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Topics: Life Insurance Advice

October 16, 2023

“I won’t be here to spend the life insurance benefit.”

Sure, one of the most popular reasons for buying life insurance is ensuring your family’s financial security after your homegoing. But the truth is, life insurance has many living benefits, too. Some term life insurance policies allow you to access a portion of your death benefit if you are ever diagnosed with a terminal, critical or chronic illness, which you can use however you wish.

Power of cash value

And permanent life insurance has the ability to accumulate cash value. You can use that money for whatever you like, such as for an emergency, a down payment on a house, or college—no questions asked! Or you can let the cash value continue to grow, which could supplement your retirement income.* The choice is yours.

Learn more about life insurance’s living benefits. Contact an Trilogy Advisor today.

Download this comprehensive blog as a concise one-page here: Life Insurance Myth

October 9, 2023

In the heart of a bustling town, Ernesto “Peanut” Folks stood as the owner of an auto body repair shop, where years of hard work and dedication had woven into the very fabric of his business. His vision for the future was crystal clear—passing the torch and the legacy of his shop to his son, Ernesto. This is the remarkable story of how life insurance, often overlooked, can emerge as a beacon of hope and resilience when we need it most.

Ernesto “Peanut” Folks was the proud owner of an auto body repair shop, and his plan was to one day pass along the business to his son, Ernesto. Life insurance was never on Peanut’s radar until an insurance professional spoke to him about how it could help him protect the business and its 10 employees.

Downturns in the business would sometimes make it hard for Peanut to make his premium payment. He considered dropping the policy but ultimately kept it in place.

When Peanut was diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer, his doctors gave him just six months to live. The treatments that followed kept him away from work, and medical bills mounted.

Given his terminal diagnosis, a provision in his life insurance policy called an accelerated death benefit allowed him to access a portion of the money from that policy while he was still alive. In the months before his death at age 49, Peanut was able to pay off his debts and turn the body shop over to Ernesto, fulfilling his dream.

Talk to an insurance professional about how life insurance can protect your business and your legacy.

Download this comprehensive blog as a concise one-page here: Life Insurance Keeps a Business in the Family

September 19, 2023

The pandemic’s economic disruption altered people’s views on a wide range of money topics—from the feeling of financial insecurity to the extra burden of debt, to how best to protect their loved ones, physically and financially. People’s interest in life insurance—knowing they have a need for it—was heightened during the pandemic and remains so, as people take a closer look at their financial security and well-being. The 2023 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA, shows this trend is prevalent among the younger generations, as well as with single mothers.

Single Moms Need the Industry’s Help

Fewer women own life insurance than men, 49% vs. 55% respectively. And that number is even starker for single moms: Just 2 of 5 single mothers (40%) own life insurance. That said, 6 in 10 single moms (59%) know they have a life insurance need gap—meaning they need coverage or more of it (vs. 41% of all adults) equaling about 5 million households. And 4 in 10 (38%) say they intend to buy coverage this year. With 7.9 million single-mom households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is a dire need for single moms to
purchase life insurance, or more of it.

The primary reason single moms own life insurance (63%) is the same as the general population: to cover burial costs. However, only 26% say they have it to replace lost income. And more than half (51%) say they are “extremely concerned” about leaving dependents in a difficult financial situation if they died prematurely, vs. 29% of the general population.

That’s not the only area of financial concern. In fact, single moms have increased levels of concern over a wide range of financial issues—often double-digits—over the general population.
• Having money for a comfortable retirement: 58% vs. 44%
• Saving for an emergency fund: 56% vs. 38%
• Paying monthly bills: 50% vs. 32%
• Ability to afford college: 40% vs. 22%

Owning life insurance makes people feel more financially secure: 69% of life insurance owners feel secure vs. 49% who don’t own. For single moms, this is 52% of owners feel secure vs. 30% who don’t own. The good news is that while only a third of single moms (35%) work with a financial advisor currently, more than half without one are looking for an advisor (52%) to help them navigate their finances.

Desire and Need Are on the Rise

Gen Z is growing up—they’re adults now who are in the weeds of financial responsibilities and stresses. Half of Gen Z is now 18-26 years old, which means 19 million young adults are ready for life insurance, most of whom are non-owners; and Millennials, at 27 to 42, are well into their careers and starting families. The study took a look at life insurance ownership among different age groups and found that half of all adults (52%) own life insurance, with 40% of Gen Z adults and 48% of Millennials currently owning it.

As Gen Z starts hitting life milestones such as finding a partner, buying a home and having children, half (49%) say
they either need to get life insurance or increase their coverage. And Millennials are not far behind, with 47% saying so. And they are ready to take action: 44% of Gen Z adults and 50% of Millennials say they intend to buy life insurance this year.

They also want to purchase it where they have become comfortable—online—and that goes for all generations. In 2011, 64% of people said they preferred to buy life insurance in person; by 2020, just 41% felt this way. In 2023, it dropped to 29%.

