FRAUD UPON THE COURT - Attorneys, Lawsuits and Annuities...

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:35 am   Post subject: FRAUD UPON THE COURT - Attorneys, Lawsuits and Annuities...  

Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP,

Public Law Group



50 California Street, Suite 2100

San Francisco, CA 94111



(415) 678-3800 phone

(415) 678-3838 fax







Says on their web site…..







Quote:
Lawsuits have been brought that allege insurance company and bank Defendants target elders and use scare tactics to pressure seniors into investing their life savings in annuities which make the seniors' savings inaccessible for 10-20 years (even in the case of emergencies), carry exorbitant surrender charges and severe tax penalties, and create complicated estate problems after death.”







Wow, can you believe those mean people at the bank and insurance office do that? I have been a Florida licensed insurance agent since August 1985 and have literally sold hundreds of annuity and life insurance policies and therefore believe I am an expert on the subject matter.







Once again I will say, your Honor, with all due respect, wake me up for closing arguments.







Okay, let's examine their ridiculous “allegations” and see if I can poke a few holes in their hyperbole. Let's start with this phrase, “insurance company and bank Defendants target elders.” Now that is TRUE, it's called "Target Marketing." Since annuities are designed for the senior market over the age of 70 it certainly is true these products target that market and thus most annuities are bought by senior citizens over the age of 70.







Very few people age 18 to 50 could invest in an annuity. Not because the products aren't financially sound for their needs, the minimum $10,000 initial premium usually stops them dead in their tracks. Some companies minimum investment in an annuity is as low as $5,000, a few are as high as $25,000 but the average is usually a minimum $10,000 premium investment to even get into one of these contracts. One more thing…..the contracts that pay the very highest interest and have the most premium bonus paid up front to the client usually have a minimum premium of $75,000. That's right, $75,000 dollars. Now that doesn't sound like a financial vehicle suitable for single moms, college students or married couples with small children who are in debt up to their eyeballs. Wouldn't you agree?







The next phrase states, “and use scare tactics to pressure seniors into investing their life savings in annuities.” Scare tactics? Hmmmmm, let's review some of these so-called scare tactics.







#1) Mrs. Client did you know money in an annuity contract is EXEMPT from legal process? No lawyer can EVER win a lawsuit judgment against you and attach the money in your annuity pursuant to Florida Statute 222.14, this includes all civil judgments and any bankruptcy proceedings. Did you know upon your death the proceeds are paid DIRECTLY to the persons you named as beneficiaries in the contract and those proceeds are equally protected from lawsuit judgments!







#2) Did you know that since these proceeds pass by way of contract they DO NOT go through the Probate Court System and therefore probate lawyers can't charge attorney fees on these funds upon death?







#3) Also, is there a logical financial reason you are still voluntarily paying Federal Income Tax on the interest earnings from your bank CDs when you're not even withdrawing the interest earnings for yourself? The same money in an annuity would grow tax deferred. This means you can stop paying taxes on your interest earnings. Money, i.e. “interest” earnings in your annuity will only be taxed to you on the amount you withdraw, if any, NOT on ALL of the interest whether you use it or not like in bank accounts.







Well there you have it. The three “scare tactics” used most often by Insurance Agents during an annuity presentation. To recap, annuities provide: #1) Lawsuit protection; #2) Probate avoidance; #3) Tax deferred earnings.







These legal eagles further state, “pressure seniors into investing their life savings in annuities which make the seniors' savings inaccessible for 10-20 years.”







Mr. Attorney SHOW ME the annuity contract that “make the seniors' savings inaccessible for 10-20 years.” That's right, SHOW ME. Produce the evidence. I want the company name and the contract form number and also the name of the state Department of Insurance that approved such a contract for sale to the public. It doesn't exist. I don't know of any annuity contract that doesn't have a 10% per year FREE withdrawal provision. Your absurd assertion is designed to convey a false notion that should an 80 year widow put $200,000 dollars into an annuity she could not, under any circumstances, touch ANY of her money for 10-20 years. That is an outrageous, factually false and asinine claim.







Then in parentheses they state, “(even in the case of emergencies)” Really? Let's discuss some emergencies and see when it would be advisable for the client to invade the principal of their annuity for an emergency.







