insurance

Life Insurance: FAQs

Scarsdale accountant Paul Herman has all the answers to your personal finance questions! The following are frequently asked questions our Westchester CPA firm receives regarding life insurance. Get to know these important facts, as well as our previous life insurance discussion, to make sure you choose the best possible life insurance for you!

▼ How are people classified for rate purposes?

To ensure that you receive the best rate possible it is useful to understand how these premiums are calculated by insurers. Firstly insurers will place people into four main categories:

  • Preferred
  • Standard
  • Substandard
  • Uninsurable

Someone who has a semi-serious illness such as diabetes or heart disease can be insured but will pay a higher premium. People with a chronic illness will be placed in the substandard category. Someone with a terminal illness will be rendered uninsurable.

People with high risk jobs or hobbies will be considered substandard as well.

The premiums that you are charged will correlate with the category that you are placed in.

Life Insurance FAQs from Scarsdale CPA

Life insurance can be a real life-saver for your dependents!

Since the categorizing is not an exact science, one company may place you in a different category than another, thus drastically changing the prices of your premiums.

Once you are approved for coverage from a company, they cannot deny you coverage for any reason unless you cease payment.

 What should I be on the lookout for when I am purchasing life insurance?

First of all, beware that many insurance salespeople work on a commission basis, and may want to persuade you to purchase the policy that brings them the largest commission, rather than getting you the policy that makes the most sense for you.

Most of all, be sure that the company you are buying from will be in existence when you need them. Make sure that you check the insurer’s rating before you consider doing business with them.

Always review the costs of any recommended policy. The commissions will be stated, and you can see exactly where the money that you contribute will go.

Ask the insurance agent to explain the different policies and why the one you agree on is the best for you considering your circumstances.

▼ How can I easily compare prices between insurance companies?

In most states there will be a set of rules laid down by a group of insurance regulators. Agents may be required to calculate two different types of indexes to aid in price shopping.

  • Net payment index
  • Surrender cost index

The net payment index calculates the cost of carrying the policy for ten to twenty years. This can be judged easily by remembering that the lower this number is, the more inexpensive the policy is. This is most helpful if you are more concerned with the death payout than the investment.

On the other hand, the surrender cost index is more useful to those who are concerned with the cash value of the investment. The lower this number is, the better.

The cash surrender value is what you will receive in return if you were to surrender the policy, which is different than the cash accumulation value. If you are checking the prices of universal life policies, if the policies have different premiums and death benefits, the policy with the higher cash surrender value would be the better investment.

▼ Why should I have life insurance? Do I really need it?

The main reason that people purchase life insurance is to know that in the event of their passing, their children and loved ones will be taken care of. Life insurance can also help with the distribution of your estate. Your payout could go to family, charity, or wherever you choose to distribute it.

The main reasons to buy life insurance would be because you have dependents that would be put in a tough position without you providing for them. For example, if you have a spouse, a child, or a parent who is dependent on your income, you should have life insurance.

If you have a spouse and young children, you will need more insurance than someone with older children, because they will be dependents for a longer amount of time than older children. If you are in a position where you and your spouse both earn for the family, then you should both be insured in proportion to the incomes that you garner.

If you have a spouse and older children or no children, you will still want to have life insurance, but you won’t need the same level of insurance as in the first example, just enough to ensure that your spouse will be provided for, to cover your burial expenses, and to settle the debts that you have accumulated.

If you don’t have children or a spouse, you will only need enough insurance to make sure that your burial expenses are covered, unless you would like to have an insurance policy in order to help in the distribution of your estate.

 What amount of life insurance should I have?

In order to figure out how much insurance you need, you will need to explore your current household expenses, debts, assets, and streams of income. If you need assistance in this, consult either your accountant or financial advisor.

The amount of money that you want to leave behind for your dependents should allow them to use some of the money to maintain their current standard of living, then reinvest another lump sum to ensure that they will be well off in the future.

When attempting to calculate the amount of money that you need to leave behind, be extremely meticulous. If you err low, your family may not receive the help that they need from the insurance company, and if you err the other way, you will be spending more than necessary in insurance premiums.

Our Scarsdale tax preparers here at Herman & Company CPA’s are here for all your financial needs. Please contact us for all inquiries and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Bedford Hills NY, Bronxville NY, Harrison NY, Mt. Kisco NY, Larchmont NY, Scarsdale NY, Rye Brook NY, Stamford CT and beyond.

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Which Type of Life Insurance Fits Me Best?

Scarsdale CPA Paul Herman has all the answers to your personal finance questions! As we pass lifetime milestones such as getting married, having children and starting a business, the need for life insurance grows increasingly important. However, choosing a specific type of life insurance can be a tricky process. Discover which type of life insurance is the best match for you:

There are 7 major types of life insurance:

  • Term
  • Renewable
  • Re-entry
  • Level
  • Decreasing
  • Cash Value
  • Whole Life
  • Universal Life
  • Variable Universal
  • Variable Whole Life
▼ Term

Term insurance is best described as a policy for which you pay over a specific amount of time. In the event that you die within that period of time, your beneficiaries will receive a payoff.

Types of Life Insurance from Scarsdale Tax Preparers

Get to know the different types of life insurance available to determine the best match for you.

People that are under the age of 40 will find this package less costly than a whole life policy. These policies generally do not build in cash value. However, they can convert over to a whole life policy without a mandatory physical.

