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Layin’ It on the Line: Frequently asked questions about annuities

By Lyle Boss - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Oct 18, 2023

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Lyle Boss

Annuities offer a unique financial solution for those who seek stable, long-term income, especially during retirement. They serve as an excellent vehicle to diversify one’s investment portfolio and create a sense of financial security. Despite their numerous benefits, annuities are often misunderstood. Below is a compilation of frequently asked questions to shed light on this valuable financial instrument.

What is an annuity?

An annuity is a contract between an individual and an insurance company. In exchange for one lump-sum payment or several payments made over time, the insurer agrees to disburse periodic payments to the individual immediately or at a future date.

How do annuities differ from other investments?

Unlike high-risk investments like stocks or security based variable annuities, traditional annuities are known for their low risk and guaranteed returns. They may provide a reliable income stream and help ensure you do not outlive your savings.

What are the different types of annuities?

There are many types of annuities, but today, we are focusing on fixed, indexed and immediate annuities.

  • Fixed annuities: These offer a guaranteed rate of return over the contract term.
  • Fixed indexed annuities: The returns are linked to a market index but have a guaranteed minimum return.
  • Immediate annuities: These start payments almost immediately after a lump sum is paid.

Who should consider annuities?

Annuities are especially beneficial for individuals who are nearing retirement or those who seek stable, predictable income. They are also a good option for conservative investors who wish to avoid exposure to high-risk investment avenues.

How do payments work?

The frequency of annuity payments can vary. You can choose monthly, quarterly, annual or lump-sum payments. The terms of payment frequency are generally flexible and can be designed to satisfy your unique financial needs.

Are annuities tax-efficient?

Annuities come with tax-deferral benefits. The tax liability from an annuity is taxable only when you remove tax-deferred interest from your annuity and start receiving payments, allowing your investment to grow tax-free until then.

Can I withdraw my money early?

Annuities typically have a surrender period, during which early withdrawal could incur penalties. After the surrender period, you can often withdraw funds without penalties, though tax implications may apply.

How safe are annuities?

The financial strength of the issuing insurance company backs annuities. While they are not FDIC-insured, insurance companies are legally required to maintain reserves to meet future obligations, making them a safe and reliable option for investors seeking stability.

How can I buy an annuity?

You can purchase an annuity through licensed financial advisors and insurance agents specialized in financial planning and risk management.

Are annuities right for me?

An annuity might be an excellent choice if you are looking for a long-term, low-risk investment option to provide a stable income, especially in retirement.

Annuities offer unparalleled stability, tax benefits, and guaranteed returns. They may be a cornerstone in your financial planning, providing you peace of mind and financial freedom in your golden years. Always consult a trusted financial advisor or insurance agent to determine the annuity product that best meets your needs.

Lyle Boss, a native Utahn, is a member of Syndicated Columnists, a national organization committed to a fully transparent approach to money management. Boss Financial, 955 Chambers St., Suite 250, Ogden, UT 84403. Telephone: 801-475-9400.


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