This post will be short, due to my limited time due to an upcoming appointment with a local doctor, but I am an insurance agent/financial planner. I will be up front about that. I want to hit on some points that ActiveDutyMD mentioned. I also want to refer you to a book called "Tax-Free Retirement" by Patrick Kelly. You can order it on www.tax-freeretirement.com
. It will highlight a lot of these ideas.
It is quite true that many insurance agents are dishonest and will attempt to pull the snow over their clients' eyes. Not all policies are the best options for all people. That being said, there is a definite use for permanent life insurance. I will agree that whole life insurance is usually not the preferred method. I will also agree that variable universal life insurance policies are also not preferred. I sell a variety of term and permanent insurance, and my commission rate is the same on both types of policies. Granted, a permanent policy has a higher premium and therefore higher commissions. The type of permanent policy that I usually use, when suggesting permanent policies, is an indexed universal life policy. The amount of interest you earn on the policy is directly tied to the performance of the S&P 500. This means that if the stock market goes down, your gains are lower. Notice I said lower, not negative. There is a guaranteed minimum of 2% on this policy even if the stock market does what it did last year. This coming year, however, I expect I will see the cap on the policy, which is 12%. After 10 years, there is an additional 1.25% bonus interest credited. The historical average interest earned on this policy is 7.4 to 7.9%. It comes, however, with absolutely no risk to the principal. I will post a bit more later, but for now I have to go.
edit: I'm back so here's more...
#1) The return on cash value life insurance is not guaranteed. In my experience, returns tend to be MUCH lower than projected in the initial paperwork, typically around the minimum guaranteed amount. Are your figures using the minimum guaranteed or the projected returns? That's what I thought.
There are guaranteed returns on universal life insurance policies. The amount of the guaranteed return varies by policy and company. As stated above, the guaranteed minimum on the policy is 2%, but it is not realistic to assume that the stock market will only increase by 2% or less forever. A historical average increase in the S&P 500 index shows from 1950 to 2007 a 7.9% rate of return. Certain decades were better than others, with the 1990's showing over 15%. When I do projections on my policies I use 7.4%.
#2) Tax-free is a line you guys like to use. The only reason it is tax-free is because it is a loan, like a 401K loan. You have to pay the loan back with the proceeds of the insurance when you die. This leaves less money to your heirs. Taxable investments get a step up in basis when you die, and can be sold immediately TAX-FREE by your heirs.
Yes, it is a loan that is paid back upon death. But it is optimally a 0% loan. The policies I sell have for example a 6% interest rate but the amount of the loan is put into a separate pot of guaranteed 6% interest, making it a wash. The amount your policy ends up paying back is equal to what you used, with the initial death benefit never being touched. If you had a $1 million policy with $1 million in cash value and borrowed the $1 million in cash, your beneficiaries would still receive the initial $1 million benefit. Regardless of what step-up in basis a taxable investment gets, it cannot beat tax free. That taxable money is added to your beneficiaries income for the year and their entire earnings are then at a higher tax rate.
#3) Why would you need insurance after you are independently wealthy? That's like buying insurance on a $20 rice-cooker. It is always cheaper to self-insure if you can. On average, insurance is always a bad deal for the consumer and a good deal for the insurance company (and its commissioned representatives). It has to be this way. The company must be profitable or it won't stay in business.
Independent wealth does not alleviate the need for insurance. I will agree that at a certain level of wealth it may be unnecessary, but the reason you have become wealthy is through successful investment vessels. Someone with that degree of wealth probably wishes to make even more money, and thus utilizes these policies for their cash value. In fact, most big companies use life insurance as investments. They will take key person cash value policies out on their employees and over fund the policy in order to make money. It is not "always" cheaper to self insure. We are not promised tomorrow. If you died tomorrow, the amount of your self insurance would not be equal to the investment in a life insurance policy, permanent or term. The companies still remain profitable, yes. Absolutely. The insurance companies have huge pots of money that they can afford to invest in various places that the average consumer is unable to, like in long term bonds that most people do not have the time to wait for. The company makes money, the consumer is taken care of, and the agent makes money, usually about 50% of the first year's premium in commission. In the grand scheme of things, that is very little.
#4) Proceeds of your cash-value life insurance stay within the estate unless put into an irrevocable trust. If it is in an irrevocable trust, you cannot spend the proceeds while you live. Way to make things sound too good to be true by mixing this up.
The owner of a cash value policy can take a loan on their cash value at any time to be used for any reason. The only way there would ever be tax consequences on it would be if you surrendered the policy instead of letting it mature.
#5) 600,000/25=$24K/year. Invested at 10%/year= $2.4 Million. After 13 more years of not adding any money to the account and taking out $105K/year (just to match it up with your scenario) you are left with $5.7 Million for your heirs. Hmmm....that sounds a helluva lot more than $3.5 Million. How about that....wonder where that extra $2.2 million went? I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.
It is not fair to use 10% when he said he averaged 7.5%. That would alter your calculations by a bit, but I do not wish to attempt the math at the moment. Whether it makes up for $2.2 million or not, I do not know, but I'd hazard a guess that it comes close. There is the cost of the insurance that comes into things and usually a policy fee, so 100% of the money is not going into making money. Your financial professional can show you the actual cost breakdown of how much money is put where.
#6) Let's say that maybe, just maybe, you have a need for your money at some point before when you initially thought you would. That insurance policy isn't so liquid, is it. But you can sell your investments every day that the financial markets are open.
The insurance policy is pretty darn liquid. Whatever you have available in cash value can be accessed within days. Sure, that is not as liquid as running to the bank, but you should have money in a bank account that is accessible at a whim as well. And sure you can sell your investments any Monday through Friday, but what if that investment is not worth as much at that point? Your cash value in a life insurance policy will not have that problem. There is greater potential to make money in stock investments, but greater risk as well, and most people do not have the time or energy to play with it. Not to mention that hiring someone to do it for you is equivalent to a life insurance agent receiving commissions. All investments have commissions to pay out.
#7) And this one is for the crowd...have you ever had someone recommend cash-value life insurance (whole, variable, universal etc) to you that wasn't in the business of selling it? Why do you suppose that might be? Could it be that these are products meant to be sold, not bought?
The reason that it is unlikely to have been recommended this by someone outside the business is because someone outside the business is not licensed to make those kind of recommendations and probably does not know nearly as much about it as a licensed professional. You can do all the research you want, but until you get your license to recommend and solicit insurance products, your opinion is just that, an opinion. Some economists actually recommend that 10% of your investment portfolio be in cash value life insurance as seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sskwUTj4z8
Financial Planner in FL