When Does an Annuity Not Pay the Beneficiary?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

We’ve all heard the term ‘annuity,’ but understanding its intricacies can sometimes be challenging. More importantly, many beneficiaries ask: “When does an annuity not pay the beneficiary?” While annuities are designed to offer reliable income streams, there are scenarios where beneficiaries might not receive the expected payment. Today, we’ll dive deep into this topic to ensure you’re equipped with knowledge and confidence when navigating the complex world of annuities.

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Understanding the Basics: Life-Only Annuity Payment (via Annuitization)

A life-only annuity payment, often received via annuitization, is a type of annuity where payments are made for the duration of the annuitant’s life. Once the annuitant passes away, payments cease, regardless of the remaining account balance.

Example: Imagine Jane, a 65-year-old retiree, opts for a life-only annuity payment. If she lives till 85, she’ll receive payments for 20 years. However, if she passes away at 68, the payments will stop after three years, and the remaining amount will not be passed on to her beneficiaries.

Deferred Annuities and Lifetime Income Riders: A Safer Bet?

Using a deferred annuity with a lifetime income rider can be an alternative to ensure beneficiaries receive some form of payment. The rider guarantees an income stream for the annuitant’s life and can offer protection for beneficiaries.

Example: John, another retiree, selects a deferred annuity with a lifetime income rider. This choice guarantees him income during his lifetime. Should he pass away earlier than expected, the rider ensures that a portion of the annuity’s value is still payable to his designated beneficiaries.

When There’s No Money Left in the Annuity

Sometimes, beneficiaries might not receive payments simply because the annuity has been exhausted. This situation often occurs when annuitants outlive the expected period of annuitization.

Example: Consider Sarah, who decided on an annuity expected to last 15 years based on average life expectancy. However, she lives for 20 years. By her passing, there’s no money left in the annuity to pay her beneficiaries.

Next Steps

Annuities are powerful financial tools designed to provide stability and security in retirement. However, understanding when an annuity might not pay the beneficiary is crucial for effective financial planning. Whether it’s due to the nature of a life-only annuity payment, using a deferred annuity with a lifetime income rider, or simply because there’s no money left, being informed is the first step in ensuring annuitants and their beneficiaries reap maximum benefits. Always consult a financial expert when making decisions about annuities to ensure you make choices that best suit your needs.

When Does An Annuity Not Pay The Beneficiary

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Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you outlive your annuity?

If you outlive a term-certain annuity, payments stop when the term ends. However, lifetime annuities continue payments for as long as you live. Always review contract terms to understand your specific annuity.

Is an annuity part of your estate?

An annuity is generally not part of your probate estate if you’ve named a beneficiary. However, it may still be included in your taxable estate for estate tax purposes. Consult a tax or estate advisor.

Do annuities with beneficiaries go through probate?

Annuities with named beneficiaries generally do not go through probate, as they bypass the probate process and directly pass to the beneficiary. Always consult an estate or tax advisor for specific guidance.

What type of annuities stop all payments at death?

A “life only” or “straight life” annuity typically stops all payments upon the annuitant’s death, providing no benefits to heirs or beneficiaries. Consult your contract for specific terms.

What is the 5-year rule for annuity beneficiaries?

The 5-year rule allows annuity beneficiaries to withdraw the remaining funds in the annuity within five years of the annuitant’s death, either as lump sums or partial payments, subject to taxes.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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