Education Is Key for Gen Z

There is work to do on educating people about ownership: 42% of all adults say they’re only somewhat or not at all knowledgeable about life insurance.
A quarter of Gen Z and Millennials say that not knowing how much or what kind of life insurance to buy stops them from getting coverage. And 37% of Gen Z and 27% of Millennials say
they “haven’t gotten around to it.”

Across generations, cost is cited as the top reason for not getting life insurance. But only a quarter (24%) of people correctly estimated the true cost of a policy for a healthy 30- year-old, which is around $200 a year.* More than half of Gen Z adults (55%) and 38% of Millennials thought it would be $1,000 or more.

With the current climate adding financial uncertainties to Gen Z and Millennials, including layoffs and inflation, it is imperative that the two age groups learn how to protect their loved ones financially. Education around finances in general, inclusive of life insurance, will be extremely beneficial, particularly for Millennials, who cite the highest overall level of financial concern (39%).

Download this comprehensive blog as a concise one-pager here:Millennials and Gen Z Lead Growing Need for Life Insurance in 2023

 

*Survey respondents were asked how much they thought a $250,000 20-year level term policy would cost per year for a healthy, nonsmoking 30-year-old, which is around $200.

Please source all statistics: 2023 Insurance Barometer Study, Life Happens and LIMRA© Life Happens 2023. All rights reserved.

September 12, 2023

No one really wants to think about life insurance. But if someone depends on you financially, it’s a topic you shouldn’t avoid. Are any of these reasons stopping you from getting the life insurance coverage you need? If so, read on!

1. My family can rely on loans or other family members.

We know we can rely on our families for support as we navigate life. However, if you were to die, your family’s world would shift on its axis—emotionally and financially. A time of grief is not the time to crowdsource funeral funds or make phone calls for money every month when bills come due. Life insurance means there can be an affordable solution in place so that doesn’t need to happen.

2. Money is tight. I just can’t afford life insurance.

Bills, rent or mortgage, car payments, childcare, food, gas … and the list grows as your family does. So what would happen to them financially if you died? If you’re gone, so is your income, but their bills and expenses will stay the same. If money is tight, you can’t afford not to have life insurance. It picks up the financial burden for your family when you are no longer there to do it.

3. Life insurance will be a free ride for my kids.

Your parents taught you hard work, and it’s what you’re teaching your children. But life insurance isn’t about leaving your kids a financial windfall. It’s about practicing—and teaching—the principles of personal financial responsibility. Preparing for the future with life insurance is a lesson in goal-setting, budgeting and discipline that ensures your loved ones will be OK financially, which is a valuable lesson to pass on.

Don’t let these myths stand in the way of getting life insurance—or more of it.

Download this comprehensive blog as a concise one-page here: 3 Myths About Life Insurance

September 5, 2023

Navigating the intricacies of life insurance can be a daunting task, but at Trilogy Financial, we believe that understanding the basics is crucial in making informed financial decisions. Life insurance, in essence, provides a straightforward solution to a complex question: How can your family be financially safeguarded if the unexpected were to happen to you? Whether it's covering immediate expenses, sustaining a business, or planning for future needs like education and retirement, life insurance offers a safety net. At Trilogy, we're committed to simplifying the complexities of life insurance, empowering you to make choices that secure your loved one's financial well-being.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is actually a simple answer to a difficult question: How will my loved ones manage financially if I were to die? If anyone depends on your income or the unpaid work you do, they would most likely struggle if you were to pass away. Life insurance pays cash—also known as a death benefit—to your loved ones when you die. It replaces your income and the many non-paid ways you support your household. Your family can use this cash to help pay for immediate and ongoing expenses like funeral costs, daily expenses, a mortgage or rent, and keep a business afloat. It can also be used for future expenses like college tuition, retirement and more.

How much does life insurance cost?

The good news is, life insurance may be less expensive than you think. The cost depends on four main factors: your age, your health, the type of policy and how much coverage you buy. In general, you’ll pay less the younger and healthier you are. To put the price in perspective, a healthy 30-year-old may be able to buy a $250,000 20-year level term policy for about $13 a month.1 That means if you purchase that policy and pay the $13 a month without fail, your loved ones would get $250,000 if you were to die at any point during those 20 years.

What are the different types of insurance?

Life insurance generally falls into two categories:

Term life insurance provides protection for a specific period of time (the “term” is often 10, 20 or 30 years). This makes sense when you need protection for a specific amount of time—for instance, until your kids graduate from college or your mortgage is paid off. Term life insurance typically offers the most amount of coverage for the lowest initial premium, and is a good choice for those on a tighter budget.

Permanent life insurance provides lifelong protection for as long as you pay the premiums. It also provides “living benefits” like the ability to accumulate cash value on a tax-deferred basis, which you can tap into to help buy a home, cover an emergency expense and more. Because of these additional benefits, initial premiums are higher than what you’d pay for a term life insurance policy with the same amount of coverage.

