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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 35400  
Subject: Re: Plan For Mom Date: 6/13/2003 10:34 AM
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"Have you considered a variable annuity? She could put the principle in the fixed account currently paying about 3% in the New York Life annuities that I'm familiar with. She could sweep the interest into mutual funds of her liking and risk tolerance. The money would grow tax deferred and her principle would be guaranteed. She could annuitize in the future, do partial surrenders of up to 10%, or take out the gain without surrender charges if she needed the money at some point. There are lot's of other features, some of which are free and others that cost. I'd look into one for at least some of your mother's money. "

"Annuitizing" one's remaining capital is a good way of extending one's year-to-zero date. But, except in some cases where a gift to charity in exchange for income-for-life has a tax pay-off (not applicable to Mother Splotto), there's no reason for taking this route until actually reaching the point where one can no longer live off the returns, alone, and is forced to break into principle. And, if one has a son (or daughter or Dutch Uncle) who is willing to add to one's savings in exchange for inheritance, this accomplishes the same goal, without leaving the remnants to some insurance company, if one doesn't outlive the actuarials. (Since the actuarials build in profit and expenses, the break-even age for an offspring as "annuitizer" would be several years older than for the insurance company.)

The more I read by those not actually selling after-tax annuities, the less reason I see why anyone but a few in special tax circumstances would want to use them, especialy those getting up there in years, who don't have enough time left for the tax delay to make up for added expenses. The tax changes make this all the more true for any variable annuity holding stocks, and I'm yet to see any after-tax fixed annuity that's offering a rate good enough to prefer it to an FDIC insured CD (or an EE bond, if you're young enough for the tax deferral to pay off).

Vanguard and TIAA-Cref are known for low expenses on their variable annuities, but if you run a comparison between the same bond fund offered as a regular fund and as a variable annuity, for someone in a middle class tax bracket, it takes almost 20 years before the tax deferral advantage catches up with the higher expense ratio for the annuity. With someone like Mother Splotto in a bottom tax bracket, I doubt it would ever catch up. Of course, when you talk about something that generates low annual taxes, especially with dividends now being tax-advantaged, such as an index fund, the higher expense ratio for the annuity version of the fund makes it unlikely that the annuity will ever catch up, even for the young and wealthy, let along for the aging and not-wealthy. I really wish I knew why Vanguard, which usually is pretty up-front with information, is increasing its offerings of stock funds available for annuities.
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