many of your clients retiring this year are likely to incur about $240,000 per couple in out-of-pocket health care expenses during retirement. …  You may be able to alleviate the retiree health-expense problem by using guaranteed income annuities or life insurance alternative funding solutions.

Posted in Insurance, Pensions, Retirement Planning, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

When Clients Get Lump-Sum Pension Offers, What to Advise?

Posted by williambyrnes on November 30, 2012


An increasing number of your clients are facing the novel possibility of choosing a lump sum payout from their pensions instead of the traditional annuity option.  See the full article at -http://www.lifehealthpro.com/2012/08/16/when-clients-get-lump-sum-pension-offers-what-to-a

Posted in Insurance, Pensions, Taxation, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Life Settlements — Are They Back?

Posted by williambyrnes on November 28, 2012


One question financial advisors are asking themselves today is whether life settlements have returned to the fold as a viable tool in their clients’ planning strategies.  Read the entire article at http://www.lifehealthpro.com/2012/09/05/life-settlements-are-they-back

Posted in Insurance, Retirement Planning, Taxation, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Tax Court Confirms that Surrender Charges Reduce Value of Life Insurance Policy

Posted by williambyrnes on September 30, 2011


The Tax Court recently determined that the fair market value (FMV) of a life insurance policy distributed by a terminated 419 welfare benefit plan is reduced by surrender charges. [Lowe v. C.I.R., T.C. Memo. 2011-106 (2011)].

This ruling strengthens the Tax Court’s position on surrender charges that was enunciated in Schwab v. Commissioner [Michael P. Schwab et ux. v. C.I.R., 136 T.C. No. 6 (2011)]. The IRS continues to challenge taxpayers who apply surrender charges to reduce or eliminate their tax liability when a policy is distributed to them by a welfare benefit plan. However, this ruling adds another degree of certainty to the FMV calculation.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of Tax Court rulings in Advisor’s Journal, see Tax Court Revives Partnership Self-Employment Tax Debate (CC 11-56).

Posted in Insurance, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama Budget Would Undercut Utility of Life Insurance in Small Business Planning

Posted by williambyrnes on April 11, 2011


The Obama administration’s 2012 budget includes an attack on corporate owned life insurance that could further erode its tax advantages and put a ding in carriers’ balance sheets.  Washington’s repeated assaults on corporate-owned life insurance seem to be motivated by its view of corporate owned life insurance as simply a tax arbitrage opportunity for big corporations, ignoring its importance for smaller businesses that rely on a few key people to keep them afloat.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For in-depth analysis of corporate-owned life insurance, see Advisor’s Main Library: D—Deductibility Of Business Insurance PremiumsE—Premiums As Taxable Income To The InsuredF—Taxability Of Corporate Owned Life Insurance Proceeds At Death.

 

Posted in Insurance, Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Tax-Free Hedge Fund Investment: Private Placement Insurance

Posted by williambyrnes on April 9, 2011


Is hedge fund investment without capital gains or estate taxation possible for your high net worth clients?  Yes, through the medium of private placement life insurance (“PPLI”).   Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of topics relevant to estate planning for high net worth clients in Advisor’s Journal, see High Net Worth Clients: How to Find Them, How to Service Them (CC 10-07).

For in-depth analysis of state tax laws that are favorable for PPLI purposes, see Advisor’s Main Library: Estate Planning and the State Premium Tax.

 

Posted in Insurance, Retirement Planning, Taxation, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pricing Stability of Life Insurance

Posted by williambyrnes on April 4, 2011


Last month, we discussed the obvious relevance of pricing competitiveness to overall life insurance product suitability. This month, we discuss the stability of pricing representations which is also a factor of suitability.  After all, pricing that appears competitive at the time of sale/purchase but which cannot be maintained can be worse than a less-competitive product with more stable pricing representations.

