In most cases, you’re probably hoping to outlive your term life insurance policy. Outliving a policy of this type means you’re still around to experience more life, and hopefully, with less debt and obligations to cover in the future. But, what if you outlive your whole life insurance policy?
According to estimates from the US Census Bureau, the population of people over the age of 55 grew twenty times faster than the population of people younger than 55 between 2010 and 2020. The fastest growing age group was people between the ages of 65 and 74, who experienced a nearly 50% increase in growth in those 10 years. Living this long may have unexpected tax consequences. Here’s why.
Many older life insurance policies mature at a specific age, typically 95 or 100. If the insured individual attains that age, the policy’s cash value may be paid out to the policy owner in lieu of a death benefit payment.
This payout may be taxed as ordinary income on the amount that exceeds the policy owner’s cost basis (or the sum of after-tax premiums). The after-tax amount would then become part of the policy owner’s estate and may be subject to further taxation upon the policy owner’s death.
If a policy is owned by an irrevocable trust, the trust is generally responsible for any tax owed, though the proceeds would not become part of the insured’s estate if the insured had no incidents of ownership.
Avoiding the Taxable Risk
This taxable risk may be mitigated through a maturity extension rider, which allows the policy to continue until the death of the insured. Many newer life policies come with a higher maturity age (like 120) or an indefinite period.
If your life policy does mature or expire at a specific age, you generally have a few options other than a payout to consider. Your policy may allow you to continue paying premiums until your death, or they may keep your policy active but not require you to continue paying. Others may offer exchanges into new policy or other opportunities. If you are faced with these options, it may be best to discuss them with your financial advisor who can help you determine which choice is right for you.
Sources and Footnotes:
- Brookings.edu, January 11, 2021
- Several factors will affect the cost and availability of life insurance, including age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased. Life insurance policies have expenses, including mortality and other charges. If a policy is surrendered prematurely, the policyholder also may pay surrender charges and have income tax implications. You should consider determining whether you are insurable before implementing a strategy involving life insurance. Any guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments.
- Investopedia.com, 2020
- The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.
- Using a trust involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward with a trust, consider working with a professional who is familiar with the rules and regulations.
Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this content, will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), or be suitable for you or your portfolio. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter (article) serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Searcy Financial Services, Inc.
The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.
Published for the blog on December 16, 2021 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.