Wealth & Risk Management Blog

William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Posts Tagged ‘life insurance’

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

Posted by William Byrnes 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” 

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More than 40% of big firm partners retiring over coming decade – and many will outlive retirement savings!

Posted by William Byrnes on May 5, 2014


On April 28, 2014 The American Lawyer published its annual (2014) Big Law report in which it found that 16% of partners in the US’ largest 200 law firms by revenue are 60 years old or older with at least 8% least 65.  This generally means that these partners will be retiring over the next five years.  Moreover, right behind this retiring group are 28% more of the partners that have reached at least 50 years of age.

While these thousands of retiring partners have in general been earning between $1 million and $3 million annually, most also have lifestyles that correspond to spending this level of income.  These retiring partners are now asking “Will my retirement portfolio maintain my spouse and my lifestyles if we live another 30 years?”  “Will we have enough to truly enjoy our retirement, or will we have to cut back our lifestyle to make due?”  Will plans for luxurious global travel and spas be thrown out the window?  Wealth managers and financial planners have turned attention to these retirees.

“The 10,000 baby boomer that reach retirement age each day in America are waking up to the probability that they will outspend their retirement plan designed before the financial crisis, forcing a drastic reduction in quality of life style for the ‘golden years’” shared William Byrnes, author of National Underwriter’s Tax Facts.

“The largest concern for most middle class Americans is that social security since Ronald Reagan’s presidency did not increase enough to beat actual inflation.  The average social security monthly payment in 2014 is only $1,294 for a single retiree, and $2,111 for a married couple.  And it is possible that Congress will further reduce inflation adjustments for the future.”

“Moreover, baby boomers are outliving their retirement plans by at least ten years, and thus selling off their remaining assets and relying on children”, continued Professor Byrnes. “It’s no wonder that reverse mortgages have become so popular.”

“It’s not just the middle class retirees trying to survive on $2,500 a month over at least the next 20 years as lifestyle becomes more expensive, upper middle class Americans and even the wealthy also have lifestyle challenges.  A couple who for the past twenty years is used to spending $200,000 a year after tax needs to have significant assets.”

“Let’s run an example using a National Underwriter Advanced Markets retirement calculator.  A 50 year old partner at a law firm that requires retirement by age 67 currently earns after tax $300,000.  The partner will begin saving $60,000 a year toward retirement, and already has $400,000 saved and earned in tax deferred retirement accounts.  The partner expects earnings to increase 1.5% on average per year.  The partner expects to live until 90 years old, and will cut the annual lifestyle by 30% to $210,00 a year upon retirement.  The partner expects a healthy annual rate of return on the investments until reaching 90 of 5%, and average annual inflation of only 2%.”

“The question is: Will the partner’s retirement dollars last  until age 90? Unfortunately, the partner has only 13 years of retirement based on this scenario, and that only if including $42,937 of average annual social security.  At age 80, the $2,439,817 of retirement savings simply runs out. So given these variables, the partner must either save significantly more for retirement, have assets that can be sold down during retirement (such as the family home), or live on only $150,000 a year.  While $150,000 a year sounds like a lot to middle class retirees, for law firm partners living in New York, Miami, DC, LA, San Fran who are used to an upper class lifestyle, living on half the income with double the free time is a shock. And remember, this includes social security paying out over $40,000 of that $150,000 a year.”

“Stretching the retirement savings available for these additional ten years of life expectancy in the example above requires correctly calibrating a retirement plan over the next 20 years which includes managing the complex retirement savings and retirement plans tax rules.”

Robert Bloink added, “Baby boomers retirement taxation questions include: How are earnings on an IRA taxed? What is the penalty for making excessive contributions to an IRA? How are amounts distributed from a traditional and from a ROTH IRA taxed?  How is the required minimum distribution (RMD) calculated?”

“By example of managing the retirement taxation rules, if the baby boomer engages in a prohibited transaction with his IRA, his or her individual retirement account may cease to qualify for the tax benefits.  Thus, then baby boomer needs to understand what is a prohibited transaction?  When can the baby boomer tax pull retirement funds as a loan from a retirement account or policy without it being prohibited?”

