This is an insurance policy which in exchange for a sum of money, makes a series of payments. These payments may be either level or increasing periodic payments for a fixed term of years or until the ending of a life or two lives, or even whichever is longer.
Fixed Annuity—Earnings accumulate at a rate of interest guaranteed for a specific period of time, depending on the contract’s terms. When that period ends, a new rate may take effect—or the old rate may be offered again. The new interest rate never will be less than the guaranteed minimum rate defined in the contract.
Indexed Annuity—Earnings accumulate at a rate based on a formula linked in part to a published equity based index, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Composite Stock Price Index™ (S&P 500).
When an annuity owner decides to receive income from an annuity, a number of options are available:
Life income—Income is received as long as the annuity owner lives, even if payments exceed the amount of money put into the annuity. When an annuity owner dies, no further payments are made to anyone.
Joint and survivor life income—Income is received for as long as the annuity owner or joint annuitant lives.
Life income with refund—Income is received for life and, if the annuity owner dies before receiving the amount of money contributed, the beneficiary collects the portion not yet received.
Life income with period certain—Income is received by the annuity owner for as long as he or she lives with the guarantee that, if the annuity owner dies within a certain period—usually 10 or 20 years—after income payments begin, a beneficiary will receive regular payments for the rest of that period.
Other income options are available, such as receiving income in a series of payments for a specified number of years, or with a deferred annuity, in a lump sum. However, neither of these options has a lifetime guarantee.
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