Annuities have gotten a bad rap in the last few years, especially for their role in the sometimes risky variable annuity market. But annuities can actually be a great way to use your savings to generate reliable income in retirement. An annuity is a financial contract that provides you with fixed payments or benefits for a pre-defined period of time or until you meet certain conditions (such as death).
They can be purchased with a lump sum of money, through periodic payments and contributions, or as an added feature of another product (for example, an insurance policy). While annuities aren’t suitable for everyone, they do offer great benefits for many people. Read on for five tips about buying an annuity and getting the most out of your retirement.
1. Analyse your current and future financial requirements.
The first step when considering buying an annuity is to analyse your current situation, as well as your financial requirements in the future (such as your healthcare expenses). This will help you determine what type of annuity best suits your needs. An annuity can provide you with regular payments (such as monthly payments or single large payment) for the rest of your life or the lives of your spouse and/or children.
Annuities come in two main types: Immediate Annuities and Deferred Annuities. Immediate Annuities are generally used to generate a single lump-sum payment, while Deferred Annuities can be used to generate continuous monthly payments. Immediate Annuities have a shorter contract period, so you will receive payments for a shorter period of time. Deferred Annuities, on the other hand, have a longer contract period so that you’ll receive payments for a longer period of time.
So, you can start right now. Ask yourself, what are your needs? What are you looking to take out an annuity for? Are you looking for a regular income? Are you looking to secure your finances for the future? If you have answered yes to these questions, then an annuity could be your answer.
You also need to ask yourself whether the money you would put into an annuity would be better spent doing something else. For example, do you plan to use it as an investment to start a business in the future? If so, then an annuity is perhaps not for you because you won’t be able to touch the money for several years (usually between five or ten) without being charged a penalty.
You need to ask yourself whether you’re going to need the money you’re thinking about investing in your annuity in the near and long-term and how much risk you’re willing to deal with. Remember, most annuities have minimal initial deposits that sit somewhere between the £5,000 and £10,000 mark, sometimes even as high as £50,000.
Do you want that money to gain an average of 2.25% a year (based on current averages), or do you want to risk starting a business with this capital, where the return could be much more?
2. Select an annuity product based on your goals.
After some thought, you may decide an annuity is for you, and you’re looking at how to proceed. When choosing a type of annuity, keep in mind your current financial situation and your goals for the future. For example, if you want to leave a legacy for your children, you may want to purchase an annuity with a death benefit.
If you want to ensure a monthly income for life, you may want to purchase a guaranteed income annuity. Annuity rates are generally higher for older people, so if you’re aged 55 or older, you may want to consider a deferred death benefit (DDD) annuity, which provides a death benefit if you die while the annuity is in force. A DDD annuity also acts as a longevity insurance policy, which means it will pay out more than the original death benefit if you live longer than expected.
If you’re aged 45–54, you may want to consider purchasing an immediate annuity, which provides you with a lump sum payment that you can use now. If you’re aged below 45, you may want to purchase an immediate annuity with a death benefit. This type of annuity provides you with a one-time lump sum payment, and the annuity company will pay your beneficiaries a death benefit if you die while the plan is in force.
Taking the state of mind you developed from the first tip, you need to think about your financial goals and what you’re trying to achieve, and then start thinking about which annuity is best suited for these goals.
Again, if you want to grow the investment to have enough capital to start your own business, you’ll need an annuity that reflects this. Whether you’re looking for an annuity that will see you through retirement or will protect your money so you can safely pass it onto your family after you pass away, you’re going to need an annuity that reflects these goals.
However, if you think about the risks involved and how the annuity will change depending on how much you earn in future years, it’s important to understand what level of risk is acceptable and how much risk is too much for you. After all, if you want the money for later on, you won’t want a variable annuity because the risk may be considered too high since your annuity can actually lose value. Nevertheless, if you’re able to play the long game and want to take the risk, it could end up becoming quite profitable.
3. Select your preferred annuity provider.
Now that you’ve thought about your annuity goals, as well as what type you want, it’s actually time to start connecting the dots and finding an annuity that works for you. For most people, this will simply be a case of carrying out an online search to see which options are available to you right now.
While there are many trusted providers of annuities, you should always conduct due diligence to make sure you’re making the best decision for yourself and your family. You can start by asking yourself a few questions.
- What type of annuity do you need (deferred or immediate)?
- What is your investment horizon?
- What is your tolerance for risk?
- How much are you willing to pay?
- What are your other financial goals?
- Are you looking for a fixed rate and return annuity?
- Are you going for a variable term? Do you need a three, five, or ten-year plan?
- Do you want optional benefit rider features?
Whatever you’re looking for, start searching and write down the names of all the plans you like the look of, including the features, rates, and fees, and start comparing.
Next, research different annuity providers to find out which ones meet your needs and fall within your budget. You can start your search with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website, where you can search and read public information on thousands of companies, including insurance companies. It’s also worth looking at online customer reviews, so you can explore the experiences that other customers have had with the company. However, remember that many people who have had bad experiences are more likely to leave reviews as a way of venting their frustrations, so take them with a pinch of salt.
