Lincoln Hall Stairway, © Larry Kanfer
“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of an intelligent effort.” ~ John Ruskin
We believe The Downey Group is uniquely qualified to serve your needs.
We take pride in the scope of our available services, and in the value we deliver to our clients. We specialize in all aspects of wealth transfer, business succession, executive compensation, asset protection, and charitable gift planning. We offer cutting edge life insurance products specifically tailored to our clients’ needs, and responsive, high quality life insurance policy service.
Life insurance has many unique characteristics that may make it an appropriate solution for a variety of challenges, beyond those that arise at the death of the insured(s). In addition to death benefit protection, life insurance offers:
- Tax-deferred accumulation of policy cash values.
- Creditor protection (in some states).
- Tax-advantaged access to policy cash values. Please keep in mind loans and partial withdrawals may decrease the death benefit and cash value and may be subject to policy limitations and income tax. Product guarantees including the death benefit are subject to the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.
The flexible nature of many modern life insurance policies provides a powerful means to address a wide range of personal, business, and charitable situations.
- Family Protection: Provides a source of cash for surviving family members to utilize for living expenses.
- College Funding: Provides a funding source for college education of children or grandchildren.
- Debt Protection: Generates cash to pay off an existing mortgage or other personal debt.
- Wealth Creation: Provides funds to leave as an inheritance or to equalize inheritances among family members.
- Estate Tax Liquidity: Creates liquidity to pay estate taxes rather than requiring liquidation of existing estate assets.
- Gifting Leverage: Leverages the use of the annual gift tax exclusion, the lifetime exemption, and/or Generation Skipping Transfer Tax exemption.
- Key Employee: Provides funds to aid in the search for a replacement in the event of a key employee’s death.
- Executive Recruitment and Retention: Used in a variety of nonqualified benefit programs to help attract and retain key employees.
- Business Continuation: Provides funds to aid in the continuation of business in the event of an owner’s death or disability.
- Succession Planning: Provides liquidity to purchase the ownership interest of a deceased owner.
- Debt Protection: Creates a pool of money that can be used to pay off borrowed money.
- Wealth Replacement: Used with many charitable gifting programs to replace, for heirs, the value of estate assets that were gifted to charity.
- Gift Creation: Used to create a significant donation to charity at death or during life.
- Gift Leverage: Used to maximize the eventual charitable donation at the death of the insured.
Although often mistakenly viewed as a price-only decision, the long-term nature of life insurance necessitates careful consideration in the selection of the insurance carrier, the product type, and the insurance professional to represent you and interact with your heirs. Some questions to consider in purchase include:
- Does the insurance professional have a business succession plan that provides for continued service after the retirement or death of the original agent?
- Does the insurance professional have sufficient experience to adequately meet your needs?
- Does the insurance professional have any influence with the carrier selected?
- Is the carrier financially sound?
- Does the carrier have a history of equitable treatment of existing policyholders?
- Will the service levels provided by the carrier satisfy your requirements?
- Will the product be able to adapt to changes in your personal and financial goals or situation?
- Are the pricing assumptions of the product economically sound?
- If a term purchase, what products may be converted?
Issues such as the ones above highlight the power of M Financial Group. As an M Member Firm we are active members of a community of leading professionals in the life insurance business. The collective buying power of M Financial often allows Member Firms access to proprietary products that utilize more favorable pricing experience than off-the-shelf products and to garner unique service considerations. These and other advantages through M Financial may make the selection of an M Member Firm as your representative a prudent choice. Please go to www.mfin.com/DisclosureStatement for further details regarding this relationship.
Estate, Business, and Retirement Solutions
Life insurance is a key component of the overall personal financial strategy for many business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals, and families.
No other asset can provide what life insurance does: immediate, liquid, certain, tax and creditor free cash, at an unpredictable, but inevitable time.
Life insurance can:
- Solve liquidity concerns, prevent forced sale of your assets at death, and enable you to provide equitably for all your beneficiaries upon your death.