“For complex modern families with multiple marriages and various children, a retirement and estate planner should analyze the non-probate assets”, interjected Dr. George Mentz. “Such assets may include the client’s 401k, 403b, 459, annuities, property and joint tenancy, among others.  Regarding insurance policy designations, the client may need to reexamine the beneficiaries, contingent and secondary, and percentages among them, based on current circumstances.”

“Because client’s are outliving their life expectancy and thus outliving their retirement planning, and medical expenses certainly factor into retirement planning, long term care for family members must also be addressed,” said William Byrnes.  “Moreover, recent press has focused client’s attention on tragic incident and end of life issues, such as a durable power of attorney for health care (DPA/HC), living will, or advance directives that explain the patient’s wishes in certain medical situations.  Finally in this regard, a client may require a Limited Powers of Attorney to address situations of incapacity, as well as orderly continuation of immediate family needs upon death.“

Robert Bloink included, “Other important issues to address with the client include pre-marital property contracts/pre-nuptials involving the second marriage(s), IRA beneficiary planning in blended families, spousal lifetime access trust (SLATs), and planning for unmarried domestic partners.”

tax-facts-online_medium

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.” said Rick Kravitz.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

 Authoritative 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.

2014 Tax Facts on Investments provides clear, concise answers to often complex tax questions concerning investments.  2014 expanded sections on Limitations on Loss Deductions, Charitable Gifts, Reverse Mortgages, and REITs.

 

 

If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctorate degree in the areas of financial services or taxation, please contact me https://profwilliambyrnes.com/online-tax-degree/

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12 more estate planning tax facts you need to know

Posted by William Byrnes on April 8, 2014


Estate planning is a complicated business. Before you sit down with clients, find out what Uncle Sam will demand if a life insurance policy or an annuity is part of their estate, or part of a recent inheritance.

1. When are death proceeds of life insurance includable in an insured’s gross estate?

They are includable in the following four situations: … Read all 12 Tax Fact estate planning tips at LifeHealthPro

LifeHealthPro.com is the vital online destination for life & health insurance advisors, designed to provide them with the essential elements they need to run their practice and increase their bottom line including breaking news, market trends, practice tips and more.

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Entering the Retirement Income Game? What About Universal Life?

Posted by William Byrnes 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.

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Using Deferred Annuities to Build Pension Plans for the Next Generation

Posted by William Byrnes on November 13, 2013


The most recent shift in the audience for deferred annuity products may come as a surprise to many advisors who are accustomed to selling these vehicles to older clients in pursuit of secure income late in life. Insurance carriers have taken steps to break free of this typical market, in many cases by changing product cost structures to appeal to an expanded (and much younger) client base.

As a result, advisors need to recognize that this new generation of deferred annuity products can be marketed even to clients who are in their 30s, 40s and 50s, erasing the common perception that most annuity purchasers are those stereo typically risk-adverse clients who have already retired. Younger generations have joined the market for secure income, which should have every advisor asking this question: How young is my next annuity prospect?

Read William Byrnes and Robert Bloink’s analysis of indexed variable annuities and how these product offerings may be attractive for certain of your clients at > http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2013/10/21/using-deferred-annuities-to-build-pension-plans-fo <

 

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Gifting Life Insurance Policies: Not a Simple Matter

Posted by William Byrnes 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!

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Whole life — A new asset class to allocate?

Posted by William Byrnes 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 

 

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Term Life: An better option for clients?

Posted by William Byrnes 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 <

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Incidents of Ownership and Burden on the Estate

Posted by William Byrnes on August 12, 2013


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers?   Discusses estate tax considerations in regards to life insurance policies.  Also, includes a detailed dialogue of the incidents of ownership concept. 

What do most wealth managers try to avoid when planning with life insurance and trusts?

