The main emphasis of having life insurance for individuals and their families is to help replace income that is lost, provide death benefits, and an overall protection of family members from the losses possibly resulting from the death of the insured individual. Equity-indexed life insurance offers many additional benefits by way of tax advantages, unique to that of life insurance.
When it comes to speaking about life insurance, there are two typical categories to be discussed. The first is term insurance. Term insurance provides what is known as "pure" insurance protection. This type pays beneficiaries a death benefit if the insured individual is to die during the policies term. On the contrary, if the insured individual lives, the policy will expire without any value at the end of the given term. In many cases, the individual can choose to renew the policy for an addition term. Usually, this decision will carry a higher premium.
The second category and type of life insurance policy is typically known as "permanent" or "cash value" life insurance. Included in these policies are whole life and universal life as well as others. A policy such as this is typically designed to provide the insured with long-term life insurance coverage, usually for the insured's entire life.
This option also features a flexible premium as well as the opportunity to accumulate cash value. This is available to the owner of the policy through policy loans and alternative options. These options reduce the death benefit.
Among financial products, life insurance holds a unique status. The tax benefits of life insurance are:
- No current income tax on interest or other earnings credited to cash value. While the cash value accumulates, it is not subject to current taxation.
- No income tax penalty if you choose to borrow cash value from the policy through loans. Typically, loans are seen and treated as debts, not as taxable distributions. With this option, it can give you practically unlimited access to cash value on the basis of tax advantage. In addition, the loans do not need to be rapid. Over time, after a sizable amount of cash value has accumulated, it can systematically be borrowed against to help supplement retirement income. In many cases, you may never pay even one cent of income tax on the gain.
- *There are several cautions regarding policy loans: First, loans are charged interest and policy loans can reduce the overall value of the policy. Second, the cash value can be potentially subject to income taxes if/when there is a withdrawal from or surrender of the policy. The same situations applies if a certain ratio of death benefit to cash value is not maintained. Third, if the policy is a modified endowment contract, the loan may be taxable.
- The policy holder's heirs pay no income tax on the proceeds. Beneficiaries will receive death benefits completely free of income taxation.
- You can avoid potential estate taxes and probate costs on policy proceeds, as long as the beneficiary designations and policy ownership are arranged in accordance with current law. For instance, if you own your policy at the time of your death or make your estate the beneficiary, the policy proceeds will generally be included in your estate at death. This can increase the value of your estate, triggering estate taxes. This situation may be avoided, however, by placing ownership and naming beneficiaries outside your estate. If the policy is structured properly, proceeds will not be included in your estate. However, to avoid estate inclusion for existing policies, the policy must be transferred more than three years before your death. Consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your particular circumstances.
Please visit our website at http://www.ifclegacy.com/ to have an independent fiduciary 401k advisor at Integrity Financial Corporation in Bellevue analyze and evaluate your company's 401k plan.