- Enable business owners to affordably acquire other ownership interests and help preserve the financial security of the deceased business owner’s family.
- Solve family financial issues relative to, for example, second marriages, children from different marriages, domestic partners, and other beneficiaries.
- Give beneficiaries flexibility to either keep a private company, or sell it on favorable terms.
- Allow you to retain control over your assets during your lifetime, while protecting your family and solving tax and liquidity concerns upon your death.
- Enable you to provide family with the inheritance you want them to receive, create wonderful legacies for charity, and eliminate tax liabilities.
Beyond basic strategies such as marital deduction and annual exclusion gifts, there are three strategies that are particularly important for wealthy people to consider:
- Valuation Discount Strategies
- Charitable Gifts
- Life Insurance
Careful strategies for affluent individuals should always include consideration of potential life insurance solutions, appropriate for your particular circumstances.
Executive Benefit Services
In order to attract, retain, and motivate top quality executives, successful companies implement properly designed and maintained compensation programs.
We design, implement, and administer supplemental plans for key executives, to provide benefits and income security, beyond their current compensation, qualified retirement and group insurance plans. We also help companies and executives make estate planning an integral part of their business and personal financial strategies, to ensure both the company’s ongoing success and the executives’ personal needs.
These plans include, for example:
- Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans (SERP’s)
- Elective Deferral Plans
- Split Dollar Plans
- Group Term Carve Out Plans
- Bonus Plans
- Death Benefit Plans
Through us, you have access to proprietary products, valuable guaranteed issue and simplified underwriting. In conjunction with your other professionals, we assist with:
- Plan Design
- Accounting Treatment and Earnings Impact
- Asset/Liability Management
- Security Devices
- Cost Recovery Funding
- Reporting and Compliance (special requirements for financial institutions)
- Benefit Tracking
You may benefit from our creative designs and policy service. Executive compensation strategies can be combined with wealth transfer solutions, assuring executives that their executive benefits and personal assets are appropriately coordinated.
Guaranteed Issue Executive Life Insurance Plans
The Downey Group specializes in the design, negotiation, and administration of guaranteed issue life and disability insurance programs for large U.S. based professional firms.
Currently, we service over 40 firms with 50 – 1,000 partners per firm. This array is made up of over 6,100 insureds and $6.1 billion in face amount. Approximately 4,250 are active partners and 2,000 are “portables” – partners who have retired or changed firms.
We offer cutting edge products and responsive, high-quality service, specifically tailored to your needs.
- All policies are individually owned, portable, and adaptable to your funding and ownership goals. Through us, you may obtain, in specific cases, special policy terms unavailable through other brokers, favorable pricing, and guaranteed issue underwriting.
- We provide streamlined, complete enrollment and administration, and if desired, on-site education.
- We are advocates for you, to keep the life insurance carrier responsive to your needs. We have long experience with many life insurance carriers, leverage, and credibility in obtaining policy and service improvements for you.
- Before our involvement, many clients were unimpressed with the service provided by their insurance carrier. We provide that high quality service at no additional cost to you, and often we are able to secure sponsor premium savings.
- Our clients are always served by the “first team” — by the key professionals who have thorough knowledge and expertise in this specific type of life insurance program. We are not a brokerage providing commoditized planning and products. The field of executive life insurance planning is relatively vast.
- We also provide excellent ongoing service to thousands of “portable” policyholders who have left their firms and continue their coverage. This speaks not only to the value of the policies acquired at the firm, but also to the quality of our service after they leave.
Ultimately, all business owners must decide in what capacity they want their business to continue, what their own long-term individual contributions will be, the best way to ensure the ongoing care of their clients, and the optimal direction and strategy to execute those objectives. If your business has not yet developed or communicated a plan for business continuation in the event of an unexpected incident or catastrophe (e.g., the unexpected death or disability of an owner or key decision-maker, or a natural disaster), you are missing an opportunity to protect your business from potential devastation.