Sometimes getting a combination of term and permanent insurance is the best answer.

How much life insurance do I need?

The amount of life insurance to buy depends on who you want to protect financially and for how long. As a very general rule of thumb, experts recommend having life insurance that equals between 10 to 15 times your gross income. But you may need more or less than that. An easy way to get a working idea of how much you need is to use an online Life Insurance Needs Calculator.

 

Download this comprehensive blog as a concise one-page here: What You Need To Know About Life Insurance

Or click here to watch a short video.

March 28, 2023

Financial planning involves thoughtfully outlining objectives and setting goals in your Life Plan. With anything, the possibility of running into obstacles, options, and challenges throughout your financial journey is unavoidable. That’s why it is important to implement some sort of checks and balances to mitigate these challenges. Insurance is one of the best ways to account for unforeseen conditions and events in your financial plan. The thought of utilizing insurance can be daunting. It makes the possibility of losing your car or home due to an accident, flood, or fire a reality. That’s exactly why we create a financial plan – to be prepared for the unexpected. Our team is committed to coaching you through the process, so that you can make an informed and confident decision. There are various types of insurance services available that your Trilogy Financial advisor can help you navigate so you can handle the many uncertainties that life throws your way.

Read on to discover these insurance services.

Insurance Services Provided by Trilogy Financial

Every Trilogy Financial Advisor is committed to helping you build the legacy you have always desired to leave through the following services:

Term Insurance

A term insurance policy is the most common form of temporary life insurance. The term usually lasts for a specific “term” of years. Term insurance is also a form of insurance that is rented. Meaning, you pay a monthly premium for the insurance, but it expires after the allotted time frame. The duration can range from five to thirty years.

Term insurance protects liabilities that will cease to exist after a specific period, such as providing extra cashflow for raising children. It is a simple life insurance plan that protects against the possibility of an untimely death. A death benefit is granted if the insured passes away during the policy's stated tenure.

Because death is unpredictable, term insurance plans are essential. The family may experience a significant financial loss if the family's primary provider passes away. A term plan covers the loss. It benefits the family, allowing them to cover lifestyle costs and continue to address their financial objectives.

Permanent Insurance

Permanent insurance can be considered “owning” insurance coverage. Like term insurance, you pay a monthly premium; however, in permanent insurance, the range is continuous and does not end within a time frame.

For instance, even after your children have moved out and your liabilities have diminished, you may continue to carry some form of insurance to cover your loved ones and compensate for your end-of-life needs.

Permanent insurance premiums are more significant than term insurance premiums because, unlike term insurance, the insurance company may never have to pay out the policy. Permanent insurance can be used as an income and an insurance tool. Both a death benefit and a cash value factor are included. You can access the money as the value increases by taking out a loan or a withdrawal, and you can terminate the insurance by withdrawing the cash value.

Long-Term Care Planning

Long-term care planning, at its foundation, entails ensuring that you or a loved one's needs are adequately met when they can no longer care for themselves. Therefore, as you age, having a practical plan becomes more and more crucial. While many maintain their independence well into their senior years, it never hurts to plan.

Any long-term financial plan should consider long-term care costs, especially if you are in your 50s or older. You are unlikely to qualify for long-term care insurance if you already have a disabling condition. Most over 75 applicants will not be accepted by long-term care insurance providers. Most persons who purchase long-term care insurance do so between 50 and 60.

Risk Management

Risk management entails recognizing, assessing and managing risk. A well-executed risk management program is built on a foundation of standardized risk assessments to assist businesses in prioritizing their risk based on its potential impact. This procedure will inevitably reveal hazards affecting the company's fundamental competencies.

As financial Advisors, it is a part of our job to help you navigate your financial well-being, which includes helping you mitigating certain risks. Identifying your risk factors is your first defense, followed by avoiding or limiting risks to your income and survivors. Insurance is your quality line of defense.

Importance of Insurance in Financial Planning

Here are some factors that make insurance an essential aspect of your Life Plan:

  • Financial assurance: You feel safe knowing that the insurance policy will cover the damages in the event of an emergency.
  • Tax advantages: Insurance lowers your taxable income and provides financial benefits.1
  • Risk protection: Insurance prepares you to deal with any financial loss you might suffer in the event of an unplanned circumstance.
  • Meeting your prerequisites: Several insurance policies are available to cover the various risks you can encounter.
  • Peace of mind: Insurance plans assure you that your funds will not be compromised in the event of an emergency.

*This information is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax advice.  You should consult with your tax advisor for guidance on your specific situation.

Why Choose Trilogy Financial

Your financial plan should be strategically in line with your insurance. Our Trilogy Financial Advisors use a comprehensive strategy to offer insurance policies tailored to your specific needs and Life Plan. We understand the risks you face and how to help improve your financial life. Our Advisors will work with you to develop a deeper understanding of your alternatives, pinpoint practical needs and make plans for the care you and your family deserve.

