Take our Quiz to see if an annuity right for you.
Life spans in the United States have been increasing for over a hundred years. It is now common for people who reach retirement age to live 20 years or more in retirement, most of those years in good health. It's good to live a long and full life, but you want to be sure that your income lasts as long as you do, and its purchasing power is as strong as you are. How can you manage the risk of "outliving your assets"?
Annuities are a contract between an insurance company and an individual. They are a unique financial product that, along with Social Security, employer pensions, 401(k) plans, IRA's and other assets, can enhance your retirement security. Annuities can be purchased with a lump sum or regular premium payments over time. Annuities typically offer tax-deferred growth of earnings and may include a death benefit that will pay your beneficiary a specified minimum amount, such as your total purchase payments. While tax is deferred on earnings growth, when withdrawals are taken from an annuity taxes are deferred on earnings growth. Gains are taxed at ordinary income rates, and not capital gains rates. You may pay substantial surrender charges to the insurance company if you withdraw your money early, as well as tax penalties.
Investors, especially those who are very risk averse, like annuities because they provide a steady stream of income and unlike stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other common investment options, annuities are guaranteed. Annuities can offer creditor protection, but you have to look closely at the laws of your own state to see whether they cover annuities and the extent to which annuity assets are sheltered from creditors. If you have determined that an annuity might fit within your financial strategies, you will then need to determine which one(s) might be most appropriate for your situation.
Immediate Annuities - start paying out right away, so they're are frequently used by people already in retirement. Payments are typically higher than other annuities because they include principal, as well as interest, and can offer favorable tax treatment.
Deferred Annuities - delays payments until a future date (greater than one year). These appeal to those seeking guaranteed income in the future or those who want to create a ladder of income over different periods later in life.
Indexed Annuities - is a cross between a fixed annuity and a variable annuity. The insurance company credits you with a return that is based on changes in an index, such as the S&P 500 Composite Stock Price Index. One significant advantage of indexed annuities is that the principle is never at risk. No matter how sharp the decline of the index, the risk is limited to the interest earned. This is a great scenario for an investor who wishes to participate in the equities market without taking on exceptional, and potentially devastating risk. Fixed Index Annuities offer a way for you to experience the benefits of a solid interest rate without major stock market risks. A fixed indexed annuity is not a stock market investment and does not directly participate in any stock or equity investment.
Variable Annuities - you can choose to invest your purchase payments from among a range of different investment options, typically mutual funds. The rate of return on your purchase payments, and the amount of the periodic payments you eventually receive, will vary depending on the performance of the investment options you have selected. Variable annuities are securities regulated by the SEC.
Consider these questions when talking with your financial advisor:
What kind of annuity is right for me?
Have I made maximum contributions to other retirement plans?
Am I using a highly rated insurance company to buy my annuity?
What is the cost? Are there any fees?
Will I need my money sooner than 59 ½ years old?
Who do I want to leave my assets to?
*Before deciding on an annuity, you should consider your income needs, risk tolerance and investment objectives.
**Annuity guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.
***Some fixed index annuities may have a lifetime income guarantee as part of the base policy; others may have riders available for additional premium that provide this benefit. Annuity riders may also be available for an additional annual premium that may provide additional benefits. See your annuity contract for terms, exclusions and limitations.