With the stock market’s continued ups and downs, and interest rates still sitting at near historical lows, there are many clients who are likely left wondering how they may be able to supplement their retirement income sources.
The good news is that there may be a product that fills the niche between being too risky and “too fixed.” This middle ground is indexed universal life insurance.
In addition to offering death benefit protection, a potential advantage of owning indexed universal life (IUL) insurance is that the policy may be used for receiving a tax free retirement income. While the policy’s cash account is being built up, these plans can also provide several advantages over other types of permanent life insurance options.
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While IUL provides many of the same protections as do other permanent life insurance policies, these policies can also include more flexibility, as well as some additional advantages.
Some of the benefits that can found by choosing IUL include the following:
- Tax-free death benefit. Certainly, one of the biggest benefits of life insurance is that the death benefit proceeds are free from federal income taxation to survivors. This can allow beneficiaries to use the full face amount for paying off debts, replacing the decedent’s income, or any other need that they see fit. Also, because life insurance proceeds pass directly to a named beneficiary, these funds aren’t held up in costly, and time-consuming, probate proceedings.
- Tax-deferred growth of cash value. Permanent life insurance policies also allow the funds inside of the cash or investment component to grow on a tax-deferred basis. This means that funds have the opportunity to grow on an exponential basis, versus if the gain were taxed each year.
- Additional growth potential. With IUL, policy holders can obtain additional growth potential in their cash account. This is because the funds are benchmarked off of an underlying index (or in some cases, more than one index). In doing so, interest is credited to the account based upon the market performance, but without the downside risk of loss of principal.
- Protection of principal. Many IUL policies will protect policy holders’ principal from underlying market losses. Due to an annual “reset” feature, cash value gains can be “locked in” each policy year, and they can never be lost due to future market losses. This essentially means that policy owners can participate in market growth, but they cannot lose principal in the event of a market downturn — almost like the best of both worlds.
- No minimum age requirements to participate. Though most types of qualified retirement plans require that participants be a certain age to participate, there are typically no minimum age requirements for purchasing IUL. This can allow individuals to start saving early. There are also no minimum age requirements for cash value withdrawals, so these plans can also offer flexibility when it comes to taking funds out of the plan as well.
- No mandatory RMD (required minimum distribution) requirements. Likewise, there is no requirement to start withdrawing funds from an IUL policy once a policy owner reaches age 70 1/2 as there is with qualified retirement plans. This means that the funds that are inside of an IUL policy may remain in the account, continuing to accumulate on a tax-deferred basis
Considerations before diving in