Interested in Fixed Annuities? Beware of Common Misconceptions

Submitted by Edward JonesPrint Story | Email Story

Between your 401(k) or pension, your IRA and Social Security, you hope to have enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Yet, you may want, or need, to find other financial resources – one of which might be a fixed annuity, which offers a guaranteed interest rate and can be structured to provide a lifetime income stream.

But you may be nervous about investing in annuities because of some negative things you have heard about them. How concerned should you be?

To help answer that question, let's consider some common misconceptions about fixed annuities:

* "I won't be able to touch any of my money if I need some of it before I retire."
A fixed annuity is designed to provide you with income during your retirement years. But if you want to withdraw a significant amount of your money before you retire – when your annuity is in what's called the "accumulation phase" – you will likely face a surrender charge, as well as a 10 percent federal tax penalty. Withdrawals may also be subject to a market value adjustment. However, to access a small percentage of your allocated funds, you might not encounter any fees. And some annuity contracts allow a 10 percent withdrawal with no penalty.

"Annuities cost too much." Many annuities are actually low in cost. Be sure to compare the cost against the value of each additional guarantee, feature and benefit — and only pay for what you need.


"A deferred annuity isn't worth the wait." If you set up a deferred annuity, it's true that you won't immediately start receiving income. You will, however, be able to factor future expected payments into your retirement plan.

"When I die, the insurance company keeps my money." If your payout plan includes a beneficiary agreement, your beneficiaries will receive the remaining amount of money in the contract. Read the terms and conditions listed with an annuity, as they will spell out where the remaining money will go after you pass away.

Of course, even if the above concerns are simply misconceptions, it doesn't mean there are no issues about which you must be aware when considering fixed annuities. For one thing, the safety of your lifetime income stream and guarantees will depend on the claims-paying ability of the insurer that issued the annuity, so you will want to choose a company that has demonstrated financial strength and stability.

One other concern about fixed annuities: They typically don’t carry a cost of living adjustment, such as that found in Social Security. You can find annuities that do offer some inflation protection, but this feature can reduce early payments significantly.

If it's appropriate for your situation, a fixed annuity can be a valuable addition to your retirement income. Before purchasing one, though, you will need to weigh all the potential benefits and issues. But don't be swayed by misconceptions – you will want to base your decision on facts, rather than fears.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor. Courtesy of Rob Adams, 71 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247, 413-664-9253.. Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation. For more information, see EdwardJones.com.

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North Adams Council OKs July Spending, Debates City Hall Job

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday during a special meeting approved a nearly $4 million budget for July that includes $1.5 million for the School Department. 
 
The $3,831,954 continuing appropriation is the first as the city shifts to a month-by-month financial plan until the Legislature can pass a fiscal 2021 budget. 
 
The appropriation was adopted 7-2, with Councilors Marie T. Harpin and Robert Moulton Jr. voting against after a debate over a City Hall employee. 
 
The Finance Committee last week voted to recommend a so-called 1/12th budget based on information from the state Division of Local Services, which advised municipalities that they can could count on level funding for education and unrestricted government aid for at least July and August. This monthly budget can be done for up to three months. 
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