One of the many advancements in medicine has been the use of genetic testing in determining the probability that an individual will develop a life- threatening illness or condition. Knowing that you or your children are not at risk of a major illness can be of great comfort while knowledge to the contrary can be of great value in preventative treatment and planning. There was a growing concern, however, that individuals would be very reluctant to undergo genetic testing if knowing the results could affect their ability to properly insure themselves or impact their opportunities for employment. As a result, a private member’s bill, Bill S-201, was introduced in the senate resulting in the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act being recently enacted into law.
What does the Act do?
It is now illegal for employers, insurance companies, or any other entity or individual to require anyone to undergo genetic testing or to disclose the results of a genetic test before entering into a contract which provides goods or services. Now, if you apply for life, disability or critical illness insurance living benefit coverage, you cannot be denied coverage due to the results of a genetic test. Insurance companies and their agents are also prohibited from “collecting, using or disclosing” the results of a genetic test without an individual’s written consent. Penalties for not complying with the new law are severe. Read more
The recent developments in investment markets and the volatile performance that has resulted have brought about a new appeal to an old workhorse. For investors looking for a diversification in their investment portfolio and a more tax efficient fixed income investment alternative, a compelling argument can be made for the use of Whole Life Insurance.
Why is Whole Life Insurance a good investment?
- The tax advantaged steady growth, combined with significant estate benefits are the primary reasons why Participating Whole Life is now being thought of as a new investment class.
- Unlike other accumulation policies such as most Universal Life policies, mutual funds and other equity investments, the cash and dividend value of a Whole Life policy cannot decrease as long as premium payments are made.
Many individuals have realized their charitable aspirations by donating a life insurance policy to the charity of their choice. In situations where that donation is a Universal Life policy, the use of a Shared Ownership strategy could prove to be a viable investment for the donor.
Shared Ownership refers to an arrangement involving cash value life insurance policies such as Universal Life. Universal Life combines life insurance with an investment fund which grows tax deferred until the cash value is withdrawn. If the cash value is paid out at death, the growth is tax free.
Under Shared Ownership, the life insurance and the cash value would have different owners and beneficiaries and would be structured as follows: Read more
If you are interested in creating a legacy at your death by making a charitable donation, you may wish to investigate using life insurance for that purpose. There are different ways you can structure life insurance for use in philanthropy. The most common are:
Getting an Existing Life Insurance Policy
If you currently own a life insurance policy, you can donate that policy to a charity. The charity will become owner and beneficiary of the policy and will issue a charitable receipt for the value of the policy at the time the transfer is made, which is usually the cash surrender value of the existing policy.
There are circumstances, however, where the fair market value may be in excess of cash surrender value. If, for example, the donor is uninsurable at the time of the transfer, or if the replacement cost of the policy would be in excess of the current premium, the value of the donation may be higher. Under these conditions, it is advisable for the donor to have a professional valuation of the policy, done by an actuary, prior to the donation. Read more