For instance, while premiums are often considered the price/cost of a life insurance policy, the premium is not the price/cost of a life insurance policy (unless contractually guaranteed like in term life insurance or guaranteed universal life insurance) any more than the $2,000 contributed to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is the cost of the IRA. In both cases, the cost is the sum of what is deducted from the premium/contribution.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of suitability in Advisor’s Journal, see Life Insurance Product Suitability (CC 10-90)Financial Strength and Claims-Paying Ability (CC 10-115)Cost Competitiveness of Life Insurance (CC 11-11).

 

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New York Insurance and Banking: United at Last

Posted by williambyrnes on April 3, 2011


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? This topic discusses the new regulatory agency that will have an effect on most life insurance companies doing business in New York.  Because the new regulatory agency will oversee insurance and banking, it is likely that changes in the insurance compliance law are just around the corner.  After the financial crisis of 2008, it appears New York is taking action to prevent future disruptions in the market.  Wealth managers should be aware of the new agency as changes to insurance regulation and compliance are sure to result from the creation of this organization.

New York State is in the process of creating a new Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) which is designed to harnesses the regulatory powers and expertise of the Banking and Insurance Departments, as well as the Consumer Protection Board, by combining the functions of each, to make the State’s oversight of financial services responsive to the 21st century needs of the industry and its consumers.

This new State agency, created pursuant to legislation submitted as part of the 2011-2012 State Executive Budget, consolidates the functions, operations and staff of the Banking and Insurance Departments, along with related segments of the Consumer Protection Board, into a single State agency.

Consolidation of these agencies and activities within a single agency platform is intended to afford the State the ability to unify the State’s regulation of financial services and to more rapidly and capably respond to changing market practices and consumer preferences, thereby ensuring the industry’s continued integrity while shielding consumers from abuses.

In addition to enhancing and refining the State’s regulatory oversight of the industry, the consolidation will provide the State with the opportunity to reduce overall spending with the use of shared services.

The Superintendent of the Department of Financial Regulation will be appointed by the Governor, with the consent of the Senate. The Department’s main offices will be located in Albany and New York City.

The Department’s main responsibilities will be carried out through two major programs: regulation and consumer protection.  Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

 

Posted in Compliance, Insurance | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Life Partners Holdings Hit with Class-Action Lawsuit

Posted by williambyrnes on April 2, 2011


Life Partners Holdings, Inc. investors have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Waco Texas based life settlement provider, alleging that its directors and officers violated securities laws. The lawsuit comes a month after an announcement was made that the publically-traded company is the subject of an SEC investigation into the life expectancies the company uses to value the life insurance policies it sells to its customers.  Life Partners is accused of misleading its customers—investors in life insurance policy—about the life expectancies of insureds on the policies it sells, with insureds outliving the life settlement company’s life expectancy estimates 90% of the time.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of life settlements in Advisor’s Journal, see Life Settlement Provider Accused of Falsifying Life Span Reports (CC 11-23)Life Settlements Funds Performance Fees under Scrutiny (CC 10-116)Should the Basis of a Life Contract be Adjusted by Mortality Charges? Rev. Rul. 2009-13 Says Yes in Context of Life Settlements; Certain Amounts over Adjusted Basis Treated as Capital Gains (CC 09-19).

For in-depth analysis of life settlements, see Advisor’s Main Library: A—Life Settlements—Introduction.

 

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Life Settlement Provider Accused of Falsifying Life Span Reports

Posted by williambyrnes on March 10, 2011


One of the U.S.’s oldest life settlement companies, publically traded Life Partners Holdings, Inc., is being investigated by the SEC for falsifying life span reports used to sell the company’s life settlement products.  Falsified life spans can leave investors on the hook for additional premiums over the insureds’ remaining years when insureds outlive the firm’s life-span estimates.

The question for Life Partners Holdings shareholders and customers is whether the Life Partners investigation will go the way of Mutual Benefits Corp, a life settlement company that sold fractional interests in life insurance policies. Mutual Benefits was the subject of a similar SEC investigation concerning falsified life expectancies that ultimately led to the company’s collapse.  Could Life Partners be next?

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

 

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Court Nixes Carrier’s 300% Premium Increase

Posted by williambyrnes on March 7, 2011


Although supervising the cost of insurance embedded in life insurance premiums has historically been the domain of state insurance commissioners, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has intervened in one recent case, ruling on January 19 that Conseco Life Insurance Co. cannot increase the premiums it charges 50,000 of its existing policyholders.