Let's start with a medical emergency. Certainly the risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, accidents, broken hips and such is a reality for seniors and would be the single most expensive emergency that could materialize. Do you need to invade more than 10% of the principal of an annuity to pay for such risks? The answer is, No. People age 65 and older have Medicare to pay for medically necessary emergencies. Most all also have Medicare Supplement policies to pay for the gaps in Medicare or have Medicare HMOs that pay 100% of these costs.







But what if they are terminal and need hospice. Again, Medicare pays for hospice care. See THIS link. What about nursing home costs? Yes, that certainly could be an expensive thing. Interestingly, if a client develops a true monetary catastrophic need, such as nursing home costs, the first thing the attorneys do is set up a Qualified Income Trust funded with an Immediate ANNUITY to get the client approved by the Medicaid Institutional Care Program!







I could go on but I think you get the point. Unless the Mafia is after you for your unpaid gambling debts there aren't many, if any, real life emergencies that come up that would force a person to invade more than the annual 10% free withdrawal provision inherent in all annuities.







Also what these attorneys forgot to mention is the fact most all annuities sold have both a Terminal Illness Wavier of Withdrawal Charges and a Nursing Home Confinement Waiver of Withdrawal Charges. So their statement, "(even in the case of emergencies)" is an outright twisted material misrepresentation.







The next phrase states “carry exorbitant surrender charges.” There is no doubt about it; fixed annuities have Surrender Charges that usually last 5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years and decrease each and every year. However, fixed annuities ARE NOT designed for someone to put their money in and take it right back out. They ARE NOT designed to work like a Money Market account. They ARE NOT designed for clients to play games with their life savings or risk their principal in the stock market. Fixed Annuities are specifically designed for Seniors over the age of 70 as a Wealth Preservation, Income Protection and Wealth Transfer vehicle.







That being said let's examine these “exorbitant surrender charges” on a contract I sold to an 80 year old woman last year. (Feb 2006 to Feb 2007 contract year) The Surrender Charge Schedule is for 10 years, decreases every year, and reads 16%, 15%, 14%, 13%, 12% 11% 10%, 8% 6%, 4%. The policy paid a first year premium bonus of 6%.







$100,000 premium PLUS 6% bonus equals an Account Value of $106,000 at policy issue. The contract was a Fixed Indexed Annuity using the Monthly Point to Point Strategy tied to the monthly changes in the S&P 500 Index with a 2% per month cap. Her interest credits End of Year one (1) were 10.32%. Her Account Value at the End of Year one equaled $116,939. If for reasons unknown she's dissatisfied and wants out of the contract here's what happens.







Remember there is a contractual 10% FREE withdrawal provision so the company takes the initial premium of $100,000 and subtracts off the 10% free withdrawal amount of $10,000 subjecting $90,000 to the 2nd year surrender charge of 15% or $13,500. This amount is subtracted from the total Account Value. $116,939 Account Value minus $13,500 Surrender Charge equals a Cash Surrender Value of $103,439. My client would get back every penny she paid into the contract PLUS some growth. So in real dollars is that really “exorbitant,” draconian or unusually severe?







I agree a $13,500 interest earnings penalty would be a lot of money to pay to “get out” of the contract but let's not forget the Insurance Company is NOT going to pay you a 6% interest bonus at policy issue PLUS 10.32% first year interest for you to put your money in and take it right back out. Annuities are long term contracts designed for wealth preservation, income protection and wealth transfer. The Stock Market is the place to go if you want to wheel and deal with your money, NOT an annuity contract.







Okay, the next phrase is just a bloviating attorney being an ignoramus by stating annuities have “severe tax penalties.” This is not true. If the client takes her monthly interest earnings she'll pay income tax on those earnings just like any other interest bearing account. If the interest is left to grow in the annuity she will no longer have to pay current Federal Income Tax on those interest earnings and when she dies the beneficiary will have to pay taxes on the interest earnings growth only, NOT on the money that was the initial premium. This is hardly a severe tax penalty. In my example above if Mom died at the end of year one with an Account Value of $116,939 her beneficiary would have to pay income tax on the $16,939 interest earnings that was never taxed. In a 30% tax bracket the beneficiary pays $5,082 in additional income tax that year from the death benefit of $116,939 providing about $111,000 cash to the beneficiary free and clear. Remember the initial premium investment in the annuity was $100,000 and even after paying taxes the beneficiary still inherits over $111,000. This is what these attorneys are claiming to be “severe tax penalties.







