Posts tagged ‘estate planning’

Simmons Wants to Kiss Life Insurance Worries Away

The Makeup Master

Gene Simmons, lead singer of rock group Kiss, was born as Chaim Witz in Israel 60 years ago. After 40 years of rocking & rolling, the band is still alive and well and touring this spring in the U.K. I am no stranger to Gene Simmons – as a matter of fact, Kiss was the first concert I attended as a kid at the San Francisco Cow Palace in the 1970s. Despite his early professional career success, all the limelight and money was not enough for Gene Simmons, so he put his entrepreneurial skills to the test and aggressively added a broad Kiss merchandising line (over 3,000 licensed/merchandise items), including everything from Kiss baby clothing and Kiss wine to Kiss dart boards and Kiss caskets. Yep, soup to nuts, from the cradle to the grave, and you can even purchase the merchandise with your Kiss Visa credit card!

All Aboard the Premium Financing Train

Now, Mr. Simmons has expanded his business interests to a broader set of financial services. Specifically, Simmons has co-founded  a company (Cool  Springs Life) that sells premium finance life insurance targeted at high net worth individuals. Simmons and CEO Samuel Watson stopped off at Bloomberg to spread the premium finance gospel:

Premium financing arrangements set up for life insurance are primarily designed for wealthy individuals with large, multi-million dollar estates. This explains a little about whom are the prime targets for life insurance premium financing, but why would wealthy individuals potentially want this financing tool?

Premium Financing Benefits:

  • Pay for Estate Taxes: The primary advantage of life insurance for the wealthy is to provide liquidity to beneficiaries (in the form of a death benefit) at the death of the “insured” to fund future estate taxes. Estate tax legislation is still up in the air, but in my view will likely increase to a hefty 45% to 55% rate over the next year. The tax-free liquidity (see a knowledgeable CPA to confirm tax status) provided to the surviving beneficiary by the insurance policy can be especially important if the deceased person’s assets are tied up in illiquid assets like real estate. The government is impatient in regards to tax collections, so gaining immediate access to the death benefit proceeds is a more attractive alternative than  forced sales of illiquid assets (potentially at fire-sale prices).
  • Other People’s Money: Some people prefer to purchase things with other people’s money. The cost of the financing can be another benefit to the strategy. The interest rate owed on a premium financing deal may be lower than the return a client can earn on alternative investments. If the investment strategy proves successful, the borrower will earn a positive spread on the loan (borrow low, invest high).
  • Lower Estate Value: By gifting life insurance assets to a trust (e.g., an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust – ILIT), there are ways for a wealthy donor to lower his estate value by employing gifting strategies and other estate planning structures. These estate planning tactics often preserve asset values for designated beneficiaries, rather than forking over unnecessarily high taxes to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). In some cases a knowledgeable attorney can structure premium payments in such a fashion that exemption allowances alleviate any potential gift tax consequence.

Normally nothing in life comes risk-free and the same principle applies to life insurance premium financing.

Premium Financing Risks:

  • Interest Rate Risk: Many of these contracts are constructed based on a floating interest rate structure like LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) , therefore if interest rates rise, the borrowers could expose themselves to higher interest payments.
  • Credit Risk of Lender: Heaven forbid we go through another financial crisis of the same scale as 2008-2009, but insurance players such as AIG were large players in the premium financing market during this period and caused significant disruption to all relevant participants in the premium financing food chain. Failure of a lender could compromise the integrity of the life insurance and estate planning strategy.
  • Risk of Deteriorating Borrower Assets: Depending on the circumstances and facts surrounding the  premium financing structure, the lender may require different forms of borrower collateral (i.e., stocks, bonds, real estate, letter of credit, etc.) on top of the cash value/surrender value of the life insurance policy. If the borrower’s collateral value decreases below a certain threshold, the borrower may be forced to supply additional collateral. 

For those people who want to rock and roll all night and party every day, perhaps life insurance premium financing is not for you. However, if you got a lot of dough and want to preserve the value of your estate, maybe you should give Gene Simmons a call. With a signed contract, he might even include a Kiss casket for your future funeral plans.