The premium increase was part of a plan by Conseco to reduce its long-term losses. Rather than post reserves, Conseco looked for a way to reduce its future liabilities by $173 million. They targeted two blocks of universal life policies that had lower than expected lapse rates, using a pricing formula that would explode the cost of insurance charged in the policies’ 21st year after issuance. Customers who’d held the affected policies longest would have seen their premiums increase in 2010 or 2011.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of another carrier lawsuit in Advisor’s Journal, see Carriers Targeted by Suit Over Losses on Madoff Investments (CC 11-06).

For in-depth analysis of the income taxation of life insurance, see Advisor’s Main Library: A—Definition of “Life Insurance” For Income Tax Purposes.

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NCOIL Warns a Federal Insurance Charter Would Hurt the States

Posted by williambyrnes on February 28, 2011


Federal interference in the regulation of the insurance industry could be around the corner, but the states are not going to cede their authority without a fight.

State legislators fear that “important funds and jobs could be lost if Congress authorizes a federal insurance charter and creates a new bureaucracy to regulate insurance.” According to a letter sent by NCOIL (The National Conference of Insurance Legislators) to every member of the 112th Congress, a federal insurance charter could cost states as much as $16 billion in revenue annually—representing lost fees and taxes generated for the states by insurance business. ….

Although the FIO itself is not given regulatory authority by the Wall Street Reform Act, the studies mandated by the Act may signal that the Feds are interested in expanding their reach into the insurance industry. And, it would be naïve to think that the FIO studies will find that federal regulation of insurance companies is absolutely unnecessary—given the role of insurance companies like AIG in the financial crisis.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of the Federal Insurance Office in Advisor’s Journal, see The Federal Insurance Office (CC 10-55).

 

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Group-Term Life Policy Tax Consequences

Posted by williambyrnes on February 25, 2011


The Internal Revenue Code provides an exclusion from income for the first $50,000 of group-term life insurance coverage provided under a policy carried directly or indirectly by an employer. [1] Thus, there are no tax consequences to the individual if the total amount of such policies does not exceed $50,000.  However, the imputed cost of coverage in excess of $50,000 must be included in income to the individual, using the IRS Premium Table[2] and are subject to social security and Medicare taxes.

A taxable fringe benefit arises if coverage exceeds $50,000 and the policy is considered carried directly or indirectly by the employer. A policy is considered carried directly or indirectly by the employer if:

  1. The employer pays any cost of the life insurance, or
  2. The employer arranges for the premium payments and the premiums paid by at least one employee subsidize those paid by at least one other employee (known as the “straddle” rule).

A policy that is not considered carried directly or indirectly by the employer has no tax consequences to the employee.  Also, because the employees are paying the cost and the employer is not redistributing the cost of the premiums through an insurance system, the employer has no reporting requirements.

Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

 

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Cost Competitiveness of Life Insurance

Posted by williambyrnes on February 14, 2011


Cost competitiveness of life insurance policies is an obvious determinant of suitability.  Keeping costs low is critical because every dollar spent on expenses is one less dollar available to purchase more death benefit.  In fact, a recent study by Morningstar revealed that “Low fees are likely to be the best predictor of a mutual fund’s future success,” and the same certainly holds true for life insurance products. 

While different insurers refer to different policy expenses in different ways, all policy expenses in all life insurance policies fall into the following four categories: 1) cost of insurance charges (COIs), 2) fixed administration expenses (FAEs), 3) cash-value-based “wrap fees” (e.g., M&Es), and 4) premium loads.   Each type of policy expense and its role and relevance in pricing and suitability is discussed in the complete analysis at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of life insurance product suitability in Advisor’s Journal, see Life Insurance Product Suitability (CC 10-90) and Financial Strength and Claims-Paying Ability (CC 10-115).

We invite your questions and comments by posting them or by calling the Panel of Experts.