Now let me ask a rhetorical question. Who should an Insurance Agent be more concerned with? The client and their financial circumstances or the client's beneficiary? Should we focus on eliminating the client's tax burden by shifting taxable interest income from bank CDs and Money Market accounts to tax deferred status in an annuity or should we have our client's go ahead and pay current income tax on their interest earnings so their beneficiary doesn't have to pay any tax on the interest earnings from the death claim? Also if there are multiple beneficiaries the tax is spread out by their representative share of the proceeds in their own individual tax bracket.







Okay, the last phrase is the most asinine, ignorant and absolutely factually FALSE statement yet. These attorneys lastly state annuities “create complicated estate problems after death.”







Here's exactly how complicated an annuity is after death. The beneficiary completes and signs a short one page claim form and submits the claim form along with the Death Certificate to the Insurance Company. Full account value payment in a lump sum is made within a few days. Yes, there are some contracts that have a restricted payout, usually over a five (5) year period. The other side of the story is..... those restricted payout contracts paid either an up front interest bonus to the client or higher first year interest to the client or higher guaranteed interest to the client.







Bank CDs, Money Market accounts, Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, Checking & Savings Accounts and owning multiple and out of state Real Estate properties in your own individual name upon death under a Last Will & Testament are what “create complicated estate problems after death,"... NOT an annuity.







A fully funded Revocable Trust coupled with a Fixed Annuity eliminates the vast majority of these complicated Estate problems upon death but you'll never learn that from the “Probate Practice” attorney who drafted your Last Will & Testament for $20.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:15 am   Post subject:   

Gary, just a quick question...My mom is starting to stress a little over all the news articles etc...that she is seeing in the papers (not unlike you have posted about)...anyway I've read and re-read all the paper work on her (two) annuities with New York Life...trying to find somewhere in it where it says this (atleast inital) investment is somehow insured or safe...can't find anything...now these are non-participating annuities..with 5.6 on one and 5.1% gauranteed interest for the first three years, then they can adjust the interest but no less than 3% over the entire period (I think if I remember they are seven years maybe)...anyway...is there anything you can tell me or where to look to put her a little more at ease...I'm not worried about pulling any money out, (although they clearly outline that you can)....just want to make her feel better, without (honestly) me having to talk with her investment banker for hours on end.. Rolling Eyes any info is much appreciated...thanks....



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:33 pm   Post subject:   

Lori,



Tell your Mom, Gary Spicuzza, SAFE said everything is Okay!



After all.... New York Life...."Is the company you keep."



Your Mom probably has Traditional FIXED annuities.

I don't believe New York Life has introduced an Indexed Annuity... yet.



Most of the articles written about annuities are written by *CCCs and they mix together the provisions of Traditional FIXED Annuities with Fixed Indexed Annuities with Variable Annuities with Immediate Annuities and then throw in the LIFE-ONLY settlement option and then write an article as if there is ONE monolithic annuity contract.



Rather than re-write what I've already written I'm going to link to "other" message boards where I have posted other Soap Box Rants on the FACTS about annuities and you can read/copy/paste/print those for your Mom.



Linky #1 Reporter's Guide To Fixed Annuities

Read the linked thread above then notice how the comments are just matter of fact BECAUSE the moderators there are actual financial professioals who know what they are talking about.



Linky #2 The Great Annuity Rip-Off

Read the linked thread there and you get comments from otherwise intelligent person's who can't find their assterisk with both hands when it comes to the subject of annuities. Nor can they point to a single fact I wrote that is factually incorrect regarding an annuity provision so they resort to personal attacks that I find hilarious!



I usually get "Banned" for posting annuity facts.



In America your not being nice to *CCCs if you confront them with their assinine hyberbole with actual contractual FACTS!



