Sun Life to buff up early estate-planning product

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In Photo: Del Mundo

SUN Life of Canada (Philippines) Inc. (Sun Life) is keen on reinforcing its early estate planning product to the firm’s more advanced market.

According to Jennifer del Mundo, Sun Life head of agency distribution support, the company is reviewing its Sun Smarter Life product, which will enable heirs of policyholder to have ease in processing estate taxes on the transfer of assets.

The aim of the Sun Smarter Lifeproduct line is to aid the older-aged group in terms of preparing their assets for transfer to their heirs, del Mundo explained.

“The advanced stage is what we want to target because their concerns are unique and it can be addressed by insurance,” she told the BusinessMirror. “It’s early estate planning, when they are thinking what will happen to their assets; ‘Will it be transferred?’ ‘Will it create problems for my heirs?,’ [for one].”

In terms of people leaving a legacy, assets that are transferred to heirs include real assets, such as real-estate property or collectibles, and financial assets, which include bank savings and mutual funds, among others.

Taxation

UNDER the law, estate-tax rates can reach as high as 20 percent. This covers assets with a net worth of P10 million, which will require a tax of P1.215 million. Estate-tax dues is also needed to be settled within a period of six months upon the decedent’s death. A penalty of 25-percent surcharge, as well as a 20-percent interest annually would be imposed should the payment of the tax exceeds the deadline.

According to Sun Life Chief Marketing Officer Mylene Lopa, the Sun Smarter Life caters to the age group starting at 40 years old, estimated to be 27 million of the country’s total 100 million people.

“It’s not only for retirees,” Lopa said. “The bulls-eye target is the retirees that have no more financial priorities, with only their next priority being when they pass on their legacy.”

She added the product responds to concerns on their ability to transfer their assets to heirs.

According to Lopa, the proceeds of a life-insurance policy taken out by the decedent upon his or her own life, which designates the heirs as the irrevocable beneficiary, is not subject to estate tax. This makes it easier for the heirs to receive assets of the deceased, she explained.

Relevance

DEL Mundo believes this “is the first time an insurance company will zero-in on the message: ‘What will you do with your assets? Will you simply just accumulate and then forget them?”

She is urging clients to prepare.

“You have to plan, and therefore, the planning happens prior to your death. And the planning that we like to emphasize is the need to prepare for this, the estate tax,” del Mundo said. “Because if left unattended and the person dies, it will be the heirs who will have problems.”

Lopa added because of tax reforms under the Duterte administration, which proposes, among others, a reduction for both donor’s and estate taxes to a flat rate of 6 percent, the product will still be relevant to more people since it proposes a way for people to minimize costs.

“Right now it is relevant because we have a high estate and donor’s tax threshold,” Lopa said. “If you think about it, if it goes down to 6 percent, then more people are going to be open to pay for it [through the product] since insurance is still cheaper.”

Del Mundo added estate planning remains relevant.

“I don’t think the need for planning will be ever removed. How can you remove the need for planning or transfer?”

She explained the tax of 6 percent “may sound small but compared to the 20 percent at present, to the family of the deceased, if they do not have funds that will be a problem.”



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