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SafeMoney.com Blog

questions to ask about an annuity

Millions of Americans depend on annuities for retirement and for tax-advantaged accumulation. But if you are considering one, you might be unsure about which questions to ask about an annuity. Beyond that, you also want to be able to judge whether a specific annuity product is right for you.

Essentially, an annuity is a contract between you and a life insurance company. The contract provides tax-deferred growth for your money and different choices for your payout options: a lump-sum payment, income for life, or income for a set period.

Most annuities are started with money from retirement accounts -- 401(k) plans, IRAs, or Roth accounts. But you can also purchase an annuity with personal savings or proceeds from a transaction like a home sale. The money you use to begin your annuity contract will have its own tax implications, so keep that in mind as you consider your options.

Determining what annuity is right for you is up there with other important retirement decisions. After all, these are your life savings.

You want to be sure that you bought the right annuity contract -- if indeed it does make sense for you -- and that its unique features and benefits solve for the existing gaps in your portfolio.

Here are some questions to ask about annuity options that can help you narrow down your choices to the right fit.

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common retirement planning mistakes avoid

Many Americans worry about whether they have saved enough to have a comfortable retirement. But, surprisingly, most haven't actually crunched the numbers to estimate how much money they will need in retirement in order to live comfortably.

According to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, just 42% of Americans have attempted to calculate how much money they might need for retirement. In other words, almost 60% haven't estimated how income they might require.

A Gap Between Retirement Confidence and Readiness?

In the survey, just 3 in 10 people said they have tried to estimate how much they might pay in healthcare expenses during retirement. These are sobering findings, considering that many people report they are confident in knowing how much money they need to live comfortably in retirement.

Six in 10 (67%) said they were "somewhat confident" about their understanding of their income needs. As for higher levels of assurance, two in 10 (23%) said they were "very confident."

However, as the Employee Benefit Research Institute's other findings show, the vast majority of retirement savers haven't actually calculated how much money they might actually need. This could set retirement savers up for a future of unnecessary stress – and even reduced lifestyles.

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