Responding to online advertising and generic value calculators can mislead client expectations. Many things in life rarely come about; when this happens, the average person doesn’t have the knowledge to make a good decision. This can be true for financial professionals and consumers alike.
Understanding life settlements is one of those things. Where do advisors and consumers go to find the answers to questions about life settlements? If you Google life settlements, you will come up with 152,000,000 results. Even if you zoom past all the paid ads, you are still left with an abundance of contradictory opinions and information. Consumers are particularly vulnerable when they respond to direct-to-consumer TV commercials and social media ads about life settlements.
If you’re an advisor, who would you listen to, and how would you know if you can trust them to serve the best interests of your clients? Most of these ads come from life settlement lead generation companies and life settlement providers that represent the best interests of buyers wishing to purchase existing life insurance policies at a highly discounted price. It’s a good deal for the buyer but a bad deal for your clients. Furthermore, it’s almost impossible to use Google to determine whether you’re working with a licensed life settlement provider representing the buyer’s best interests or a licensed life settlement broker with a fiduciary duty to represent the best interests of the policy owner selling the policy.
This is precisely why attorneys, CPAs, CFPs, RIAs, and client-centric life insurance professionals do not rely on Google, social media, or television ads to determine who they should trust to help their clients. They use a more comprehensive due diligence process to protect themselves and their clients.
The strategy behind life settlement calculators
Most online life settlement platforms connect policyholders directly or indirectly with licensed providers that represent the best interests of buyers. They aim to lead your client to provide information by completing their life settlement calculator, then give them an arbitrary value and engage them in conversation. This is a problem for your client because the value indicated is, at its best, only a guess. The minimal output from a calculator is rarely accurate, and the potential offer is changed after additional medical, financial, and policy information is obtained. This misleads your client and forces them to lower their expectations. Often a highly discounted offer will be presented to your client based solely on the information provided on the calculator, and the deal can be closed quickly. Too quickly!
Moving too fast in life settlements can come with some inherent risk for you and your clients. If your client is involved in a life settlement process emphasizing speed, you might suggest they tap the brakes and determine if they are sitting on the wrong side of the negotiation table.
Bottom line: Complex transactions that require sophisticated underwriting and a negotiation process take time. There are only two licensed entities that sit at the negotiation table. Life Settlement Brokers represent your client’s best interests, and Life Settlement Providers represent the buyer’s best interests. Fast life settlements are risky. Slow down on the front end to verify that your client is represented by a nationally licensed life settlement brokerage firm experienced in case design and conducts a transparent policy auction between multiple providers to drive more value to your client. They will be glad you did!
Ashar Group is a nationally licensed life settlement firm that acts as a fiduciary to protect the best interests of policy owners by creating a competitive policy auction to deliver the best value to the seller. Ashar Group does not sell life insurance, management assets, or purchase policies. We are an independent resource for fiduciary advisors and their clients specializing in life insurance valuation for planning purposes. Contact us today.
Ashar Group has created a special checklist for tax season that helps you conduct a new and timely discussion that strengthens your current relationships and opens the door to new ones.
Most tax practitioners are unaware that existing life insurance policies can provide a value significantly higher than the cash surrender value offered by the issuing insurance carrier.
What happens to all those policies that were put in place to protect families and businesses? They are lapsed or surrendered. Most of those policies are dropped by senior clients in financial transition. The reasons are many. Their policy may no longer be needed for estate tax planning, they are outliving their coverage, the policy is too expensive to maintain, a business owner is retiring, or they are going through bankruptcy proceedings or divorce proceedings. Often, they simply want to apply any cash they can obtain from the policy and use that cash - and the ongoing premiums they have been paying - to other aspects of their financial plan. They may need extra cash for medical or caregiving expenses, donate money to charity, or simply maintain their standard of living during retirement. Furthermore, many tax advisors and consumers are unaware of the additional value that can be obtained through a life settlement.
What can tax professionals and financial advisors do to help?
It’s simple, all you must do is be in the right place at the right time before your client decides to lapse or surrender an existing life insurance policy. That’s where our Tax Planning Checklist for Existing Life Insurance comes in. Tax season is the perfect time to reach out to your clients and tax professionals and ask them the questions on the tax planning checklist. This creates awareness about options that are available that could have a significant impact on decisions that they make when considering dropping their existing life insurance coverage.
We’ll be at Finseca in D.C.
Please stop by the Ashar Group booth #201 to get access to the Tax Season Checklist and options to co-brand this checklist.
Excerpt from an article in NAEPC Journal of Estate & Tax Planning by Jamie L. Mendelsohn, EVP
Life insurance can be the largest unmanaged asset a client owns, and it is rarely appraised or valued. Policy owners allocate significant liquidity on an ongoing basis, often long after transitioning out of the original need that the policy was put in place to protect. Even after a traditional policy review and exploring historical non-forfeiture options such as a surrender, reducing the death benefit, or 1035 exchange, the client is left feeling as if they are not in an optimal position. Creating awareness and educating policy owners that the life settlement market exists can result in many planning opportunities, as well as mitigating risk and liability for the advisory teams.
Many policy owners have paid into policies for decades and want more than the intrinsic value of ownership when considering exiting it. The opportunity to take advantage of a secondary market, to capitalize on the numerous institutional buyers competing in an auction to deliver more value than other exit strategies, is an important option to discuss with policy owners. Getting clients in the habit of valuing their life insurance, similar to how they appraise other assets, could create additional cash flow for other planning needs.
By: Bill Clark
Moving too fast in life settlements can come with some inherent risk for you and your clients. If your client is involved in a life settlement process that emphasizes speed, then you might suggest that they tap the brakes and determine if they are sitting on the wrong side of the negotiation table. No one likes to be hard closed.
