Lump Sum Buyout: A Case Study

 Tim Wyman & Melissa Joy from the Center for Financial Planning were recently featured in Dow Jones NewsWires on this subject.

In an article titled Pensioners Decline Lump-Sum Buyout by Niki Reading, Tim and Melissa collectively walk through an individual client’s decision process as they choose between taking a lump sum payment offer or continuing their annuity payments.  As the excerpt reveals, it is not always a number game.  Real life issues sometimes demand real life solutions.

The client is 70 years old and his wife is in her late 60s. In addition to the pension, they have about $1 million socked away, both receive Social Security and are also employed part-time. They use an annuity and Social Security to cover monthly living expenses.

Tim Wyman, CFP® ran the numbers and determined that the buyout looked appealing: The breakeven point was at about 12 years, he says, and Mr. Wyman and his team navigated the tricky life-expectancy conversation to determine that the clients, too, felt it made good sense.

While many long-time company employees feel a sense of loyalty to their employer--and believe that nothing will interrupt their monthly pension checks--there are others who are more inclined to take the money and run. In this case, the clients were happy to cash out.

But despite the initial allure of the lump-sum payout, Mr. Wyman and Ms. Melissa Joy, CFP® had one big concern about the clients' plan. Because the firm had managed the couple's money for years, they knew that the couple had for many years offered financial support to their two adult children.

"If you have $500,000 sitting in an account, when you give kids $20,000 it doesn't seem like it'll have a huge effect," Mr. Wyman says, but over time the tab had added up for the couple. And, with a little help from Tim and Melissa, the clients recognized that a $250,000 buyout check might lead them down the same path.

The experience reinforced to Mr. Wyman that smart financial decisions don't always revolve around whether the numbers add up. Indeed, in this case the key was looking beyond the dollars and cents to see the solution was right for the clients. The answer turned out to be no.

As the Ford pension buy-out season continues, many important decisions remain for Ford retirees. Please feel free to email Melissa or Tim with additional questions or comments.

This case study is for illustrative purposes only. Individual cases will vary. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Prior to making any investment decision, you should consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.