To help you build the life you’ve dreamed, we collaborate with the most reliable insurance firms with a track record of being financial secure and capable of paying claims.

Get Started with a Financial Advisor Today

Everyone has a distinct level of risk, and before purchasing insurance, it is critical to identify risks and establish how to limit the likelihood of them occurring. We understand that everyone has a varying level of comfort and experience in navigating finances and Life Plans. That’s why our Advisors are committed to being both a partner and coach to support you as much or as little as you need, so you can make the best decisions for you and your family.

At Trilogy Financial, our Advisors will guide you through your daily financial decisions to keep you on track and set you up for your real-life goals. If you have any questions concerning insurance or any other element of your financial life, get in touch or visit our website today to book a meeting with an advisor

 

happily discussing insurance plan after meeting with financial advisor
 

 

July 23, 2019

Like many in my generation, I prefer to subconsciously minimize the odds that I’ll become ill and ignore the reality that I’ll eventually pass. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that illness and death are inevitable. Enter another subject we tend to ignore: Life Insurance. For many Americans – particularly young and/or single adults, life insurance is nothing more than a plot point in a Hollywood movie or true crime drama: the money collected by remaining relatives after someone has passed. However, life insurance, like health insurance, is just something you need to have. It can provide financial security for your loved ones, cover end of life expenses, and can even provide tax free income.

There are two different types of life insurance: temporary and permanent. The most common form of temporary insurance is Term insurance. Term typically lasts for a specified “term” of years, hence its name. Permanent – on the other hand – stays with you for your entire life, provided you continue to pay the premium, or have developed an account value large enough you no longer have to pay in. There are a wide variety of insurance policies available under the permanent life insurance umbrella, such as: whole life, universal life, variable universal life, and indexed universal life.

To put in another way, Term insurance can be thought of as renting insurance. You pay a monthly premium for the coverage but once the specified term of time is up that coverage goes away. The term can vary from 5 years up to 30 years. With some companies you can continue the policy, but you will have to pay premiums that are a multiple of what you had been paying during the “term” of the contract. It is used to provide protection for liabilities that will disappear after a certain time period ex: raising children, your mortgage, or income replacement. In your 20s-50s you have more people depending on you; therefore, if something were to happen to you (e.g. illness, death) you need an insurance policy that will take care of the people you support. If you pass away, you need enough coverage to pay off any existing debt, provide income replacement, and cover any other miscellaneous expenses associated with supporting your family. This coverage makes a difficult time a little bit easier by reducing the financial burden and allowing loved ones time to grieve without worrying about impending bills. Term insurance is perfect for this type of coverage as it has the lowest premiums and can be structured to disappear once certain liabilities disappear (e.g. mortgage is paid off, kids are out of the house, and your income is no longer critical to the security of your family).

Permanent Insurance, on the other hand, can be framed as owning the insurance coverage. As with term insurance, you pay a monthly premium; however, the coverage stays with you for the rest of your life, not just a specified term of time. Once your family is out of the house and your liabilities are decreased you still want to maintain some level of insurance coverage to cover end of life expenses and provide for loved ones. Permanent insurance is a great choice to cover these remaining liabilities. The premiums for permanent insurance are higher than those for term insurance because, unlike term – where the insurance company may not ever have to pay out the policy- permanent insurance means a guaranteed payout – assuming you’ve paid the premium. At some point the insurance company will have to pay. Additionally, part of these monthly premiums are placed into a cash value account which, depending on the type of policy, earns a fixed or variable rate of return and can provide tax free income. This income can be used to fund an early retirement as it can be accessed prior to age 59 ½ – the age required to legally withdraw from retirement plans without incurring penalties.

But what if you want to access the death benefit in an insurance policy without having to die – sound too good to be true? In fact, some insurance policies allow you to access death benefits before actual death! These policies feature Accelerated Benefit Riders (ABRs) which allow you to accelerate (or, in other words, use) the death benefit while still alive to cover certain terminal, chronic, or critical illnesses. Unlike health insurance, which only reimburses medical expenses, ABRs provide tax free money for you to use as you wish, assuming you have an ABR event. You can use this money for experimental treatments that health insurance will not cover or use it to travel the world. There are no restrictions on how the money is spent.

Now you know about life insurance and the many different options and benefits available to you – consider working with a financial planner to discuss the right life insurance policy for your needs.

If you have questions about insurance or any other aspect of your financial life please do not hesitate to reach out to me at zach.swaffer@trilogyfs.com

This article contains only general descriptions and is not a solicitation to sell any insurance product or security, nor is it intended as any financial or tax advice. For information about specific insurance needs or situations, contact your insurance agent. This article is intended to assist in educating you about insurance generally and not to provide personal service. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

January 8, 2019

Insurance is a necessary component to creating a financial plan that works well for you, your family, and your long-term goals. It can take just one illness, one job loss, or one car accident to turn your world upside down and crumble your financial plan.

If you have the proper insurance in place from the start, however, you can weather these life-changing moments and keep your goals and dreams on the right trajectory.

