Annuities are financial products intended to enhance retirement security. An annuity is an agreement for one person or organization to pay another a series of payments. Usually the term “annuity” relates to a contract between an individual and a life insurance company.
There are many categories of annuities. They can be classified by:
An important decision in purchasing an annuity is deciding how you want to be paid. You can select annuity payouts for a set period of time or continue for your lifetime. With some options, a beneficiary can be designated to receive payments upon your death. You have several choices, outlined here.
If you cannot find your annuity policy, there is no need to panic.
For starters, most insurers issue quarterly or yearly statements. If you have not received one or need to reach the insurer immediately, contact the agent or financial planner who sold you the annuity. You may also want to review your canceled checks to see where you wrote the check.
You should review your annuity portfolio as often as you would your other investments.
Depending on the type of annuity, you should review it at least once a year. Of course, a major change in your family such as a serious illness, a new baby or even starting a business should trigger a call to your insurance agent or company representative to discuss changes in your financial planning. If you change your plans, find out whether this will cost you anything and if so, how much.
You can think of a lifetime annuity as investment vehicle that functions as a personal pension plan. Sometimes referred to as “single life,” “straight life,” or “non-refund,” these are a form of immediate annuity that provides income for your entire life. The payments can be increased to cover a second person. This is called a “Joint and Survivor” annuity. While most provide income for life, some may offer the option of payments for a fixed number of years.