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New York Life Insurance Commission Disclosures

Posted by williambyrnes on January 20, 2011


Beginning last week life insurance brokers in the Big Apple started disclosing commissions to consumers.  New York is one of the first states that are mandating life insurance commission details to be disclosed to clients.

Under New York Insurance law, [1] an insurance producer selling or renewing an insurance contract must disclose the following information to the purchaser orally or in writing not later than application for the insurance contract or the renewal:

(1)     whether the insurance producer represents the purchaser or the insurer for purposes of the sale;

(2)     that the insurance producer will receive compensation from the selling insurer based on the  insurance contract the producer sells;

(3)     that the compensation insurers pay to insurance producers may vary depending on a number of factors, including the insurance contract and the insurer that the purchaser selects, the volume of business the producer provides to the insurer or the profitability of the insurance contracts  that the producer provides to the insurer; and

(4)     that the purchaser may obtain information about the compensation expected to be received by the producer for the sale and for any alternative quotes obtained by the producer by requesting such information from the producer.

To read this article excerpted above, please access http://www.advisorfyi.com/2010/12/new-york-life-insurance-commission-disclosures/

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Cancellation of a Policy Generates Taxable Income: The Sanders Case

Posted by williambyrnes on January 19, 2011


Life insurance policies are granted preferred tax treatment, with death benefits distributable tax-free to beneficiaries, but some distributions from a life insurance policy are subject to income tax. For instance, although inside buildup of policy value occurs tax-free, when that value is tapped through policy withdrawals, the policy owner may be taxed on the distribution. Current income taxation can also result when a policy is cancelled or otherwise terminated when a policy loan is outstanding, as illustrated by a recent Tax Court case.

For previous coverage of life insurance developments in Advisor’s Journal, see Life Insurance: Iron-Clad Asset Protection or Chink in the Armor? (CC 10-114) and IRS Blesses Life Insurance Policy Held by Profit-Sharing Plan (CC 10-96).  Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For in-depth analysis of policy loans and withdrawals, see Advisor’s Main Library: Section 19.1 G—Tax Treatment Of Policy Loan Interest and Section 19.1 C—Taxation of Amounts Payable During Life.

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New York Court of Appeals Issues Decision on STOLI Arrangement

Posted by williambyrnes on January 8, 2011


The Court of Appeals of New York—the state’s highest court— issued a decision as to whether New York’s insurable interest law was violated when an insured purchased a life insurance policy and immediately assigned the policy to a third party who did not have an insurable interest in the insured’s life.

The case involves an attorney who purchased $56.2 million in insurance coverage on his own life at the prompting of a STOLI promoter.  The policies were held by life insurance trusts that initially named the attorney’s adult children as beneficiaries of the trust, but the children immediately assigned their interests in the trusts to third party investors.  Investors paid all premiums.

When the attorney died, his wife refused to provide his death certificate to the investors.  She then sued the insurance companies and investors in federal district court, alleging that, because the policies were issued in violation of New York’s insurable interest law, policy proceeds should be paid to her instead of the investors.  Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

We invite your questions and comments by posting them or by calling the Panel of Experts.

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Insurance Agents Sued for Giving Bad Tax Advice

Posted by williambyrnes on January 7, 2011


Can life insurance agents and their carriers be held responsible for adverse tax consequences resulting from their advice to customers about transactions involving the policies agents recommend and sell?  A customer who relied on agents for tax advice concerning an annuity transaction believed the agents should be held to account for recommending a transaction that turned out to carry an unexpected tax bill.   She sued the Insurance Company in federal district court, claiming its agents committed fraud against her by failing to inform her of the tax consequences of an annuity rollover.

The plaintiff owned two annuities—valued at about $80,000 and $12,000—that she received in a divorce settlement.  She contacted the insurance company to find out her options for rolling the annuities over into one policy. Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

We invite your questions and comments by posting them or by calling the Panel of Experts.

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Life Insurance: Iron-Clad Asset Protection or Chink in the Armor?

Posted by williambyrnes on January 6, 2011


Life insurance is often touted as an iron-clad asset protection vehicle since many states exempt life insurance policies from attachment by an insured’s creditors.  Life insurance can even provide limited asset protection in bankruptcy.

