Annuities basics

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Please note I am not a licensed insurance agent. This post is for information purpose only. 

Upon retirement, many people decide to convert their savings into an annuity. But what is an annuity?

AN ANNUITY IS A CONTRACT GUARANTEEING AN INCOME FOR A SET PERIOD OF TIME

Basically, you buy it with your savings and the money is returned to you in the form of set payments as well as any interest earned.

There are different contracts that can match your needs: straight-life, term, prescribed, indexed, insured, variable, joint-life (for couples), guaranteed minimum..etc

ANNUITIES ARE GREAT IF YOU ARE CONCERNED WITH OUTLIVING YOUR SAVINGS

If you buy a straight-life annuity, payments are guaranteed until you die. A number of term annuities can make payments until you are 90.

ANNUITIES TAKE AWAY INVESTMENT CONCERNS

With an annuity, you don’t have to worry about selling stocks, bonds and re-balancing your portfolio. The insurer will do it for you.

ANNUITIES CAN BE A SOLUTION IF YOU ARE SINGLE WITH NO DEPENDENTS

Most annuity contracts will stop payments upon your death and will not necessarily return the excess funds to your estate. If leaving a legacy is not a priority, you can choose a higher payout instead.

ANNUITIES MAY NOT WORK IF YOU ARE IN POOR HEALTH

if you are not expected to live a long retirement due to health issues or a terminal illness, an annuity may not be the best solution for you.

ONCE YOU BOUGHT THE ANNUITY, YOU ARE LOCKED IN

This is the biggest drawback of this product. Once you have signed the contract, you cannot go back. You no longer have control over the money you handed over, nor can you choose how to invest the money.

THE INCOME IS CALCULATED AT THE TIME YOU BUY THE ANNUITY

If interests rates are higher upon purchasing, you can expect a higher payout. If they are lower, your payment will also be.

Age, gender, life expectancy and the amount of money you have also influence the payout.

As a rule of thumb, you are better off buying an annuity when you are 70 or older.

ANNUITIES ARE TAXABLE

If you buy your annuity from an RRSP or a RRIF, you will be taxed at your marginal rate.

If you buy from a non-registered account, you only pay tax on the interest portion of the payment. As you age, the income received will gradually shift to the principal, lowering your tax bill overtime.

A good tax advantage is with a prescribed annuity. The insurer will pay an even amount of both principal and interest,evening out the portion subjected to tax.

YOU NEED TO CHECK THE INSURER’S FINANCIAL POSITION

As annuities are guaranteed contracts, the insurer needs to be in a solid financial position.

Should the insurer become insolvent, Assuris will provide 85% or $ 2 000 of the monthly payout.

FINAL WORD

Annuities are complex products, but they are definitely worth a look. An annuity can be a great part of your retirement plan, but it should never be your entire plan.

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