Q: My wife and I are 66 and we’re in good health. Does it make sense to take out term life insurance carrying an annual premium of $6,000 to cover the tax on our substantial registered investments when we die?—Jim Semple, Regina
A: Insurance is a crucial part of a financial plan. While it can be a tool in estate planning, its best use in my opinion is to protect your family from an unexpected calamity. The latter doesn’t seem to apply to you because your investments are substantial. Besides, upon the death of either you or your wife your RRIF assets will roll over without tax to the other. As an estate planning strategy it may be an expensive way to shield your beneficiaries from tax.
Matthew Ardrey, a financial planner with fee-based firm T.E. Wealth, suggests comparing the “return” on the insurance policy with what you’d be able to save in a TFSA. “If they both live until age 90, that will be 25 years of premiums or $150,000. If they took that same $6,000 per year and saved it in a TFSA with a rate of return of 5%, they would have about $300,000 at age 90 payable to the other beneficiaries without tax.” Does the death benefit on the policy exceed the return on the TFSA? If it’s $400,000, then yes. But if it is $200,000, then no.
Bruce Sellery is a frequent guest on financial television shows and author of Moolala. Do you have your own personal question? Write to Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org