While financial considerations are often the primary focus, philosophical and emotional considerations that may not be as clear also play a vital role in the approach and design of a succession plan. We will work closely with you and your team of professionals to identify areas of concern and opportunity and provide solutions that help to bring certainty to the future of your business. We design plans intended to help your reputation—with your business identity within your community, among your customers, and within your industry—remain intact in the event of a significant change.
Disability And Long-Term Care
Income and asset protection are important components of a sound retirement strategy. Effective disability and long-term care planning, both pre- and post- retirement, is a critical part of a successful financial strategy, helping to ensure stability, growth, and protection of income and assets for the long term.
A disability could be devastating to the income and accumulation goals of executives on your team. As an employer, you want to provide adequate coverage to key executives on a cost-effective basis. Understanding the risk, assessing the income protection needs of your key employees, and designing effective solutions that benefit both the employer and the employees can make a significant difference.
Employers should carefully weigh their choices and balance cost and administration with the need for adequate coverage. There are many factors to consider, and we will help better prepare you by finding the right protection for you and your executives.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care is usually defined as a chronic condition for which an individual requires assistance with his or her usual activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs are commonly defined as eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, maintaining continence, and transferring from bed to chair. When an individual needs physical assistance or verbal reminders to perform his or her ADLs, they are generally classified as needing long-term care, whether they need the assistance occasionally or full-time.
Diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive, and rehabilitative services all have their place in a comprehensive long-term care program. The primary focus of long-term care however, is on the personal care and support that will preserve an individual’s lifestyle, daily independence, and dignity.
It can be difficult to plan for long-term care needs because there are multiple factors influencing the decision making process, including:
- Ambivalence about long-term living arrangements as physical capabilities decline.
- Inability or unwillingness of family members to provide periodic or ongoing support when the time comes.
- Misinformation about long-term care options or services available through health programs, Medicare, etc.
- Difficulty in juggling financial and family priorities when planning for long-term care.
The financial implications of a disability, chronic disease, or other debilitating condition are often underestimated. Along with health care costs in general, these costs are expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. As most health insurance will not pay for the majority of costs associated with an extended period of illness or injury, long-term care insurance offers a solution with tax-free benefits that are aimed at protecting valuable assets that would otherwise be severely reduced or lost entirely.
Proper estate planning better supports the current and future financial possibilities for you and your family, allows you to transfer your wealth according to your wishes, and can help reduce unnecessary taxes and expenses.
We are committed to working with you and your family to help determine your long-term personal financial goals and plan accordingly. In addition, we will structure your estate assets to help minimize tax liabilities and maximize value to future generations. Our professional team will work with any additional advisors you may have, such as an attorney or accountant, to develop and implement a plan of action. All of these strategies will be coordinated with your insurance contracts in order to provide a sound, workable plan. Periodically, we will review with you in order to assess our progress in accomplishing your long-term objectives.
Ultimately, our goal is to assure that you and your family have taken prudent steps to reduce your tax liabilities and to create the most effective means to help finance any future tax liabilities.
At a time when social responsibility has taken on increasing importance, charitable planning offers a strategic way for you to connect to causes that you and your family feel passionate about. Whether your aim is to develop a philanthropic legacy for your family, or simply to support your community, tax-favored aiding programs create ongoing opportunities to transfer family assets to public and/or private charities. These charities often include family foundations that are managed by family members, in which the family retains control over the gifted assets and access to income generated by these assets. Often, charitable planning provides a balance to estate and life insurance plans, while taking on personal meaning for you and your family. We offer creative solutions aimed to help achieve your personal or familial philanthropic goals without interrupting your family’s long-term financial possibilities.
An important component to any estate plan is gifting, which allows you to reduce the size of your taxable estate by strategically transferring the wealth you have worked so hard to create for your family members.Gifting enables you to take advantage of the substantial tax advantages available through the use of lifetime gifts. Thoughtful use of these gifts through the use of planning vehicles such as trusts and life insurance can help maximize the value created for your heirs. We can help you determine a gifting strategy that is consistent with your planning objectives.