*CCC = Certified Clueless Clown Very Happy



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 10:30 am   Post subject:   

First THANKS! Gary, I really appreciate the info and the links I'll be checking them out here shortly..Although the interest isn't ''fixed'' after three years...it does call it's self a ''preferred fixed annuity''... I just know that it was pretty dag gum good rate, for the first three years!....Here is how I (who admitedly am no financial genius re:investments etc...let 'worlds greatest husband handle that!)...understand this thing....We plopped down 'x' amount of money (ALOT)...for three years we get 5.6% interest...after that it can flucuate, but cannot get below 3%...There is a surrender charge of 7% years 1 thru 4, 6% yrs 5 and 6, 4% year 7 and zero after that....Then in another area it says 10% surrender charge in the first seven years...I really don't understand that difference, but also not worried about it either...There is a life benefit...and there is also many ways to withdraw money if needed...also no surrender value under the life income thing a ma gig....All I was wondering is if there was something that showed this money was somehow insured or held in reserve etc.? You'll have to forgive my ignorance....the only experience I had (prior to this) had with annuitys was (I'm guessing) different...When I worked a lot of BI claims on minors many many times I settled them with annunitys...Course after figuring out what was best for the kid and their family, reaching an agreement, then that was it...I wrote it up and paid the premium and was done....



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:18 am   Post subject:   

Lori, money in a traditional FIXED annuity or a Fixed Indexed Annuity is back by the financial strength of the insurance company. For that reason one should only purchase an annuity from "A" rated class insurance companies.



There isn't a such thing as the FDIC for insurance companies.



Client's often asked this question and when they do I asked them their age, let's say 75. Then I ask in the last 75 years have you EVER read a news story or saw Walter or Dan or Katie on TV reporting how someone had money in a FIXED annuity and lost it because the company went out of business?



The answer is no, because it's never happened. If a Life Insurance Company goes out of business another company will come along and buy that block of business.



I also then remind the client it was the BANKS and STOCK MARKET who had the problem back in 1929 when the stock market crashed BECAUSE of BANKS making risky loans for persons to buy stock. Much like the housing/sub-prime loan issue of today, same thing.



It was NOT the life insurance companies who had the financial problem then or now. I'm not saying insurance companies have not went out of business, they have, but the industry buries its own dead.



Example, Kentucky Central went out of business, was bought by Jefferson-Pilot who is now Lincoln Financial.



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:46 am   Post subject:   

Thanks Gary....by the way...Dude, I read those threads...(and others) geeeeeeeeeeeze.....talk about eating your own... Rolling Eyes



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:47 pm   Post subject:   

Yeah Lori, I never figured there would be so much Certified Clueless Clown animosity towards an insurance product line known as annuities. Outside of a U.S. savings bond I can't think of a more boring or SAFE investment one could make with their money other than a FIXED annuity.



Traditional FIXED annuities and Fixed Indexed Annuities are BORING but SAFE.



Believe it or not I enjoy reading those anonymouse poster comments personally attacking me for providing facts on annuities.



Of course that's why they remain anonymouse persons so they don't have to be accountable for their own words.



While reading those other threads did you notice how they NEVER actually have anything substantive to say about actual annuity contract benefits and features. They only offer up perjorative blanket condemnations against an entire product line, and/or blanket condemnations against ALL life insurance agents of which THEY themselves are life insurance agents!



Well, NOT EXACTLY. They are the Series 7 registered representatives who HAD to get their Life and Annuity Insurance license to be able to sell the infamous BLOATED pig with lipstick known as a Variable Annuity.



The whole reason I use my real name when posting is just in case I have to call out somebody for posting absurd comments which are dumber than a box of rocks is so they know it was ME who is unequivocally calling them...



Stuck-On-Stupid.



It's an Internet sport of mine.