But life insurance is not a foolproof method of protecting family assets from all creditors, as illustrated by a recent U.S. District Court case.  In that case, an insured sued his insurance company and the IRS after the insurance company paid over the cash value of a life insurance policy to the IRS to satisfy a tax levy.  The insured’s wife and daughter were the beneficiaries of the life insurance policy, which would have shielded the policy from creditors in many states, including his.   Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of asset protection in Advisor’s Journal, see Domestic Asset Protection Trusts: New Chart Ranks the States (CC 10-30).

For in-depth analysis of asset protection, see Advisor’s Main Library: G—Domestic Asset Protection Trusts.

We invite your questions and comments by posting them below or by calling the Panel of Experts.

 

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AdvisorFX Whitepaper covering the impact of financial reform in the insurance industry

Posted by williambyrnes on December 17, 2010


Much has been written about financial reform in the popular press. But where can insurance professionals find specific guidance on how the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” (“the D-F Bill”) affects them?

For the insurance industry, the focus of the 2,000-page D-F Bill is Title V, which creates a Federal Insurance Office (FIO) within the U.S. Treasury. Under Title V, the Secretary of the Treasury is given rulemaking authority to implement and delegate the new duties of the FIO. The D-F Bill also establishes that surplus and reinsurance insurers will be subject to the regulation of their “domicile” instead of having to comply with multiple state requirements.

The FREE white paper we have prepared covers all of this—and more—in clear and concise detail.  Please CLICK HERE to access and download your copy from AdvisorFX—absoluetely FREE

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Insurance Agents Sued for Giving Bad Tax Advice

Posted by williambyrnes on December 16, 2010


Can life insurance agents and their carriers be held responsible for adverse tax consequences resulting from their advice to customers about transactions involving the policies agents recommend and sell?  A customer who relied on agents for tax advice concerning an annuity transaction believed the agents should be held to account for recommending a transaction that turned out to carry an unexpected tax bill.   She sued the Insurance Company in federal district court, claiming its agents committed fraud against her by failing to inform her of the tax consequences of an annuity rollover.

The plaintiff owned two annuities—valued at about $80,000 and $12,000—that she received in a divorce settlement.  She contacted the insurance company to find out her options for rolling the annuities over into one policy. Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

We invite your questions and comments by posting them or by calling the Panel of Experts.

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NCOIL Adopts Model Act Requiring Insurers to Inform Consumers of Settlement Options

Posted by williambyrnes on December 15, 2010


In a contentious move, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) executive committee voted unanimously to adopt the Life Insurance Consumer Disclosure Model Act, (Model Act), which requires life insurance carriers to notify policy owners of settlement options when the policy owner is considering surrendering the policy or when the policy is set to lapse.

The life settlement industry is giddy over the Model Act—which should boost their business. But the insurance industry outlook on the Act is not so rosy—settlement essentially ensures that policies will not lapse before death benefits are paid and that many policy owners will choose settlement over carrier options like accelerated death benefits and policy surrender. Not all policy owners have a right to disclosure about settlements under the Model Act.  The disclosure requirement applies only where the insured is sixty years old or older or “is known by the insurer to be terminally ill or chronically ill” and … read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of life insurance settlement options in Advisor’s Journal, see Don’t Overlook Beneficiary Designations and Settlement Options (CC 09-28)

We invite your questions and comments by posting them or by calling the Panel of Experts.

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Insurers Accused of Wrongfully Refusing to Pay Death Benefits

Posted by williambyrnes on December 14, 2010


Insurance companies have been getting a lot of press the last few years. But this time, it’s not a story about a health insurance carrier denying a father-of-five cancer patient’s potentially life-saving treatment. It’s a Los Angeles Times story pillorying life insurance company American General and several other carriers for rescinding life insurance policies after the insured’s death.

According to the Los Angeles Times article, $372 million in life insurance benefits were denied beneficiaries in 2009, doubling over the past decade even as life insurance policy sales have decreased.