  1. Auto Insurance – Auto insurance is a must and not just because the law requires that you carry it. Auto insurance can protect your assets in the case of an accident and make sure that not only can you shoulder liability in an accident but you can also get back on the road with a car that will carry you safely to and from work. Full coverage is especially important if you owe money on your vehicle. No one wants to keep making car payments on a vehicle that was totaled in an accident.
  2. Homeowners or Renters Insurance – You have worked hard to provide for your family and homeowners and renters insurance can protect you and get you back to where you were in the case of a natural disaster or a home break-in. Depending on where you live, you have seen the damage that can be done by tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, and more. Be sure to check that your policy covers the weather most likely to wreak havoc in your neck of the woods.
  3. Life Insurance – Life insurance is absolutely necessary for any individual who supports another individual. So, if you are married or you have dependents, then you definitely want to make sure that their needs are covered if you meet an untimely death. Think about what life would be like for your dependents without your income and choose the amount of life insurance that you need accordingly.
  4. Health Insurance – Health insurance is such a smart choice. Medical costs have skyrocketed and long-term illness or serious injury can drain your savings fast. Having health insurance goes a long way in keeping your household doing well financially in the midst of a health crisis. If you do not receive health insurance through your employer, take the time to talk to your insurance agent about it.
  5. Disability Insurance – If you work you may already be getting this type of insurance through your employer. Look at the specific plan and if you are not getting enough coverage through your workplace then you may want to consider getting some through your agent or broker.

Disability insurance is important because it keeps your household operating during a long absence from work due to illness or injury.

Now is the time to make sure all of your “insurance ducks” are in a row. Catastrophe may never hit, but if it does, you want to make sure that you and your family are covered.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

November 2, 2018

In 2015, Americans spent $225 billion on long-term care. That’s 7 ½ times what was spent 15 years prior, in 2000. With the great advances we have made in medicine and medical technology, people are living longer. The downside to that is that it means people are more likely to need care and need it longer. In fact, over half of people turning 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives.(1)

Types Of Long-Term Care

When you think of long-term care, skilled nursing facilities are probably what comes to mind. However, that is actually the last step in the long-term care journey. Most long-term care is not medical; it is simply assistance with basic activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, eating, and going to the bathroom.

Even without serious medical problems, most people become less and less capable of taking care of themselves as they age. Traditionally, people would turn to family for help with such things. However, in our modern era where families live far apart and adult children are already overburdened with careers and children, more and more people have to pay for long-term care services.

The most basic, and least expensive, form of care is homemaker services. Homemaker services do not involve anything medical, but rather things like meal preparation, cleaning, and running errands. The next step up, which does have a medical component, would be a home health aide.

Once basic in-home assistance is not enough, specialized facilities are needed. Care outside of the home can be in the form of adult day healthcare, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.

Costs Of Long-Term Care(2)

Costs vary depending on the type of care needed and the part of the country in which you live. On an annual basis, the national average goes from just under $48,000 for homemaker services to over $97,000 for a private room in a nursing home, and that number is growing about 3-4% a year.

Things change drastically when you look at specific locations. In San Francisco, homemaker services are more than 150% the national average and growing twice as fast. A private room in a nursing home averages $171,185 a year. Even downgrading to a semi-private room still costs over $141,000 a year. Twenty years from now, that same semi-private room is expected to cost over a quarter of a million dollars.

As you can see, long-term care can be very expensive, especially with the rise of dementia, where people can live a long time while needing care. In 2018, the estimated lifetime cost of care for someone with dementia is $341,840,(3) and it’s probably much higher in a state like California.

Ways Of Paying For Long-Term Care

Because of the high cost, it is important to plan ahead for long-term care. There are a number of ways to pay for care, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Medicaid

The vast majority of Americans turn to Medicaid for their long-term care expenses. However, it’s not because it’s a great option. Rather, it’s their only option. In order to qualify for Medicaid, you have to have a low income and low assets, so it’s not really something people plan for intentionally.

Self-Insure

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the people that can qualify for Medicaid are those who have amassed enough wealth to self-insure. If you have $50 million in assets, you can afford to pay $170,000 a year for a nursing home and it won’t have a significant impact on your finances.

The danger is that sometimes people take too great a risk thinking they can self-insure. Often, care is needed later in retirement when savings have already been spent down significantly. Having $500,000 in the bank may seem like a lot of money, but long-term care expenses can eat through it very quickly. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a couple to spend all of their savings on the husband’s care only to leave the wife destitute at his passing.

Life Insurance With A Long-Term Care Rider

One option for those that find themselves in between broke and very wealthy is adding a long-term care rider to their life insurance. If you have, or are planning on purchasing, permanent life insurance, your policy may allow you to add a rider that would help pay for your long-term care costs. Using the long-term care option will often lower your death benefit, but many people appreciate knowing they will receive a benefit even if they never need long-term care.