That the Gross Estate for Estate Tax calculations would include the death benefit from the policy in the estate.[1]

What are some common ways to avoid this dilemma when using a trust and life insurance in regards to estate planning?[2]

The insured should never own the policy; “it should be owned from inception” by the trust or third party.

  • A trustee takes “all the actions to purchase the policy on the life of the insured”.
  • The trustee should be “authorized but not required to purchase insurance on the life of anyone whose life the trust’s beneficiaries have an insurable interest.”
  • The trust explicitly prohibits the insured from obtaining any interest whatsoever that the trust may purchase on the insured’s life.
  • The trust does not require, but rather permits the premium payments.
  • Trust is well funded, beyond that of one year of premium payments.
  • The trustee acts in the best interest of the beneficiaries.

A revisionary interest will give rise to incidence of ownership [3], which could include the insured’s right to; [4]

  • Cancel, assign or surrender the policy.
  • Obtain a loan on the cash value of the policy or pledge the policy as collateral for a loan.
  • Change the beneficiary, change contingent beneficiaries, change beneficiaries share of the proceeds.

When discussing incidents of ownership, naturally the 3 year rule should be further expounded.[5] “The 3-year ‘bring-back’ rule” is applicable, “with respect to dispositions of retained interests in property which otherwise would have been includable in the gross estate”.[6]  As discussed in AUS Main Libraries Section 8, C—Lifetime Gifts Of Insurance And Annuities-“Gifts Within Three Years Of Death, essentially, the rule as it applies to life insurance means that any policy transferred out of the estate of the insured within 3 years of his/her death, the policy proceeds are brought back into the gross estate for estate tax calculations.

It is generally accepted that “the trust should be established first, with a transfer of cash from the grantor to be used to pay the initial premium” or a few years of premiums.  “The trustee would then submit the formal application, with the trust as the original applicant and owner.”  Generally, the insured will “participate only to the extent of executing required health questionnaires and submitting to any required physical examination.”  Again the key is that the, “grantor/insured not have possessed at any time anything that might be deemed an incident of ownership with respect to the policy.” [7]

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The Value of Variable Life Insurance: Surrender Charges and Fair Market Value

Posted by William Byrnes on July 25, 2013


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently affirmed the Tax Court’s position on the use of surrender charges in the valuation equation when a nonqualified employee benefit plan that holds a life insurance policy distributes that policy to a taxpayer upon winding up of the plan.

When these life insurance policies are distributed to the taxpayer-employees under such a plan, the taxpayers are responsible for paying taxes on the value of the policies. According to the IRS, the policy value equals the cash value of the policy without regard to any surrender charges. So what do your clients have to include in income if the actual cash surrender value of their life insurance policy is negative?

The Facts

Read the full analysis at ThinkAdvisor – http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2013/05/28/the-value-of-variable-life-insurance-surrender-cha

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In Medicaid Planning, Don’t Surrender Life Insurance—Trade It for LTC Instead

Posted by William Byrnes on July 23, 2013


Your clients who are nearing retirement age might often wonder why they bother maintaining the life insurance policies they have funded for years. With children grown, the need to provide for beneficiaries in the event of an untimely death has already been eliminated. Further, these policies are considered assets that can have a significant impact when determining Medicaid eligibility.

Despite this, recent proposals in several states can give older clients a reason to maintain their policies and provide peace of mind in Medicaid planning. Under these proposals, ownership of a life insurance policy can actually help clients in long-term care planning as more state Medicaid offices embrace the use of life settlements in conjunction with Medicaid coverage.

The Proposals

read the full analysis at ThinkAdvisor – http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2013/06/03/in-medicaid-planning-dont-surrender-life-insurance

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

Posted by William Byrnes 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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Post-Retirement Health Care: A Quarter-Million-Dollar Dilemma

Posted by William Byrnes 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.