The article breaks down the denied death benefits by insurance company, finding that some carriers deny death benefits more than others. The prime target …… read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For in-depth analysis of a life insurance company’s right to rescind a policy after issuance, see Advisor’s Main Library: Section 20 C—Payment Of Proceeds.

We invite your questions and comments by posting them below or by calling the Panel of Experts.

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Lawsuit Seeks to Hold Insurer Responsible for Suspicious Death

Posted by williambyrnes on December 10, 2010


For as long as life insurance has existed, con artists and murderers have sought payouts from policies on the lives of their victims. Tomisue Hilbert, wife of insurance giant Conseco, Inc.’s founder Stephen Hilbert, suspects that her mother, Suzy Tomlinson, was a victim of one such schemer.

She looks to hold AIG responsible for her mother’s untimely death, believing that a high-value policy issued by American General (an AIG subsidiary) on her mother’s life was the impetus behind a scheme that ended with her mother’s death.  The life insurance policy at issue in the case is a $15 million policy on Tomlinson’s life naming Indiana businessman J.B. Carlson as its beneficiary. Policy premiums were paid with premium financing.

On September 29, 2008, Suzy Tomlinson drowned in her bathtub, fully clothed, after a night of drinking. Tomlinson’s death occurred right before a $1.27 million payment was due on the premium finance loan. Tomisue Hilbert’s lawsuit notes the fortuitous timing—for Carlson—of her mother’s death, Carlson’s debts of $5.9 million and the fact that Carlson may have been the last person to see her mother alive.

Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

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Group Captive Insurance Companies and Year End Tax Considerations

Posted by williambyrnes on November 30, 2010


Assorted international currency notes.

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As we have discussed in previous blogticles, captive insurance can be a viable method to more efficiently protect against certain risks under various circumstances.  For discussion on these topics please see our blogticles on AdvisorFYI from the week of August 30th, Monday through Wednesday, Alternative Risk Transfer BasicsRisk and Self-Insurance, andCaptive Insurance Company Introduction.

In addition, we have discussed in previous blogticles the ability to deduct prepaid expenses for certain items, both from an accrual basis and cash receipts and disbursements method taxpayer approach.  One such class of deductions that is generally allowable is, “insurance premiums against fire, storm, theft, accident, or other similar losses in the case of a business, and rental for the use of business property.”

See generally our blogticles from November entitled, Year End Tax Planning: Pre-Paid Insurance Expense For Accrual Accounting Taxpayers, and Year End Tax Planning: Pre-Paid Expenses For Cash Accounting Taxpayers.

Read this entire set of articles starting at AdvisorFYI.

Posted in Insurance, Taxation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Employer Owned Life Insurance and Notice 2009-48

Posted by williambyrnes on November 29, 2010


President James A. Garfield's $10,000 life ins...

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Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Provides an update for wealth managers into the status of employer owned life insurance.  Discusses two notable exceptions to the general rule including income from the death benefits of an insurance policy when paid to a trade or business.

In 2006, Congress added Section 101(j) to the Internal Revenue Code which addresses the taxation of employer owned life insurance (EOLI) under Section 863 of the Pension Protection Act.  The law departed from the traditional status of life insurance proceeds payable by death of the insured as excluded from gross income. [1]

Section 101(j) essentially taxes life insurance proceeds payable at death, in the amount over contributions or basis, when the policy is owned by a trade or business, where the employer is the beneficiary, and the employee is the insured. [2] There are a certain number of exceptions where the benefit payable to the beneficiary will remain excludable.  [3] In all of the exceptional situations notice and consent requirements must be met. [4] For a discussion on the notice requirements specifically, or Section 101(j) generally, please see AdvisorFX: Death Benefits Under Employer Owned Life Insurance Contracts[5]

Since the enactment of law, the Service has issued guidance in regards to what transactions may be allowed under section 101(j).  That guidance came in part, last year when the Service published Notice 2009-48.

How do some of the exceptions work in consideration of the guidance published in Notice 2009-48?  Read our entire analysis and citations at AdvisorFYI.