Premium Paying Long-Term Care Insurance

Another option is buying pure long-term care insurance. Like with most kinds of insurance, you pay a regular premium in exchange for receiving a benefit when you need long-term care. One downside to this for many people is that you will only receive a benefit if you end up needing long-term care. As with car insurance where you have to get into an accident in order to get money out of it, if you never need care, you never see your money again.

Asset-Based Long-Term Care Insurance

The final option has been the fastest growing long-term care option over the last decade.(4) It is a combination of long-term care insurance and single premium life insurance, commonly called asset-based insurance.

The way it works is that you pay a large amount up front and then low annual premiums. You have several times your initial deposit available tax-free for long-term care needs. If you never use it or cancel your plan, you usually get your deposit back plus interest. Some plans even include tax-free death benefits.

Choosing A Long-Term Care Option

Looking at the statistics, you can tell that planning for long-term care is an important thing to do. Failing to do so can be a costly mistake. Because the multitude of options available can be complex and confusing, it’s important to work with an experienced financial professional.

An experienced advisor can explain all of your options to you, help you consider the pros and cons of each, and decide which is the best solution for your particular situation. If you want that kind of help choosing a long-term care option, call my office at (949) 221-8105 x 2128, or email me at michael.loo@lpl.com to set up a no-strings-attached meeting.

(1) https://www.morningstar.com/articles/879494/75-mustknow-statistics-about-longterm-care-2018-ed.html

(2) https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html

(3) https://www.morningstar.com/articles/879494/75-mustknow-statistics-about-longterm-care-2018-ed.html

(4) https://www.525longtermcare.com/asset-based-ltci/

September 24, 2018

“What’s top of mind?” is an incredible starting point for a financial planning conversation. A client will oftentimes start with a story, not the balance of their retirement account or what they spent last month on dining out. More recently, children have been top of mind for a lot of families. How should we pay for college? Should we pay for college? I want to save for my child, but have more flexibility than an education account. Education and the cost of college is the obvious priority with kids. I’ll suggest protecting your child with life insurance with accelerated benefit riders as a second priority. Let me explain, after you just tensed up and committed yourself to not discussing.

As a parent, I pray nothing happens to my two sons. Unfortunately, I don’t have complete control of that outcome. Here are three reasons why I’ll suggest life insurance for your child.

Accelerated benefit riders give you access to the death benefit, if your son or daughter experiences a terminal diagnosis, chronic disability, or a critical event. If any of these conditions take place, I’m not going back to work the next day. I’ll living at the hospital, eating restaurant food, and spending money on unanticipated expenses outside of what health care pays for, without having to take a loan on my 401k or deplete my savings account.

A death benefit (unimaginable) provides peace of mind that if the worst were to happen, your family wouldn’t have to think about work, the mortgage, or time off. You simply could spend time together grieving the most difficult time in your life. Enough said.

The cash value growing inside of your indexed universal life policy (form of permanent insurance) creates a saving vehicles indexed to the S&P 500 over the life of the policy. If at a certain point in your now grown child’s life, you can surrender the policy and provide a jump start for their first down payment, wedding, or other significant event in their life, OR even give the policy to your child for them to now pay their own premium and have a level of life insurance in place.

Why don’t I invest my money in the market and have more to give to my child when he/she is grown? I agree with this philosophy, assuming none of the aforementioned events happen while your children are under your roof. Since the cost of insurance for a child is so low, I’m willing to protect my child first, then if nothing happens, I have an opportunity to gift them their starter policy as they start their own career and family. If you have a term policy in place, you can oftentimes add a child term rider for a small additional premium. Cheers to being a parent. If you have further questions about this type of planning, please reach out to Mark Nicolet, CFP®, at mark.nicolet@trilogyfs.com or 303-300-3323 ext. 5227.

This material contains only general descriptions and is not a solicitation to sell any insurance product or security, nor is it intended as any financial or tax advice. For information about specific insurance needs or situations, contact your insurance agent. This doesn't take into account your personal characteristics such as budget, assets, risk tolerance, family situation or activities which may affect the type of insurance that would be right for you. In addition, state insurance laws and insurance underwriting rules may affect available coverage and its costs. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company.

May 23, 2018

Technology provides ample flexibility when it comes to making purchasing decisions these days. You are no longer required to go somewhere, talk to anyone, or spend a great deal of time comparing options. The internet is a convenient place that is accessible wherever you are, doesn’t require you to talk through your purchase with a sales representative, and allows you to spend as much or as little time researching your decision as you’d like. This can make life more efficient and simpler, but when it comes to important decisions like purchasing life insurance, you run the risk of simplifying the decision too much, not fully understanding what you’re purchasing, and purchasing a policy that may not provide the most flexibility and options later in life when you need it most.