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my newest book: 2013 Tax Facts on Insurance & Employee Benefits

Posted by William Byrnes on November 21, 2012


http://www.nationalunderwriter.com/2013-tax-facts-on-insurance-employee-benefits-269.html

Organized in a convenient Q&A format to speed you to the information you need, 2013 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 2013:

  • Enhanced explanation of the Disclosure Regulations for Retirement Plan Service Providers
  • Expanded section on the taxation of annuities
  • More than 30 new Planning Points, written by practitioners for practitioners, in the following areas:
    • Life Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Federal Income Taxation
    • Estate Taxation

Plus, you’re kept up-to-date with online supplements for critical developments.

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What Next? ILITs & Estates under 5MM

Posted by William Byrnes on October 26, 2011


Life insurance is a common tool for ensuring estates have adequate liquidity to pay estate expenses and taxes. But recent changes to the estate tax have some people questioning whether the high premiums they’re paying are worth it when their estates are no longer likely to be hit by the estate tax.

With a $5 million exclusion amount and brand-new exclusion portability provisions, far fewer households have to deal with the federal estate tax. But is allowing unneeded life insurance to lapse the best solution?

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 insurance valuation in Advisor’s Journal, see Relative Policy Value of Life Insurance (CC 11-57).

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Are Unisex Mortality Tables Coming to America?

Posted by William Byrnes on October 6, 2011


“Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” goes the saying from the popular self-help book. But in a recent ruling, the European Court of Justice said that, although statistically verifiable, you’d better not acknowledge the 100 million mile (sorry, kilometer) gap between men and women when you’re pricing life insurance premiums.

The highest court in the EU ruled earlier this year that the long-standing practice of basing insurance premiums on gender is sex discrimination that is prohibited under EU law. Despite hundreds of years of data verifying the simple fact that women live longer than men, insurance carriers in the EU will soon be prohibited from considering gender when setting insurance premiums.

Under EU law, “[e]quality between women and men must be ensured in all areas, including employment, work and pay.” The European policy generally has been applied to remove gender discrimination in the workplace. But a 2004 European Directive “prohibits all discrimination based on sex in the access to and supply of goods and services.” And that directive has been specifically applied to access to life insurance.

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 Life Insurance Gender Gap in Advisor’s Journal, see Is the Life Insurance Gender Gap Really Closing? (CC 11-68).

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Court Holds that STOLI Law Isn’t Retroactive

Posted by William Byrnes on October 3, 2011


A stranger-owned life insurance promoter won a big victory when the California Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that California’s 2009 anti-STOLI law does not apply to policies issued before the statue was enacted.

The ruling was issued by the 4th Appellate District in an appeal on the case: The Lincoln Life and Annuity Company of New York vs. Jonathan S. Berck, as Trustee, etc, Case No. D056373 (17 May 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 STOLI cases in Advisor’s Journal, see STOLI Scheme Lands Insurance Agent in Jail (CC 11-92).

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Administration Defends Proposed Insurance Limitations

Posted by William Byrnes on September 6, 2011


The Obama Administration’s 2012 federal budget proposal has revived two budget proposals that will impact the life insurance business – one affecting Corporate-Owned Life Insurance (“COLI”) and the other affecting carriers’ Dividends-Received Deduction (“DRD”).

In response to concern that the proposals tamper threaten the tax preferred status of life insurance, the Treasury recently issued a letter clarifying that these proposals have relevance only to tax arbitrage issues, not the tax treatment of death benefits.

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 corporate life insurance in Advisor’s Journal, see Obama Budget Would Undercut Utility of Life Insurance in Small Business Planning (CC 11-41).

For in-depth analysis of taxation affecting corporations, see Advisor’s Main Library: A – The Corporate Income Tax.

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STOLI Scheme Lands Insurance Agent in Jail

Posted by William Byrnes on August 29, 2011


A California insurance agent will spend years behind bars for his part in a stranger originated life insurance (“STOLI”) scheme that swindled six victims out of almost $800,000. In addition to being sentenced to 3 years 8 months in jail, Victor L. Weber, 55, was also ordered to pay restitution to his victims.