Finally, you can also talk to your financial advisor or someone at your local retirement planning centre who will be able to provide you with professionally-backed options based on your personal circumstances. Don’t forget to explore the terms. Some annuity providers will charge you annual fees, whereas others won’t. Some will penalise you with surrender charges for withdrawing your money early, whereas others will offer early access benefits and features. Every plan will require a minimum initial payment to get the account open. Some plans will allow future contributions, and others won’t.
4. Complete the application.
Once you’ve selected your annuity provider, it’s time to complete the application process. You will have to provide all the relevant documentation, such as your Social Security/National Insurance number, proof of your employment and income, your address and birthdate.
You may also be required to take a medical exam by an approved doctor, especially if your preferred annuity is tied to an insurance policy. You can expect the application process to take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. If you’ve decided to purchase an immediate annuity, you may also be required to provide a lump sum payment upfront.
If you’ve decided to purchase a deferred annuity, you may be required to deposit an initial lump sum payment. The annuity company will then invest this money on your behalf. Annuities are long-term financial products, so you’ll want to make sure you’re comfortable with the company’s investment strategy and process.
In most cases, you can make the application online or over the phone, and you’ll receive an answer within two to three days. If you need more time for consideration, you can request a longer response time. The company will then review your application and make an offer to you. You will be notified of the decision and given the opportunity to accept or decline their offer.
5. Make payment
If you’ve decided to purchase an immediate annuity, you will be required to pay a lump sum payment upfront. If you’ve decided to purchase a deferred annuity, you will be required to make periodic payments over time. The annuity company will invest your money on your behalf.
Annuities are long-term financial products, so you will want to make sure you’re comfortable with the company’s investment strategy and process. You will also want to make sure you understand the terms of your contract so that you can monitor your investment and how it’s performing over time.
Over time, you’ll start receiving reports on how your annuity is doing, and in many cases, you’ll be able to check online at any time by logging into your account. Then, after years have passed, you’ve reached a certain age or met the criteria of the annuity, you’ll be able to access your account to start withdrawing the money you’ve been saving all these years.
When is the best time to buy an annuity?
If you’re interested in an annuity, you should keep a few things in mind. First, annuities are generally available for people over the age of 60. However, the system has some flexibility, so if you’re under that age or have other financial needs, you can still buy one.
Is there a best time? Not really, and it will all depend on your financial needs, depending on where you are in your life and what financial position you’re in. Typically, annuities are designed for people later in life, planning for retirement or during, but most financial advisors will tell you between the ages of 70 and 75 is the best age for an income-based annuity to begin.
What Impact Will Buying an Annuity Have on My Retirement Plan?
An annuity will allow you to increase your income in retirement and for fixed products, provide certainty over what that income is. For this reason, annuities are a very popular option for those looking to turn their pension pot into a reliable income.
What should I consider before buying an annuity?
As with any financial decision, you’ll want to make sure you understand the full implications of buying an annuity. In addition to the tips mentioned above, you’ll want to consider the following factors before making your decision:
- The type of annuity you want to purchase
- The length of the contract
- The interest rate
- The death benefit
- The surrender charge
- The cost of the annuity
- The company’s rating
- The critic ratings
Can I buy an annuity if I’m not retired?
Yes, you can purchase an annuity at any age, even if you’re not retired. You can also purchase annuities for your spouse and/or children. Many annuity providers offer single-premium immediate annuities, which allow you to receive a guaranteed income for life and a death benefit.
You can also purchase a single-premium deferred annuity, which allows you to receive a guaranteed income for life and a death benefit and provides protection against rising interest rates. While there are no guarantees in life, purchasing an annuity at any age can provide you with a guaranteed source of income for the rest of your life, and it can be a great way to protect your loved ones.
Is buying an annuity a good idea?
Yes, buying an annuity is a great way to ensure that you have a predictable and reliable income in exchange for a cash lump sum. In this situation, an annuity is one of the best options for those who want to generate passive income.
Will I get my money back if I change my mind?
No, in general, when you buy an annuity, you are obligated to pay for its benefits for the rest of your life. As such, you have to be sure that the annuity will provide enough money to cover your needs. If it does not, you can always cancel the contract and get a refund of any payments made. However, this usually won’t come without fees, such as surrender charges.
These are basically charges that come into effect when you cancel the annuity and return the money you have paid. In some cases, they can be as high as 9%, so if you deposit £10,000, you can lose up to £900.
Before taking out an annuity, read all terms and conditions to see what rates and fees will affect you.
What is the Annuity Age 75 Rule?
In the UK, the Annuity Age 75 Rule states that if you die before the age of 75 and have an annuity, you can pass on the entire annuity and its funding to a beneficial or dependant in your life completely tax-free.
In nearly all cases, if you die over the age of 75, the funds can be passed on, but some kind of tax will need to be paid. This is an excellent protection to have because it means that your loved ones do not need to pay any tax on the annuity, therefore, securing the value of your investment for future generations.
However, this rule isn’t valid in all countries nor strictly adhered to by all annuity providers, so make sure you’re finding out whether this is relevant during your research stage of the process.