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper. 

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients own certain exchange traded funds and a derivative security of an AIG insurance subsidiary, but at time of publishing had no direct positions in AIG. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

March 28, 2010 at 11:00 pm 2 comments

Secure Your GPS (Global Portfolio Specialist)

We’ve all been there, our head in our hands, lost in the middle of nowhere. One reason for blame can be overconfidence in the directions provided or our map reading abilities. Now we have GPS (Global Positioning System) devices – a tool I now could never live without. In the investment world, with the damage that has been done, intelligent advice is needed more than ever. Unfortunately, there is no GPS device to guide our investments, but many individuals would do their self a favor by finding the right experienced professional advisor to act as your GPS device (Global Portfolio Specialist).

Getting from point A to point B in the real world can be quite simple. In the investment world, the roadways are constantly shifting. Changes in interest rates, tax policies, unemployment, fiscal initiatives can represent obstacles, the equivalent of road construction barriers, potholes, erosion, mudslides, and earthquakes in our quest for financial freedom. Navigating these winding paths can require a GPS advice. Asking for help or directions can be embarrassing and castigating for some, especially for some proud males. Stubbornly appearing to have the answer can be more important for some, and can cloud the decision making process – even if assistance can lead to the most efficient path to prosperity.

Having a guide at your fingertips as you meet unknown forks in the road is a nice asset to have. Unfortunately finding the right guide is much easier said than done, many guides can have ulterior motives and hidden agendas that conflict with yours. So although, having a guide may be ideal, finding the right guide requires a lot of research (read how to find an advisor). The scope of qualifications between the capabilities of one advisor compared to another can be like comparing a plastic butter knife with a stainless steel swiss-army knife. The cheap butter knife may handle a few simple needs, but most investors would be better served by someone with a breadth of tools that can assist you with a diverse set of circumstances.

The old cliché states men hate to get directions while women seek a security blanket (a plan). GPS is not full proof, as occasionally the software is not updated or gets confused. But tech geeks like me have grown to love the assistance and benefit from the heightened efficiency and safety it provides. Not only am I more confident, but it also gets me to where I want to go in less time.

Having your guide is important when it comes to investments, but having someone with expertise in tax planning (should I consider Roth conversion in 2010?); estate planning (what impact will the expected changes in the estate tax rate have on my future?); and insurance planning (do I have adequate life, health, and business insurance?) can be critical. All these areas can have a profound impact on whether you achieve your personal and financial goals.

Along the road of life, there can be many bumps, twists and turns. If you would like the assistance of a professional advisor, consider doing your homework and finding the appropriate GPS. Here is a checklist:

1)      Where are You Now? This means taking inventory of your assets and liabilities, getting a handle on your income and expenses, and having a firm understanding of your tax and family planning issues (will, trust, powers of attorneys, etc.)

2)      Where are You Going? Next you need to know where you want to go? You may have a rough idea, but in order to create a coherent plan, goals need to be defined.

3)      Create a Plan. Everyone’s map or blueprint will look different. Some will need highly detailed directions, while others due to different circumstances may have less complex needs or shorter distances to travel. Some may need guidance and directions to reach an adjacent state, while others may have more ambitious goals or planning needed to reach the peak of Mount Everest. Different destinations and circumstances will require different planning.

4)      Monitor and Adjust Plan as Necessary. Road conditions, weather, breakdowns, flight cancellations, among many other unforeseen circumstances can change the path to your goal. That’s why it’s so important to review, not only the changes in external circumstances, such as the financial markets, but also any individual changes whether it’s health, family, personal, or goal related.

Some people prefer to do things the old-fashion way or are happy with subpar technology (i.e., compass). However, if you do not want to get lost, or want a clearer defined map, then it’s time to shop for that new Global Portfolio Specialist who can help guide you to your destination.

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper. 

 

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) or its clients owns certain exchange traded funds, but currently has no direct position in GRMN. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

November 19, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment


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