In the typical STOLI arrangement, investors or promoters approach seniors to allow investors to purchase life insurance on the seniors’ lives. Insureds are typically enticed to sign on the dotted line by promises of “free life insurance,” cash payments, vacations or other perks. Insureds are usually unable to purchase needed life insurance because their life insurance capacity is occupied  by the investor owned policy.

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 stranger-originated life insurance in Advisor’s Journal, see New York Court of Appeals Upholds STOLI Arrangement (CC 10-106) & Recent STOLI Case Is a Big Win for Insurers (CC 10-59).

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New Cancellation of Debt Rules Leave Grantors on the Hook

Posted by William Byrnes on August 19, 2011


The collapse of the secondary market for life insurance during the recent financial crisis left a lot of trusts anxious to dispose of large face value life insurance policies. Trusts that handed back policies in satisfaction of premium finance loans were then struck, along with their grantors, with massive tax bills for what is known as cancellation of indebtedness or cancellation of debt (COD) income.

The IRS recently released proposed regulations that address the income tax treatment of cancellation of debt income of trusts. Although this highly technical area of the law may not be of interest to lay audiences, it is a vital aspect for advisors selling high-value life insurance policies.

 

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 an interesting case involving a premium financed policy in Advisor’s Journal, see Lawsuit Seeks to Hold Insurer Responsible for Suspicious Death (CC 10-101).

For in-depth analysis of life settlements (which can be structured as a premium finance transaction), see Advisor’s Main Library: B—The Life Settlement Industry.

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Turning Plan Sponsors’ Risk into Reward

Posted by William Byrnes on August 12, 2011


Barry Flagg continues his popular series, this month discussing the cash value of life insurance as a factor of suitability. The desirability of a permanent life insurance product is influenced by the degree of cash value liquidity throughout the life of the policy. All other factors being equal, the higher the liquid cash value after deduction of cost of insurance charges and policy expenses (including contingent surrender charges), the more suitable the policy.

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 income taxation of life insurance, see Advisor’s Main Library: D–Gain Or Loss On Surrender Or Sale

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Is the Life Insurance Gender Gap Really Closing?

Posted by William Byrnes on August 3, 2011


Historically, the amount of life insurance purchased by men dwarfed that of women. Although the gender gap is closing, there’s still a discrepancy between the amount of life insurance coverage owned by men and women. A recently released study by the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA) revealed that, although men and women own life insurance in nearly equal numbers, and women are working now more than ever, the amount of coverage owned by women is still fewer than men.

Historically, men have been the main source of household incomes; but recent research has revealed that about 30 percent of women earn more money than their husbands. Despite this change, LIMRA’s studies found that women’s life insurance ownership has not increased proportionately. 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 life insurance in qualified plans, see Advisor’s Main Library: A – Life Insurance in Qualified Plans & 412(i) Plans.

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New York Holds Carrier Can’t Deny Term Conversion for Settlement

Posted by William Byrnes on July 26, 2011


The New York Department of Insurance, Office of General Counsel, stated on February 25, 2011 that insurance carriers cannot refuse to convert a term policy to a permanent policy on the ground that the policy will be sold on the secondary market. The debated issue was whether the converted policy is a “new” policy that must satisfy the insurable interest requirement. Nevertheless, this ruling will not affect all term policies, since many term life insurance policies are not convertible. 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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NCOIL Announces New Annuity Suitability Penalties

Posted by William Byrnes on July 20, 2011


Producers and carriers may soon face more stringent compliance requirements, and increased liability for making unsuitable recommendations, when selling annuities. The regulatory change will happen at the state level as a result of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) executive committee voting unanimously on March 6 to adopt the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Suitability in Annuity Transactions Model Regulation.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of life insurance regulations in Advisor’s Journal, see NCOIL Adopts Model Act Requiring Insurers to Inform Consumers of Settlement Options (CC 10-104).

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Subsequent Divorce Decree’s Impact on Beneficiary Designation

Posted by William Byrnes on July 18, 2011


Which prevails when it is time to make a claim, a last in time divorce decree or a beneficiary designation made at the time of the application years ago?  A wife had her estranged husband, sign a separation and property-settlement agreement to release him from any claims to her estate or property.  When the wife passed away, her former husband sought the life insurance proceeds, as did her mother and son.  The answer is provided in a cautionary tale of beneficiary designations told in a recent 4th circuit case.