There is no shortage of information available about life insurance on the internet. A lot of it has negative connotations. From policies that historically haven’t provided what was promised, to salespeople coaxing consumers into products, and one size fits all advice. Most people come in with the base knowledge that they need term insurance if they have a spouse and children they want to protect financially if they pass away. Combine these two factors and people generally use the internet to find an inexpensive policy. However, when making a decision about life insurance there are a few important factors to consider besides simply the cost and the amount of insurance, namely living benefits or accelerated benefit riders, and whether the policy has a cash-value component.

While all policies are required to have a terminal illness rider, meaning the insured has the option of utilizing the death benefit prior to passing away if diagnosed with a terminal illness, not all policies come with a chronic or critical rider. A chronic illness rider can accelerate your death benefit if the insured is diagnosed with an illness and unable to perform two of the six daily activities of living (bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring). Considering how expensive long-term care insurance can be these days, having a chronic illness rider on a life insurance policy can provide some level of affordable protection (depending on your age when you get the policy). The critical rider can apply to injuries or illness and can include things like heart attack, stroke, paralysis, severe brain trauma, and diagnosis of invasive cancer. Having these riders in addition to one that protects against terminal illness adds a much more encompassing level of protection to the insured that can provide flexibility and options in an unplanned emergency.

Life insurance can also have a cash-value component or investment vehicle in addition to providing protection. Cash-value in a permanent life insurance vehicle is one of the only ways to build non-taxable income in retirement besides a Roth IRA. Other than the tax benefits, it can also enhance your plan with diversification and stability. It generally has some level of protection, called a “floor” that assets invested in the stock market wouldn’t have, meaning there is protection against the downside while allowing the investor to take advantage of positive markets.

Whether or not you choose a policy that has all of these components, it is important to consider which benefits are meaningful to you and are worth paying for. It can be hard to determine the pros and cons without talking to a licensed professional that has your best interest in mind and it can be difficult to really understand what you’re purchasing just by browsing the internet for the least expensive policy. Just like any insurance, the ideal situation is not needing it. But if you do, you’ll be happy you did your research and understand the vehicle you chose.

This material contains only general descriptions and is not a solicitation to sell any insurance product or security, nor is it intended as any financial or tax advice. This article is intended to assist in educating you about insurance generally and not to provide personal service. Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing company. If you need more information or would like personal advice you should consult an insurance professional. Riders are additional guarantee options that are available to an annuity or life insurance contract holder. While some riders are part of an existing contract, many others may carry additional fees, charges, and restrictions, and the policyholder should review their contract carefully before purchasing.

If you decide to downsize after retirement and have lived in your home for at least two years out of the last five from the date of sale, you can exclude up to $250,000 in capital gains from the proceeds and almost double that if you are married.

September 27, 2017

Most of us know you can use assets in a retirement investment account or an annuity to generate income during retirement. But did you know you can use certain kinds of life insurance policies to do the same thing?

What kind of life insurance?

There are two primary types of life insurance: term and permanent. To use an analogy, think of a term policy as renting a home, and think of a permanent policy as buying a home. Similar to building equity in a home you are buying, permanent policies usually have a feature where they accumulate money inside them called Cash Value. In the same way that a mortgage payment is divided into principal (equity) and interest (the cost of the loan), the premium payment for a properly designed permanent life policy is divided into Cash Value (equity) and the cost of insurance (paying for the actual death benefit). In addition to your own money, the insurance company typically credits your policy with interest or dividends each year, so the Cash Value grows over time.

Note: There are different types of permanent policies (for example, Whole Life, Universal Life, Variable Universal Life, etc.) and they each have their plusses and minuses. Describing the differences would be lengthy and outside the scope of this article. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to base the rest of this article on Universal Life.

So far, it sounds like an expensive savings account. What am I missing?

Using a life insurance policy to accumulate savings has some key differences from a savings account at your bank. First, the life policy offers tax deferred growth. In a bank savings account, you must report the interest you earn every year and pay income tax on it. The Cash Value in a life policy gets to grow tax deferred, just like in a qualified retirement account. Without having to pay taxes along the way, your money grows faster.

Second, the interest rate that an insurance company pays is typically much higher than the interest rate that a bank will pay on a savings account. For example, at the time of this article, the national average interest rate on a bank savings account is 0.06%1, whereas universal life policies typically average around 3%-5%.2

The biggest difference between Cash Value and a bank savings account has to do with taking the money out. With a bank account, you can only take out the dollars that are there, but there is a way to take money out of a life policy that is leveraged3.

OK, how do I get the money out?

Although the insurance company would allow you to simply withdraw the cash value, that option has a big drawback. The amount of gain in the policy (the current cash value minus the dollars you contributed along the way) would be taxed at ordinary income tax rates. There is a better option.

Insurance companies offer a way to borrow against the cash value in your policy. The proceeds from the loan are tax-free. It is important to note that you are borrowing against the cash value, not from the cash value. That means your entire cash value balance continues to earn interest. Contrast that with any other type of account, where when you withdraw money, the only portion of your money that continues to earn is the money remaining in the account.