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Section 1035 Exchanges Are Useful in a Down Economy: A Review

Posted by williambyrnes on November 19, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Section 1035 exchanges are known for deferral of a taxable gain through a step-up in basis into a new contract.  The tax benefits granted by Congress are certainly advantageous, however, in an uncertain economy Section1035 exchanges also offer wealth managers the opportunity for new business.  Because of the potential little to no out-of-pocket expense associated with these transactions, many wealth mangers are currently implementing this advantageous exchange during sluggish times. 

It is often the case that policy owners’ expectations change during the life of a contract.  It makes sense to re-evaluate objectives to ensure they’re still aligned with client goals.  Section 1035 exchanges are one area where this practice is commonplace.

Generally, Congress allows owners of life insurance and annuity contracts to exchange that contract for another, similar or related insurance or annuity contract without recognizing any unrealized gain which may have accrued within the policy, so long as the insured stays the same.

Read the entire article at AdvisorFYI.

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Nonqualified Pension Plans and Life Insurance

Posted by williambyrnes on November 18, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Provides information on one additional planning tool that many wealth managers find useful for affluent clients who own a small business.  Gives an overview of the nonqualified plans as well as proving a common use of life insurance to fund plan obligations well into the future.    

Simply a nonqualified pension plan is a retirement plan that does not meet the requirements under the tax code and federal employment law to be considered qualified, and therefore the nonqualified plan is treated differently for tax purposes. [1]

What are some of the advantages of using a nonqualified plan over a qualified retirement plan? [2] 

  • Flexibility and selectivity—because the plan is not subject to requirements under the qualified plan rules, employers have much more control in terms of who may be included and the varying terms of each individual participant. 
  • Vesting and contingencies—nonqualified plans allow for the employer to exclude all amounts not met by vesting conditions or contingencies that the employee must achieve to obtain the benefit.  Say for example, that the retirement funds become available to the employee after 10 years of faithful service to the company.  If the employee does not work for 10 years, no benefits have thus accrued and the employee has no benefit under the plan. 
  • Cost savings through minimal reporting requirements—since nonqualified plans do not usually fall within major regulatory scope of qualified plans, the cost to administer these plans is generally less than some alternatives.

How are nonqualified plans treated for tax purposes?  Read the entire blogticle at AdvisorFYI.

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Life Insurance in Qualified Pension Plans

Posted by williambyrnes on November 17, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers?  Presents the general treatment of life insurance purchased through qualified pension plans.  Discusses a common scenario where life insurance premiums may be deductible by an employer aw well as the consequential income tax effect on plan participants. 

Suppose your client is the sole shareholder and president of a closely held corporation.  The business generates significant positive income and cash-flow on a steady basis. Assume the client himself may have an insurance need without the funds personally to cover the obligation.    Assuming further the business has a qualified pension (defined contribution or defined benefit) plan, one consideration may be to purchase life insurance through the qualified pension plan. [1]  Assume this option, up to an insurable interest limit, was also offered to all employees participating in the qualified plan. 

Since employer contributions to qualified plans are sometimes deductible, amount used to purchase life insurance may be also, subject to the incidental limitation. [2]  First though, “[t]o qualify for deduction as a contribution to a qualified plan, the employer’s contribution must first qualify as an ordinary and necessary business expense within the limits of reasonable compensation.” [3] As a general rule, so long as the amount of the insurance is no more than 25% of the total cost of the plan the amount may be deducted as an incidental benefit to the plan. 

Read the entire blogticle at AdvisorFYI.

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Key Employee Life Insurance and the Transfer for Value Rule

Posted by williambyrnes on November 16, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers?  Discusses a basic deferred compensation plan available to many small businesses seeking to retain key personnel.  Provides discussion on common transactions as well as expected tax consequences.

