Tuesday, May 26, 2009
In today's Wall Street Journal: Keep Tabs on Insurance That Covers Estate Tax, by Arden Dale:
Using life insurance to cover the death tax is common practice, but the strategy is blowing up some estate plans now.
The policies are imploding because of low interest rates. An insurance plan issued years ago, when interest rates were higher, may no longer be earning the investment returns it needs to pay premiums as drafted. That shortfall leaves the owner on the hook for unexpected costs.
If the worst happens and a policy collapses, its demise can even result in a big tax bill.
Estate planners are noticing the problem. (It is hardly limited to their arena. A policy can lapse no matter what it is used for.) Some expect it to get worse. ...
Insurance consultant Bill Boersma, the founder and president of Opportunity Concepts in Grand Rapids, Mich., said he has worked with many troubled policies recently. He predicts a "tsunami" of lapses over the next few years.
Advice to those using life insurance in an estate plan: Have an attorney check on the health of the plan. And don't be surprised if that person turns the matter over to an independent insurance expert. Policies are complicated enough that an estate planner or attorney may not feel comfortable vetting them.