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 beneficiary designations in Advisor’s Journal, see The Effect of Divorce on Life Insurance Beneficiary Designations (CC 10-39) & Don’t Overlook Beneficiary Designations and Settlement Options (CC 09-28).

For in-depth analysis of beneficiaries and settlement options, see Advisor’s Main Library: D – Problems In Beneficiary Designations.

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Tax-Free Exchange Can Erase Policy’s Tax Benefits

Posted by William Byrnes on July 18, 2011


A recent IRS Revenue Ruling provides an important reminder for us of the rules for deducting interest that’s paid or accrued on a business life insurance policy loans. Knowing how and when policy loan interest is properly deductible can mean the difference between closing the sale in the first instance and an IRS audit down line if these rules are ignored.

In general, interest paid on a life insurance policy loan is not deductible for income tax purposes; but there are some exceptions for life insurance purchased for business purposes. The deductibility of policy loan interest has changed significantly over the past 20 years, so an intimate knowledge of the specifics is imperative when selling or transacting on a policy that’s issued to a business.  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 Advisor’s Journal coverage of the exception to the pro rata limitation on interest deduction, see Obama Budget Would Undercut Utility of Life Insurance in Small Business Planning (CC-11-41).

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

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Historical Performance of Underlying Cash Value of Life Insurance

Posted by William Byrnes on July 17, 2011


Last month, Advanced Market expert Barry Flagg talked about the relevance of policy cash values to the overall suitability of a permanent life insurance policy. This month, he expanded on the cash value topic by addressing how cash value is generally a product of the number of cash value investment options, the historical performance of such cash value investment options, and the cost-effectiveness of the various cash value allocation options.

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 valuation in Advisor’s Journal, see Life Insurance Valuation (CC 10-09).

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

Posted by William Byrnes 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 »

Pricing Stability of Life Insurance

Posted by William Byrnes 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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Life Partners Holdings Hit with Class-Action Lawsuit

Posted by William Byrnes 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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Tax Court Calculates FMV of Policies Distributed from Terminated 419 Plan

Posted by William Byrnes on March 31, 2011


The Tax Court recently calculated the fair market value (“FMV”) of life insurance policies distributed by a terminated 419 welfare benefit plan. The FMV of the policies—which must be included in the taxpayers’ income—was determined by the court based on: (1) surrender charges, (2) conditions imposed on the taxpayers by the insurance company, and (3) “paid-up insurance coverage remaining on the policies as of the date of distribution.”  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 policy valuation in Advisor’s Journal, see Tax Courts Holds Employee Taxable for Value of Life Insurance Owned by Welfare-Benefit Plan (CC 11-14).

For in-depth analysis of welfare benefits plans, see Advisor’s Main Library: B—Welfare Benefit Funds.

 

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Life Settlement Provider Accused of Falsifying Life Span Reports

Posted by William Byrnes 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 William Byrnes 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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Tax Courts Holds Employee Taxable for Value of Life Insurance Owned by Welfare-Benefit Plan

Posted by William Byrnes on February 18, 2011


A recent Tax Court case demonstrates the severe tax consequences for an employee when a welfare-benefit plan ceases to qualify under section 419A of the Tax Code.  Section 419A governs “qualified asset accounts,” which are employer provided welfare-benefits plans that set aside funds for (1) disability benefits, (2) medical benefits, (3) severance benefits, or (4) life insurance benefits. In general, contributions by an employer to a welfare-benefit plan are tax deductible by the employer if they are ordinary and necessary business expenses. In the case, part of the funds contributed to the plan were used to buy life insurance coverage for the principal and other employees, with the rest of the funds constituting excess contributions. 

