Do You Really Need Life Insurance?

Too many Americans have no life insurance. Their loved ones may pay dearly for that choice.

  

Provided by Michael R Snow

 

September is National Life Insurance Awareness Month – a good time to think about the value and importance of insuring yourself.

 

According to a recent Bankrate survey, 42% of Americans have no life insurance at all. They may not know that life insurance coverage has become much more affordable than it once was.1

 

Many people ask if life insurance is really worth the cost; maybe you are among them. The simple answer to that question is yes. It can be stunningly cheap: a healthy, non-smoking man in his thirties may pay less than $45 a month for a $1 million 20-year term policy. Permanent life insurance costs more than term life insurance, but permanent life policies can build cash value over time; term policies cannot.2

 

Life insurance is about managing risk, and if other people rely on you financially, you need to have it in place in case your passing puts them at financial risk. When a spouse or parent dies, there are financial matters to address: a sudden lack of income for a household, bills and mortgages or rent to pay, final expenses such as funeral or cremation costs, and the cost of children’s education. Without adequate life insurance coverage, a household is hard-pressed to meet these immediate, financially draining challenges.

 

Many growing families have inadequate life insurance coverage. The Bankrate survey discovered that 37% of parents with children under age 18 had no policy at all. Some younger families find coverage through group plans, but perhaps not enough: 32% of the survey respondents raising minor children said that the death benefits on their life insurance contracts were $100,000 or less.1

 

The problem of inadequate coverage seems to plague households of all ages. A five-figure life insurance payout can pay for a funeral, but it will not offer much economic insulation to a family after a wage earner dies. Bankrate found that 47% of the Americans who have life insurance have policies with coverage amounts of $100,000 or lower. Twenty-one percent of Americans have policies with death benefits of $25,000 or lower.1

 

How much coverage is adequate for you? Ideally, you should determine that with the help of an insurance professional. As a rough rule of thumb, the death benefit on a policy should be about 15 times your income. If you are considering a term life policy, the term should not end before your envisioned retirement age.2

 

Life insurance can also be valuable while you are alive. A policy with cash value components may grow over time. After a while, you may be able to borrow against the cash value. Sometimes the payout amount on these types of policies can be adjusted as well as the size of the premiums. Of course, you must keep paying the premiums to keep any kind of permanent life or term life policy in force.3

 

While you may decide you prefer one kind of policy over another, the important thing is to have coverage in place – not just to reassure yourself, but those you love. Life insurance can help a spouse or a family maintain financial equilibrium at a time when it is most needed.

 

Michael R Snow may be reached at 316-765-7738 or info@tower-strategies.com

http://www.tower-strategies.com

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

*Financial Advisor offering investment advisory services through Tower Financial Strategies Corp., a Registered Investment Adviser. Tower Financial Strategies Corp. is also a licensed Insurance Agency. (not licensed in all states)

  

Citations.

1 – bankrate.com/finance/insurance/money-pulse-0715.aspx [7/8/15]

2 – forbes.com/sites/timmaurer/2016/01/05/10-things-you-absolutely-need-to-know-about-life-insurance/ [1/5/16]

3 – nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/should-you-consider-cash-value-life-insurance/ [5/6/15]

 

Should You Leave Your IRA to a Child?

 

What you should know about naming a minor as an IRA beneficiary.

 

Provided by Michael Snow

  

Can a child inherit an IRA? The answer is yes, though they cannot legally own the IRA and its invested assets. Until the child turns 18 (or 21, in some states), the inherited IRA is a custodial account, managed by an adult on behalf of the minor beneficiary.1,2

  

IRA owners who name minors as beneficiaries have good intentions. Their idea is to “stretch” a large Roth or traditional IRA. Distributions from the inherited IRA can be scheduled over the (long) expected lifetime of the young beneficiary, with the possibility that compounding will partly or fully offset them.2

 

Those good intentions may be disregarded, however. When minor IRA beneficiaries become legal adults, they have the right to do whatever they want with those IRA assets. If they want to drain the whole IRA to buy a Porsche or fund an ill-conceived start-up, they can.2

 

How can you have a say in what happens to the IRA assets? You could create a trust to serve as the IRA beneficiary, as an intermediate step before your heir takes possession of those assets as a young adult.

 

In other words, you name a trust as the beneficiary of your IRA, and your child or grandchild as a beneficiary of the trust. When you have that trust in place, you have more control over what happens with the inherited IRA assets.2

 

The trust can dictate the how, what, and when of the income distribution. Perhaps you specify that your heir gets $10,000 annually from the trust beginning at age 30. Or, maybe you include language that mandates that your heir take distributions over their life expectancy. You can even stipulate what the money should be spent on and how it should be spent.2

 

A trust is not for everyone. The IRA needs to be large to warrant creating one, as the process of trust creation can cost several thousand dollars. No current-year tax break comes your way from implementing a trust, either.2

 

In lieu of setting up a trust, you could simply name an IRA custodian. In this case, the term “custodian” refers not to a giant investment company, but a person you know and have faith in who you authorize to make investing and distribution decisions for the IRA. One such person could be named as the custodian; another, as a successor custodian.2

 

What if you designate a minor as the beneficiary of your IRA, but fail to put a custodian in place? If there is no named custodian, or if your named custodian is unable to serve in that role, then a trip to court is in order. A parent of the child, or another party who wants guardianship over the IRA assets, will have to go to court and ask to be appointed as the IRA custodian.2

 

You should also recognize that the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act reshaped the “kiddie tax.” This is the federal tax on a minor’s net unearned income. Required minimum distributions (RMDs) from inherited IRAs are subject to this tax. A minor’s net unearned income is now taxed at the same rate as trust income rather than at the parents’ marginal tax rate.3,4

 

This is a big change. Income tax brackets for a trust or a child under age 19 are now set much lower than the brackets for single or joint filers or heads of household. A 10% rate applies for the first $2,550 of taxable income, but a 24% rate plus $255 of tax applies at $2,551; a 35% rate plus $1,839 of tax, at $9,151; a 37% rate plus $3,011.50 of tax, at $12,501 and up.3,5

 

While this is a negative for middle-class families seeking to leave an IRA to a child, it may be a positive for wealthy families: the new kiddie tax rules may reduce the child’s tax liability when compared with the old rules.4

 

One last note: if you want to leave your IRA to a minor, check to see if the brokerage holding your IRA allows a child or a grandchild as an IRA beneficiary. Some brokerages do, while others do not.1

 

Michael Snow may be reached at 316-765-7738 or info@tower-strategies.com

http://www.tower-strategies.com

 

Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such.

 

Michael Snow offers Investment Advisory services through Tower Financial Strategies Corp., a Registered Investment Adviser.

 

Citations.

1 – investopedia.com/articles/retirement/09/minor-as-ira-beneficiary.asp [6/19/18]

2 – kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C000-S004-pass-an-ira-to-young-grandkids-with-care.html [5/17]

3 – forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2018/05/08/the-kiddie-tax-grows-up/ [5/8/18]

4 – tinyurl.com/y7bonwzx [5/31/18]

5 – forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/03/07/new-irs-announces-2018-tax-rates-standard-deductions-exemption-amounts-and-more/ [3/7/18]