Just as with most loans, you must pay interest on the amount you borrow. The life insurance company will typically charge 4%-5% interest. However, the cash value continues to earn 3%-5% interest, so your net cost for the loan might only be 0%-1%. No other vehicle I know of allows you to do this!

But when I’m retired, isn’t taking out a loan a bad idea?

Typically, we want to reduce our fixed expenses during retirement. And typically, adding a fixed loan payment to our retirement budget would indeed be a bad idea. However, taking a loan from your life policy doesn’t add any payments to your budgets. None. In fact, the insurance company doesn’t even expect you to repay this loan during your lifetime. At your death, the loan will be paid off from a portion of the death benefit, while the remainder will go to your beneficiaries. In a well-designed policy, your death benefit will grow over time. This should allow you to borrow tax-free income every year during retirement, pay off the loan when you die, and still have a sizeable death benefit remaining for your beneficiaries.

One small but important caution

What makes this entire strategy possible is the way life insurance proceeds are taxed. Loans taken against the policy are not taxed, nor is the death benefit taxed when received by your beneficiaries. If you take out too much money from the policy and don’t leave enough inside to pay the continuing cost of the policy, the policy will lapse (meaning the insurance company will cancel the policy). If that happens while you are still alive, then the IRS wipes out all of the tax benefits, and all that money you took out becomes taxable. That is a tax bill you want to avoid at all costs.

How do I add this strategy to my retirement plan?

Designing a policy correctly requires experience and advanced training. Many agents who only sell policies and don’t do financial planning may not be properly trained in the intricacies of this strategy. Make sure you get your policy from a reputable advisor who fully understands this strategy, and who can show you how it fits into the rest of your financial plan. This is not the kind of policy you want to buy over the internet or from an 800 number!

https://www.valuepenguin.com/banking/average-bank-interest-rates

Kelly, Patrick. (2007). Tax-Free Retirement

Dictionary.com defines leverage as “the use of a small initial investment, credit, or borrowed funds to gain a very high return in relation to one's investment, to control a much larger investment, or to reduce one's own liability for any loss.” http://www.dictionary.com/browse/leverage

September 18, 2017

Generally, people purchase life insurance because they have a spouse or child they want to protect financially in case they pass away. But, there are several other reasons to buy life insurance that can benefit more than just those who need to protect their family. One of those benefits is accumulating tax-deferred, tax-free, cash value.  Just like a Roth IRA, the cash value in a permanent life insurance policy can grow on a tax-deferred status and be accessed tax-free, but without the consequence of incurring a 10% penalty if accessed before attaining age 59.5. “Living Benefits”, also known as “Accelerated Benefit Riders” are another advantage of life insurance other than the death benefit. As the name suggests, “living benefits” can be utilized in certain circumstances by the policy holder without passing away.

Common living benefits allow the policy holder to access all or some of the death benefit of their policy to help provide managed care if they are diagnosed with a critical or chronic illness. ABRs originated in the 80s and 90s when companies called “viaticals” found a market for purchasing life insurance policies from people that were very sick who realized they needed money now to help pay their medical bills more than their beneficiaries needed the death benefit. The insurance industry realized what was happening and started adapting policies to include Accelerated Benefit Riders to help their consumers get access to expensive medical care, outside of what health care would cover, while they were sick.

Living Benefits that are common today are terminal, chronic and critical illness or critical injury riders. It is important to talk to your advisor and read the fine print when considering different insurance policies because riders can differ significantly between insurance companies and policies. Terminal illness riders will allow the insured to accelerate a portion of their death benefit, tax-free if they are diagnosed with a terminal illness. Some companies require a diagnosis of 24 months or less to live while others require 12 months or less to live. A chronic illness rider is generally triggered when the insured has a long-term illness in which they are unable to perform two of the six “Activities of Daily Living” including eating, dressing, toileting, transferring, bathing, and maintaining continence. Some companies structure these riders to pay a large benefit upfront and some will provide a much smaller amount but spread over a long period of time. Lastly, critical illness/injury can include many things – heart attacks, stroke, cancer, brain trauma, severe burns etc. and the amount of benefit that is paid out depends on how critical the injury/illness is and how much it will affect the insured’s life span.

Because medicine and medical technology have advanced so rapidly, people are living much longer lives than they used to live. The US Census Bureau reports that at least 70% of people over age 65 will require some long-term care at some point in their lives . In 2014, the annual rate for a skilled nursing facility was $95,707 .  Because traditional, stand-alone Long-Term Care policies can be incredibly expensive, utilizing life insurance can be a great way to build assets throughout your income-earning years that are earmarked for advanced medical costs later on and can protect yourself and your loved ones from unknown health scares.

Riders are additional guarantee options that are available to an annuity or life insurance contract holder. While some riders are part of an existing contract, many others may carry additional fees, charges and restrictions, and the policy holder should review their contract carefully before purchasing. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Withdrawals from the policy may result in the reduction of the death benefit.

  1. US Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2013
  2. Univita Cost of Care Survey, Feb 2014

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