▼ Renewable

The policy which is bought most frequently is the Renewable Term Policy. This policy renews every year without you having to do anything, and there is no need to input any new information or take physicals. This can continue every year until you are in your 70s. The policy will increase incrementally every year, along with your age.

▼ Re-entry

With this life insurance policy, you will have to periodically take physicals for the company to judge your rate of risk. If you don’t, you will be subject to paying an extra premium.

▼ Level

In the Level Term policies, you will be locked into a given rate of premium and you will stay there during a certain period (although not necessarily during the entire period of coverage).

▼ Decreasing

A Decreasing policy is one which decreases in face value with time while the premium remains the same.

▼ Whole Life

Whole Life is the most traditional policy given; this has a cash-value build up, sometimes offers dividends, and provides death benefits. This is not a policy that needs to be renewed constantly, as long as the payments are made, the policy will continue until death.

▼ Universal Life

This policy is similar to the whole life policy. However, it offers more flexibility in many ways; you will have different options in cash value growth and the payment of premiums.

 Variable Universal

Variable Universal policies will give you the option to choose the investments for your cash value. This is more risky, but simultaneously gives you more control over where this money is invested.

 Variable Whole Life

This is the same as the previous in regards to control over the investments that are made. The difference between these two is the same as the difference between Whole Life and Variable.

Our Scarsdale tax preparers here at Herman & Company CPA’s are here for all your financial needs. Please contact us for all inquiries and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Armonk NY, Bedford NY, Harrison NY, Scarsdale NY, Bronxville NY, Mamaroneck NY, Greenwich CT and beyond.

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Getting Divorced: FAQs Part 2

Scarsdale CPA Paul Herman has all the answers to your personal finance questions! Continuing our “Getting Divorced: FAQs Part 1” discussion, the following are more frequently asked questions and answers regarding divorce and your finances.:
▼ During a divorce, what are the legal issues that must be handled?

Make an agreement with your spouse to plan for the legal issues that will be dealt with in the future, such as division of property, alimony or support payments and child custody. Divorce FAQS from Scarsdale Accountant

 

The amount of time and money that will be spent trying to reach a legal solution will be lessened dramatically if this can be done, either with the help of lawyers or court. The following are general tips to face the legal aspects of divorce:

  • If there are important issues with regards to child custody, alimony or assets, find your own attorney.
  • Use referrals from other professionals, trusted friends or the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers to find a good matrimonial lawyer.
  • Verify that the agreement of divorce approaches all topics such as insurance coverage, life health and auto.
  • On IRA accounts, life insurance policies, pension plans, 401(k) plans, and other retirement accounts make sure to modify the beneficiaries.
  • Update your will.
▼ How does the division of property in a divorce work?

Each state has their own laws regarding the division of property between ex-spouses. When it comes to applying those laws, matrimonial judges have a great amount of flexibility.

Whether or not an attorney represents you, you should make sure to have done the following:

  • Learn how the laws of your state function with respect to property division.
  • Make sure to have the papers to confirm that property owned separately during the marriage has been kept separate.
  • Be prepared to report any non-financial contributions to the marriage that you have made – such as any non-financial contributions to his/her financial success or spousal support while he/she went to school.
  • Be willing to report any need for alimony or child support.

Consider having the divorce agreement supply you with funds if you have not worked outside of the home during the marriage.

▼ With a divorce, what are the tax implications?

Upon completion of a divorce, individual tax returns will be filed. There are a few areas that may result in tax consequences. The following are the most common:

  • Child Support
    It is not taxable to the recipient and is not deductible by the payer. If it is specially designated as child support in a divorce agreement or lessened by the occurrence of a contingency relative to the child, meaning a child reaches a specified age, it is considered as a payment.
  • Alimony
    It is taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payers. It is known as a payment in accordance with a divorce agreement other than child support or when allocated in the decree as something other than alimony. In a separation agreement, similar treatment is in accordance with separate maintenance payments. Payments may not end upon death of the recipient and may not be front-loaded.
  • Property Settlements
    When in accordance with the divorce or separation, they are not taxable. In the event of transfers of assets amongst spouses, they do not become taxable income, gains, loses, or deductions. The recipient spouse gets the cost basis of the property. Your spouse may provide you with an equal share of the property based on a fair market value, but be careful with the lower basis. In the end, it can produce a taxable gain at the asset’s sale.
 When retirement plans or IRAs are divided in a divorce, what happens?

If in accordance with the qualified domestic relations order or other order of the court in the case of an IRA, these plans are separated as non-taxable. However, this is the case only if the assets stay in the retirement account or IRA. Once the funds are allocated, they will be taxed to the recipient. The payer does not get the benefit of a deduction and the recipient does not have taxable income when divided.

 Is the cost of getting a divorce a deduction?

Typically no, although specific fees paid for income or estate tax advice due to the divorce may be deductible. The fees used to decide the alimony amount or to collect the alimony may be deducted. These would be subject to the 2% limitation under the miscellaneous item deductions.

▼ Am I entitled to deduct the dependency exemption of a child after divorce?

Typically, the custodial parent has the right to the deduction. This is normally discussed in divorce agreement negotiations. If agreed to in writing, the non-custodial parent may have the deduction.

Scarsdale accountant Paul Herman is here to help you with all your personal finance needs. Please contact us for all inquiries and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Armonk NY, Bedford Hills NY, Harrison NY, Katonah NY, Scarsdale NY, Purchase NY, Rye NY, Greenwich CT and beyond.

Any U.S. tax advice contained in the body of this website is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by the recipient for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions.