Many people have annuity contracts that date to pre-Ronald Reagan. Folks often think they are stuck with these annuities because if they cash out, they will owe big taxes. Therefore, they feel there are not many options for this money.
If you are in this boat, there is good news for you. If you have an old annuity or an old insurance policy with cash value in it, you can transfer your cash to a new annuity contract or life insurance under the rules of a section 1035 exchange.*
What is a 1035 Exchange?
A 1035 exchange is basically a like asset transfer that permits tax free transfers under the tax code. Like asset means it must be a transfer from one asset to a similar asset. Specifically under 1035, annuities or cash value from a life insurance contract can be exchanged into a new annuity or life insurance. The exception in this rule is that an annuity can not be exchanged into an annuity.
Why is this good? (taken from our Financial 101 Page on 1035 Exchanges)
You may have built up significant cash in an old policy (which is good) but that policy lacks some of the newer features and benefits that new annuities or life insurance offer. Some examples of improvements could be:
- Your current annuity company’s payout ratio for conversion to an immediate annuity income stream is not as generous as another company. Solution: 1035 exchange to the new company and establish an immediate annuity
- Your current fixed annuity earns a simple interest rate but you like the idea of a newer policy with a guaranteed* income rider and the ability to invest in stocks. Solution: exchange that fixed for a variable annuity with these benefits.
- You have a $25,000 life insurance policy with $25,000 of cash value. Your goals have changed and you want to invest the money more aggressively. Solution: exchange the life insurance for a variable annuity
- You have significant cash in a life insurance policy, but there it does not have a no-lapse guarantee. After proper analysis and comparison, you find another company that will offer a no-lapse guarantee and the transfer economics work. Solution: exchange the cash value to a new life insurance policy
There are many options to consider here of course. However, the important thing is not to look at your life insurance or annuity in a tunnel. A comprehensive analysis of your insurance products is required and then you can determine the best course of action to provide retirement security and develop your own plan for a secure income stream in retirement. It is also important that you make sure you don’t make any of the mistakes often involved with poorly executed exchanges that cause an unintended taxable event.
Working with a financial advisor teamed with an insurance expert and tax expert can help you pull all of this together. If you are in this situation, it may make sense to analyze your assets and financial situation to see if updates to your financial plan make sense.
Don’t Know What to Do?
If you are facing a situation like this and don’t know what to do, give me a call. We have helped people in many situations like this. If you would first like some questions answered give us a call – 781.393.0021 or send us a quick contact and we can go from there. Thanks for stopping by!
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*Certain protocols must be followed when enacting a 1035 exchange and the IRS can be very strict about this. Example IRS Bulletin – consult an advisor before attempting a 1035 exchange
Guarantees offered by insurance companies are based on the claims-paying ability of the insurers and are not government or FDIC guaranteed in any way
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