Protect your retirement from inflation

Why Do People Buy Annuities?

There are a number of reasons why people buy annuities. This insurance-based financial vehicle can provide many benefits that retirement investors might want.

Deferral of taxes is a big benefit, and so is the ability to put large sums of money into an annuity — more than is allowed annually in a 401(k) plan or an IRA — all at once or over a period of time. Annuities offer flexible payout options that can help retirees meet their cash-flow needs. They also offer a death benefit; generally if the contract owner or annuitant dies before the annuitization stage, the beneficiary will receive a death benefit at least equal to the net premiums paid. Annuities can help an estate avoid probate; beneficiaries receive the annuity proceeds without time delays and probate expenses. One of the most appealing benefits of an annuity is the option for a guaranteed lifetime income stream.

When you purchase an annuity contract, your annuity accumulates tax deferred until you start taking withdrawals in retirement. Distributions of earnings are taxed as ordinary income and may be subject to an additional 10% federal income tax penalty if taken prior to reaching age 59½.

Fixed annuities pay a fixed rate of return that can start right away (with an immediate fixed annuity) or can be postponed to a future date (with a deferred fixed annuity). Although the rate on a fixed annuity may be adjusted, it will never fall below a guaranteed minimum rate specified in the annuity contract. This guaranteed rate acts as a “floor” to protect owners from periods of low interest rates. Any guarantees are contingent on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Variable annuities offer fluctuating returns. The owner of a variable annuity allocates premiums among his or her choice of investment subaccounts, which can range from low risk to very high risk. The return on a variable annuity is based on the performance of the subaccounts that are selected. Any guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. The investment return and principal value of an investment option are not guaranteed. Variable annuity subaccounts fluctuate with changes in market conditions. When a variable annuity is surrendered, the principal may be worth more or less than the original amount invested.

Variable annuities are long-term investment vehicles designed for retirement purposes. They are sold only by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

Of course, there are contract limitations, fees, and charges associated with annuities, which can include mortality and expense risk charges, sales and surrender charges, administrative fees, and charges for optional benefits. Surrender charges may apply during the contract’s early years in the event that the contract owner surrenders the annuity. Variable annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency; nor are they guaranteed or endorsed by any bank or savings association.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor.

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