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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Cost Competitiveness of Life Insurance

Posted by William Byrnes 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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Cancellation of a Policy Generates Taxable Income: The Sanders Case

Posted by William Byrnes 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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The Future of Estate Planning under the Obama Tax Cuts

Posted by William Byrnes on January 11, 2011


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Presents discussion on the effect of the Obama Tax Cuts on the Estate Planning industry in general.  Also presents analysis regarding the estate tax burden on taxpayers.

The quintessential planning tool that many wealth managers relied on could easily become a thing of the past.  In other words, the Obama Tax cuts are creating concern for some wealth managers who sold life insurance to cover the tax of an estate at the death of the decedent. Sections 301-304 of the new law reinstated the estate tax, but nevertheless, created large exclusions, essentially removing the need for many to cover the estate tax burden with the purchase of life insurance.

Specifically, the applicable estate tax exclusion amount is $5 million under the law (and is indexed for inflation) for decedents dying in calendar years starting in 2011.  Married individuals’ will see a total exclusion of $10 million.  Furthermore, the new law reinstates the maximum estate tax rate of 35 percent.  To read this article excerpted above, access www.AdvisorFYI.com

 

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New York Court of Appeals Issues Decision on STOLI Arrangement

Posted by William Byrnes 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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Life Insurance: Iron-Clad Asset Protection or Chink in the Armor?

Posted by William Byrnes 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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NCOIL Adopts Model Act Requiring Insurers to Inform Consumers of Settlement Options

Posted by William Byrnes 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 William Byrnes 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 William Byrnes 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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Employer Owned Life Insurance and Notice 2009-48

Posted by William Byrnes 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 William Byrnes 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 William Byrnes 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 William Byrnes 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 William Byrnes 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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Life Insurance and the Generation—Skipping Transfer Tax

Posted by William Byrnes on November 15, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers?  Provides details about one concept that wealth managers often overlook, the generation skipping transfer tax.  Also presents general concept themes and examples to show effective uses of life insurance and trust in consideration of the tax. 

In general, the generation-skipping transfer tax is levied on the value of life insurance that is transferred during the grantors lifetime or at death, to a skip person. [1]  The GST is levied in addition to estate and gift taxes. [2]

The generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax “scheduled to resume in 2011 at a rate of 55%, with a $1 million exemption. The rate was 45% in 2009, with a $3.5 million exemption.” [3]  For more information about the expiring tax cuts and new tax rates, see our blogticle: AdvisorFYI: Estate and Gift Taxes, Tax Cuts and More

“Certain direct gifts that qualify for the gift tax exclusion may also qualify for an annual exclusion that can be applied against the GST tax.” [4]  Many wealth managers encourage clients to take full advantage of the annual exclusion to avoid GST tax considerations at some later point.  However, “the expiration of the GST tax has complicated matters for wealthy individuals hoping to make 2010 gifts in trust that skip generations.” [5]  The use of trusts in consideration of the GST tax is discussed below.  For examples of insurance uses with trusts generally, see our previous blogticle: Trusts that Purchase Life Insurance; Known Formally as the “Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

Please link to AdvisorFYI for the entire blogticle.

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Use Charitable Giving to Enhance Family Business Succession Planning

Posted by William Byrnes on October 28, 2010


Life insurance is often the cornerstone of an estate plan when a family business is involved.  As a follow-up to the article on supporting a surviving second spouse without liquidating the family business, this article describes a technique that introduces a charitable giving component into family business succession planning.

Consider the following scenario:

Your client Jonathan has two primary legacy planning objectives. Foremost is his desire to ensure a smooth transfer of the family business to his daughter, Eva. Jonathan also wants to make a sizeable lifetime gift to his favorite charity and provide a retirement nest egg for his wife.

For prior Advisor’s Journal coverage of family business succession planning using life insurance, see Supporting a Surviving Second Spouse without Liquidating the Family Business (CC 10-53).

See the AUS Main Libraries, Section 9 C2—The Law Of Wills, for a discussion of a spouse’s right to elect against the will.

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

 

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Proposals for Simplification of Life Insurance Policy Donation

Posted by William Byrnes 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.

 

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