I’m a big fan of the Fast and Furious movies and was saddened by the unexpected passing of Paul Walker in a fatal car accident in Los Angeles. On the home front, we all hold our breath as our teenagers start driving and hope and pray they never become the victim of a car crash. There’s a reason why car insurance companies charge more for inexperienced teenage drivers. Thankfully most of them reach adulthood unscathed.
Emphasizing Speed Over Outcome in Life Settlements is Risky Behavior
Most of our children do not end up flying fighter jets and exhibiting high-risk behavior like Tom Cruise in the Top Gun movies that had the famous line, “I feel the need for speed”. (By the way, Top Gun – Maverick which came out in June of 2022, is a must-see.) When a client is selling their life insurance policy, speed could mean there aren't competing buyers bidding on the policy. If your client fills out a life settlement questionnaire online and receives a quick offer, there could be cause for concern.
Successful life settlements that protect your client’s best interests require a degree of sophistication and information gathering that does not happen overnight. A fast offer is made with minimal underwriting information and is intended to quickly entice your client into settling for an amount that is less than what would be created by forcing competition among buyers. While the offer will be higher than the cash surrender value (CSV), it will be a far lower offer when compared to a fair market value (FMV) offer that is achieved through a life insurance policy auction between buyers. Those fast offers aren’t formal offers and can decrease once all the medical and policy information is reviewed. This could leave your client frustrated and confused. Some financial advisors even get caught up in these fast offers and unknowingly advise their clients to accept the offer without understanding how life settlements really work.
When Providers (Buyers) Compete, You and Your Client Win
There are two sides to any financial negotiation table: the buy-side and the sell-side. In the life settlement market, there are buy-side representatives (licensed providers) who may have one or more buyers they represent. Their goal is to get the best rate of return (lowest offer to your client) for the buyers they represent. They may tell you that they submit to multiple buyers, but they only use the buyers that they represent as a provider. This eliminates higher offers that could have been derived from forcing competition between multiple licensed providers.
A direct buyer/provider offer may be fast, but it is absent of competition and can leave some of your client’s money on the table. It also opens the door to liability for the advisor if stakeholders, such as beneficiaries, ask later if you shared the policy with multiple buyers/providers to create competition or if only one provider/buyer made the offer. A provider will gladly help your client sell their policy directly to the buyer, but they can’t serve two masters. They have a fiduciary duty to the buyer they represent, not your client.
Bottom line: Complex transactions that require sophisticated underwriting and a negotiation process, take time. There are only two licensed entities that sit at the negotiation table. Life Settlement Brokers represent your client’s best interests, Life Settlement Providers represent the buyer’s best interests. Fast life settlements are risky. Slow down on the front end to verify that your client is represented by a nationally licensed life settlement brokerage firm that is experienced in case design and conducts a transparent policy auction between multiple providers, to drive more value to your client. They will be glad you did!
Unless you’re a finance geek—like all of us here at Ashar—there’s not a whole lot about managing one’s finances that could really be called “fun.” Monitoring investments, keeping track of bills and taxes…for most people, that’s more obligation than choice. (more…)
This post is part of our series for advisors to pass to their clients. Knowing more about your clients’ needs will help you to better serve them. Aging doesn’t have to be scary, and we here at Ashar want to help you provide the resources that policy sellers need to flourish in this chapter of their life.
At Ashar, we may be in the life settlement business, but that doesn’t mean that we think everyone should sell their life insurance. In fact, that’s about as far from the truth as you can get.
Life settlements can be wonderful financial solutions for many people, but only under a set of very specific circumstances. For people looking for financial relief from unaffordable premiums, or those who no longer need their policies because of changes in estate tax law or the death of a spouse, a life settlement can be a great way to generate a new stream of income. The same is true for individuals facing the costs of long term care, or expensive medical procedures for an illness.
If you fit into one of these categories, maybe it’s time to ask your financial advisor to contact us at Ashar, to start discussion your options. But if you don’t, then chances are you should keep your life insurance, if it’s at all possible.
If you caught our “Filling the Bookcase” article from back in June, you know that we at the Ashar Group love a good book — especially if it helps us continue to get better at what we do.
With summer on its way out, we thought it was time to offer up a few more book recommendations to see you through the fall. Below, you’ll find books to help you reason more clearly, raise fiscally responsible kids, and develop your leadership skills. (more…)
This post is part of our series for advisors to pass to their clients. Aging doesn’t have to be scary, and we here at Ashar want to help you provide the resources that policy sellers need to flourish in this chapter of their life.
We all want to know that when our time comes, our family and loved ones will be provided for. After all, that’s the point of buying life insurance: so that when we pass away, our dependents will have some money to fall back on, to help cover any expenses or taxes and maintain their standard of living. (more…)
We know that as a financial advisor, you want the best for your clients. And when it comes to older clients, advisors can feel especially protective.
After all, you’re managing not just their money, but possibly the legacy they’ll leave their family, or their ability to cover long-term care or assisted living for themselves or a spouse. There’s no question that that’s a lot of responsibility. (more…)
This post is part of our series for advisors to pass to their clients to help them understand life settlements. Aging doesn’t have to be scary, and we here at Ashar want to help you provide the resources that policy sellers need to flourish in this chapter of their life.
Aging has plenty of benefits: intelligence, wisdom, and experience are all extremely valuable in the workforce, community, and in social relationships. Older people also have the benefit of self-awareness. Maya Angelou once said, “At 50 I began to know who I was. It was like waking up to myself." Yet somehow, age is taboo in our society. According to a 2012 survey, people now believe that old age starts at 59; however, the majority of seniors say they don’t “feel” old. (more…)