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:46 pm   Post subject:   

you crack me up gary! Laughing

Quote:
While reading those other threads did you notice how they NEVER actually have anything substantive to say about actual annuity contract benefits and features
Here's the part I never really got, (or they didn't get)...it's not ALL about making as much as possible (at any cost or risk) on your money to EVERYONE...That seemed to be a main theme with them...I'm a ga-zillion percent sure there are better ways to make greater returns...but some people (my mom and most that purchase these annuitys) are after a better return than they can get in a bank, BUT, and it's a huge BUT....They want little to no risk.......Are annuity's for everyone? Hells bells NO! But are they a great alternative for someone with a chunk of change, that wants a decent return, doesn't plan on pulling it out, and wants zero risk...YEP...IMO a great alternative for those folks....



Thanks again Gary, for the info and the threads were mighty entertaining!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:25 am   Post subject:   

Quote:
Are annuities for everyone? Hells bells NO! But are they a great alternative for someone with a chunk of change, that wants a decent return, doesn't plan on pulling it out, and wants zero risk.




E X A C T L Y.



A Traditional FIXED Annuity or a Fixed Indexed Annuity is a place to put your money...after...you've made your money.



Nobody is going to get rich investing in fixed annuities.



They are a SAFE money savings instrument.



These fundamental facts of life are incomprehensible to the day traders playing stocks like a flea market swap meet.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:37 am   Post subject:   

Quote:
A Traditional FIXED Annuity or a Fixed Indexed Annuity is a place to put your money...after...you've made your money.
There that's a great way of putting it and exactlly what I mean...however, your 'buddy's' don't seem to understand ANYONE at ANY age, not wanting to take ANY chances with their life's accumulation !


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 9:44 pm   Post subject:   

Hey Gary,



Great post. Just a bit passionate on this annuity issue, aren't you?



I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that you (or anyone you know) has ever sold a life policy or annuity incorrectly. That clealy places you in the 60% of all agents who are good, honest, loyal, trustworthy, thrifty, clean, brave, and reverent. What, my friend, you cannot control is the other 40% who will rip you and your mother off and not lose a minute of sleep.



Did you happen top see the Dateline show a while back that centered on EIAs? I was a technical advisor for that show and absolutely nothing went my way. First, the producers targeted Allianz, whom, by chance, I happen to like. Secondly, the line of questioning Chris Hansen used was not what I would have done at all. Since many of the agents I have investigated ultimately have their licenses permanently revoked, I guess they didn't want to listen to me. They claimed it might be "too hard for the non-insurance audience to follow."



I'm certainly not a fan of the way some annuities are sold and I'd guess you might feel similarly. Because agents sometimes feel the need to cut corners and not explain the true terms and conditions of the annuity products, guys like me will be kept very busy.



Oh, by the way. Since being sued for (I think around $640 million) back in the early 90s, New York Life has made some great changes and I happen to like the company.



Mark



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 11:22 am   Post subject:   

InsInvestigator wrote:

Quote:
Great post. Just a bit passionate on this annuity issue, aren't you?


No Mark, not really....



What I am passionate about is EXACTLY CORRECT INFORMATION.



There are certain annuity companies and products I would absolutely under no circumstances EVER sell their products.



There are other companies who I would sell my Mother the contract and be more than happy to be the beneficairy of that annuity contract.



That's the salesman rule of thumb that all insurance agents should apply to any product they sell to anyone.



#1) Would I sell this product to my Mother?



#2) Would I want to be the beneficiary on this product?



If an agent can answer yes to BOTH of those questions, then see how simple, clean and lucrative this business can be?



If an agent NEVER violates those two rules he/she will NEVER have any problems in the insurance business.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 5:52 pm   Post subject:   

Gary,

Great point. If more agents felt the way you do, I'd be unemployed.

Back in 1997, I worked on a Metlife case in which the agent churned and underfunded UL1 policy on his own mother.



When his license was revoked, the world became a better place.



Mark



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:17 am   Post subject:   

Embarassed Shamelessly bumping this topic to the top of the board for the sake of argument and NOT to be argumentive! Wink


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:50 pm   Post subject: tax deferred annuities  

Can you do the math on this, please?

Three fourths of my total value, after 30 yrs, is taxable if I surrender them. I'll have to pay on 85% of my So.Security, also. Would I have been better off in CD's paying the income tax each year, which would have put me in a lower bracket now. I'll be in the top bracket now. I'd appreciate your opinion if I surrender them. I hate to see the beneficiaries having to pay the high tax.


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