Key employee insurance generally means “a life insurance policy owned by and payable to a business that insures the lives…of employees whose deaths would cause a significant economic loss to the business, upon whose skills talents, experience or business or personal contacts the business is dependent, and who would be difficult to replace.” [1]

Generally, life insurance premiums payable by a business are not deductible. [2]  Which means the income received (whether in a single sum or otherwise) by the business, under the life insurance contract by reason of the death of the insured, is not included in gross income.  [3] 

If a key employee policy is transferred for valuable consideration, just as with other life insurance policies, the income tax benefit normally afforded to life contract proceeds payable at death may be extinguished. [4]

As was discussed a few weeks back in our blogticle: AdvisorFYI- Treatment Life Insurance Contracts—Part II: Secondary Market Participants, “[i[n the case of a transfer for valuable consideration…the amount excluded from gross income shall not exceed an amount equal to the sum of the actual value of the consideration paid and the premiums and other amounts subsequently paid by the transferee.” [5]   In other words, the transferee must include the death benefits as gross income over the amount of consideration and any additional premiums paid. 

Read the entire blogticle at AdvisorFYI.

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IRS Has Mercy on Noncompliant Split-Dollar Program

Posted by williambyrnes on November 8, 2010


The IRS’s latest split dollar rulings is a cautionary tale that, despite its happy ending, illustrates the danger lurking at every corner of the split-dollar life insurance regulations.  The ruling shows that, despite otherwise meticulous adherence to the tax code and regulations, a split-dollar arrangement can fail for lack of filing a simple annual statement with the IRS.  In PLR 201041006, the IRS considered a charity’s request to grant the charity an extension to make a required filing under the split-dollar regulations.

The taxpayer in the case is a charity (Charity) that ran a split-dollar life insurance program for its high-level employees.  Not having any expertise with SDPs, Charity hired a company to revise its SDP.  On the consultant’s recommendation, Charity entered into a new SDP. The new SDP was entered into after the Treasury issued final regulations under §§1.61-22 and 1.7872-15, which can carry adverse tax consequences for both parties to a split-dollar arrangement. 

Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of IRS split-dollar rulings in Advisor’s Journal, see Modification of Split-Dollar Arrangement Not a Material Change to Underlying Life Insurance Contract (CC 08-17) and Notice 2007-34 Explains Application of Section 409A to Split-dollar Life Insurance Arrangements (CC 07-18).

For in-depth analysis of split-dollar life insurance, see Advisor’s Main Library: Section 15.2  Split-Dollar.

Posted in Insurance, Taxation, Wealth Management | Leave a Comment »

Proposals for Simplification of Life Insurance Policy Donation

Posted by williambyrnes on October 25, 2010


Valuing a donated life insurance policy can be tricky when taking a charitable contribution deduction. Detailed IRS guidance on insurance policy valuation has been confined to other scenarios, such as where a policy is sold or included in an estate.  Also complicating policy donation is the requirement that a qualified appraisal of the donated policy be included with the taxpayer’s return.

For in-depth analysis of the topic of charitable giving, see Advisor’s Main Library Section 1 F—Estate Planning Through Charitable Contributions

Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

We invite your questions and comments by posting them at AdvisorFYI, or by calling the Panel of Experts.

 

Posted in Estate Tax, Insurance | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Life Settlements Market Ideal for Re-Expansion

Posted by williambyrnes on October 21, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers?  Discusses the general market conditions of life settlements.  Also provides reasons why some policy holders may consider selling their interests.   

As discussed earlier this week, a traditional life-settlement transaction consists of an third party purchasing an unknown individual’s life insurance policy for consideration.  The purchaser continues to pay the premiums until a death benefit is collected, the contract is sold to another individual or business, or is surrendered. 

The Wall Street Journal attributes the creation of the industry “back to the 1980s, when [terminally ill] patients sold their policies to raise cash for medical treatments.”   The Journal also notes, the “market boomed earlier this decade, as hedge funds eager for offbeat alternative investments piled in.”  

Since the decline in overall macroeconomic market conditions, “the total face value of policies purchased in the secondary market fell to $7 billion in 2009 from $13 billion in 2008”.  “Prices for policies, meanwhile, fell to an average of 13% of the death benefit in 2009 from 21% in 2006.”   Nevertheless, industry experts are expecting a rise again in total market figures by the end of 2010.  It is not surprising given the SEC’s new enforcement efforts discussed below. 

For the remainder of the article see AdvisorFYI.

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