Life and Financial Services

Funding of Buy/Sell Agreements

buy–sell agreement, also known as a buyout agreement, is a legally binding agreement between co-owners of a business that governs the situation if a co-owner dies or is otherwise forced to leave the business, or chooses to leave the business.

It may be thought of as a sort of premarital agreement between business partners/shareholders or is sometimes called a “business will”. An insured buy–sell agreement, (triggered buyout is funded with life insurance on the participating owner’s lives) is often recommended by business succession specialists and financial planners to ensure the buy–sell arrangement is well-funded and to guarantee there will be money when the buy–sell event is triggered.

Deferred Compensation Funding

Deferred compensation is an arrangement in which a portion of an employee’s income is paid out at a date after which that income is actually earned. Examples of deferred compensation include pensionsretirement plans, and stock options. The primary benefit of most deferred compensation is the deferral of tax to the date(s) at which the employee actually receives the income.

Key Person Insurance

Key person insurance, also commonly called keyman insurance and key man insurance, is an important form of business insurance. There is no legal definition for “key person insurance”. In general, it can be described as an insurance policy taken out by a business to compensate that business for financial losses that would arise from the death or extended incapacity of the member of the business specified on the policy. The policy’s term does not extend beyond the period of the key person’s usefulness to the business. The aim is to compensate the business for losses and facilitate business continuity. Key person insurance does not indemnify the actual losses incurred but compensates with a fixed monetary sum as specified on the insurance policy.

An employer may take out a key person insurance policy on the life or health of any employee whose knowledge, work, or overall contribution is considered uniquely valuable to the company. The employer does this to offset the costs (such as hiring temporary help or recruiting a successor) and losses (such as a decreased ability to transact business until successors are trained) which the employer is likely to suffer in the event of the loss of a key person.

Estate

Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity.

Level Term Life

Much more common than annual renewable term insurance is guaranteed level premium term life insurance, where the premium is guaranteed to be the same for a given period of years. The most common terms are 10, 15, 20, and 30 years.

In this form, the premium paid each year remains the same for the duration of the contract. This cost is based on the summed cost of each year’s annual renewable term rates, with a time value of money adjustment made by the insurer. Thus, the longer the term the premium is level for, the higher the premium, because the older, more expensive to insure years are averaged into the premium.

Most level term programs include a renewal option and allow the insured to renew for a maximum guaranteed rate if the insured period needs to be extended. It is important to note that the renewal may or may not be guaranteed and the insured should review their contract to see if evidence of insurability is required to renew the policy. Typically this clause is invoked only if the health of the insured deteriorates significantly during the term, and poor health would prevent them from being able to provide proof of insurability.

Most term life policies include an option to convert the term life policy to a Universal Life or Whole Life policy. This option can be useful to a person who acquired the term life policy with a preferred rating class and later is diagnosed with a condition that would make it difficult to qualify for a new term policy. The new policy is issued at the rate class of the original term policy. Note that this right to convert may not extend to the end of the Term Life policy. It may extend a fixed number of years or to a specified age, such as convertible to age 70.

Whole Life

Whole life insurance, or whole of life assurance (in the Commonwealth), is a life insurance policy that remains in force for the insured’s whole life and requires (in most cases) premiums to be paid every year into the policy.

All life insurance was originally temporary (term) insurance. However, because term life insurance only pays a claim upon early premature death within the stated term, a number of term insurance policy holders became upset over the idea that they would most likely be paying premiums for 20 or 30 years and then wind up with nothing to show for it. Temporary insurance only pays out 2-3% of the time. This has become known as the “Lost Opportunity Cost” called term insurance.

In response to market pressures, actuaries produced an insurance policy with level contributions that would last a lifetime. These contracts would offer a “cash value” which was designed to be a cash reserve that would build up against the known claim-–the death benefit. These policies would also credit guaranteed interest to the cash value account. Upon maturity of the contract (usually at age 95 or 100), the cash value would equal the death benefit. By guaranteeing the death benefit, the policy owner was assured that insurance coverage would be in force when the insured died, allowing them to unlock and exploit other assets. Upon the death of the insured, the cash value would be surrendered to the insurance company and the beneficiary would receive the death benefit. If, before their death, the insured wished to borrow the cash value and forfeit the death benefit, the cash value would be paid back with interest minus dividends paid, making it the lowest cost way to access one’s wealth.

Universal Life

Universal life insurance (often shortened to UL) is a type of permanent life insurance. The policy is established with the insurer where premium payments above the cost of insurance are credited to the cash value of the policy. The cash value is credited each month with interest, and the policy is debited each month by a cost of insurance (COI) charge, as well as any other policy charges and fees which are drawn from the cash value, even if no premium payment is made that month. The interest credited to the account is determined by the insurer; sometimes it is pegged to a financial index such as a stock, bond or other interest rate index.

Disability Income Protection

Disability Insurance, often called DI or disability income insurance, is a form of insurance that insures the beneficiary’s earned income against the risk that a disability will make working uncomfortable (as with psychological disorders), painful (as with back pain), or impossible (as with coma). It encompasses paid sick leave, short-term disability benefits, and long-term disability benefits.

Statistics show that in the US a disabling accident occurs on average once every second.