Permanent life insurance, including whole life and universal life, provides long-term life insurance for the policyholder. Most policies feature a level premium over the life of the policy. You will always know your premium amount so you will not be surprised by increases, as you might be if you renewed a term policy. Because of the permanent nature of this type of insurance, you also have the added benefit of accumulated cash value. That cash value can be used by the policyholder through loans and other withdrawal options, and can be an important addition to your retirement planning.
There are several unique tax advantages of permanent life insurance that are not found with other financial tools.
o Cash value accumulates free of taxation. You will not be required to pay income tax on interest or other earnings that are credited to cash value.
o Borrowing the cash value may be done without having to pay income tax. Loans are generally treated as debts and are not subject to income tax. In addition, these loans may not need to be repaid. If you build up a large amount of cash value and maintain a minimum death benefit to cash value ratio, you can borrow against the cash value for systematic payments that can supplement your retirement income. Be aware, however, that the cash value may be subject to income taxes when there is a withdrawal from or surrender of the policy, or if the cash value to death benefit ratio is not maintained. Also, loans accrue interest and they can reduce the overall value of the policy. And lastly, if the policy is a modified endowment contract, the loan may be taxable upon issuance.
o Your beneficiaries receive the death benefit free of income taxation. This tax advantage is true of both term and permanent policies.
o By arranging the beneficiary designations in accordance with current laws, you can avoid potential estate taxes and probate costs. By placing ownership and naming beneficiaries outside your estate, you may be able to avoid the proceeds of the policy going into your estate and thus being subject to estate taxes. Keep in mind, however, that to avoid estate inclusion for existing policies, you must transfer the policy at least three years before your death.
Permanent life insurance policies offer unique tax advantages, as well as the traditional death benefit enjoyed by all life insurance policies. Consult your insurance agent at 314-351-HALO(4256) and attorney to discuss the advantages of this financial product so that you and your loved ones may reap all the benefits it has to offer.