Even if President Donald Trump is proposing the elimination of the estate tax, reasons still remain for the rich and superrich to purchase life insurance. One of the leading authorities in the field of life insurance, Frank Seneco, president of Seneco & Associates, shares some of the reasons the exceptionally wealthy will continue to obtain life insurance:
Estate equalization. When the rich and superrich want to give equally to their children where illiquid assets are involved, such as businesses, life insurance is a viable way to provide financial fairness.
Paying for corporate benefits. Because life insurance has specific tax advantages, it has been and will continue to be a highly effective way for companies – including those owned by the extremely affluent – to pay for certain corporate benefits to owners and key employees.
Protecting business owners. Ultrawealthy business owners will continue to rely on life insurance for key person policies and funding buy/sell agreements.
Obtaining loans. For a percentage of the ultrawealthy, life insurance is part of the requirements for getting significant loans.
Privacy and asset protection. Life insurance, depending on the jurisdiction, is a legally sanctioned way to ensure the privacy of the monies in the policy as well as protect those funds from unjust or frivolous lawsuits.
Replacing assets donated to charity. Many philanthropically motivated wealthy individuals use life insurance going to their loved ones to replace the monetary value of their charitable gifts.
The rich and superrich will continue to purchase life insurance for other reasons. However, without an estate tax all indications are that they will unwind or restructure the life insurance they currently have to pay the tax and will NOT be purchasing life insurance for this purpose. “We are already seeing strong interest among segments of the ultrawealthy population to convert traditional life insurance policies into private placement life insurance policies,” says Peter Sasaki, managing member of CGS Financial Solutions, a leading private placement life insurance administrative platform. “For many of them this transition is a very good option, and each case needs to be examined on its own merits.”
It is also likely that – in a dynamically changing financial services environment – tax and life insurance specialists will devise new ways for the rich and superrich to benefit from life insurance. Still, in a future without an estate tax, the rich and superrich will be purchasing meaningfully less life insurance.