Saturday, March 15, 2014

Silicon Valley Billionaire Wastes Fortune On Life Insurance

Some Silicon Valley titan just dropped serious coin on the world's most expensive life insurance policy.  This unnamed billionaire is probably very intelligent in her or his business career.  That talent didn't prevent this very stupid decision.  There are cheaper ways to incentivize one's heirs while leaving them the bulk of a hard-earned fortune.

This person could have pulled a George Lucas and dumped the bulk of their assets into a charitable foundation after selling off whatever enterprise they owned.  They also could have set up separate charitable remainder trusts for each beneficiary among their next of kin and recorded major tax deductions.  Charitable gifts work pretty much the same way for publicly traded securities, restricted shares, and entire private enterprises.  The only things that would be difficult to gift might be "future assets" like deferred compensation from options or bonuses subject to earnouts.  If this person's financial advisory team proposed a range of options for the client's consideration then they fulfilled their fiduciary duties.  

Insurance products are among the most expensive things investment advisers can sell.  All this nameless big shot accomplished was the transfer of risk from their portfolio to a collection of insurance companies.  If one of those insurance companies ends up insolvent in the next financial crisis, like AIG was in the last one, that policy could be toast.  Life insurance has a role to play in creating an estate that will provide income in the absence of a head of household.  This billionaire doesn't have that problem.  Their life insurance policy didn't need to be this big.  Someone just wasted a lot of money for more peace of mind.