Ready? Everybody on their feet for a standing ovation for the IRS. For my entire professional life—50 years—I have been convinced that the guys who write IRS regulations have only two buttons: complex and more complex. Someone finally invented a simple button—hurrah!
The new proposed regulations, involving the distribution rules for all qualified plans and IRAs (collectively "PLANS"), are a delight. It's simple, and best of all, very beneficial, whether you are 70 1/2 years old (the age at which you must start taking distributions) or older, or are still accumulating funds in your PLANS. What you are about to read should change your financial and tax planning for the better.
The IRS has created a new, easy-to-use table that shows how to determine the required minimum dollar amount of your distribution each year (after you reach age 70 1/2). Here's an example from the table: Joe reached age 75 in 2001. He was taking distributions under the old rules. The balance in his IRA (an old rollover IRA) at the end of 2000 was $400,000. Joe's minimum distribution for 2001 is $18,349 (21.8 divided into $400,000). That's only 4.587 percent of his $400,000 account balance. So, if Joe's IRA earns more income than the distribution amount, his IRA balance will grow.
The rules determine the smallest amount that must be withdrawn each year. You can withdraw more (but not less). If your spouse is 10 years younger than you, you can lower the dollar amount to be distributed.
As of January 1, 2002, you must use the new rules. What should you do now with your PLANS? I must confess, we began to search for an answer even before the new regulations fell in our lap, because the uncertainty of the stock market (not to mention the market's devastating downturn) caused readers of this column to call for new ideas.
The following is a two-step plan that typically will multiply by 10 or more the dollars ultimately distributed by your PLANS.
Step 1: Invest all or a portion of your PLANS funds so that the PLANS are guaranteed an income with a larger percent return than the required minimum distribution percent. Is there such an investment? Yes! Insured Viatical Settlements (viaticals). Viaticals guarantee annual returns of 7 to 11 percent per year depending on the length of the investment. The minimum investment is $100,000; there is no maximum. Actuarial returns of 18 to 26 percent are available for larger investments ($5 million on more).
Diversify your portfolio. The older you are—particularly if you are age 70 1/2 or older—the more you should lean in the direction of a guaranteed investment return (like Viaticals) that exceeds the required minimum distribution percent.
Step 2: If you are insurable or need life insurance, you can reap a bonus. For example, it is easy to multiply $500,000 in PLANS to $5 million (or more), depending on your age and insurability.
The concept is simple: Use the guaranteed income to pay the insurance premium (ultimately, creating tax-free wealth at your death), yet your PLANS continue to grow in value. The new distribution rules assure you that the funds will be there to take care of your premiums and your retirement payments.
You owe it to yourself and your family to retain an experienced professional to help you explore how to bring insurance coverage (it can be second-to-die) and viaticals into your qualified plan and IRA life.
More information about retirement planning and our services is available. Send a fax to (847) 674-5299 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, age (and spouse's name and age, if married), value of each qualified plan (or IRA) and type of plan, and your phone numbers.