Q & A – Elegant Simplicity Revealed

Questions and Answers  from the book “The Wit and Wisdom of Professor PPLI: How to Achieve Exceptional Asset Structuring with Private Placement Life Insurance”

~ by Michael Malloy, CLU TEP RFC


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Elegant Simplicity Revealed 

The PPLI Insurance Code 

Part 2, Section 2


Professor PPLI, there is an ironic challenge in presenting PPLI to families. Sometimes there is initial resistance because of a family’s previous experience involving life insurance. But in the end, when the family understands all the benefits of PPLI, they frequently say, “This sounds too good to be true.”

In this section of the book we quote Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a Hungarian biochemist,

“A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.” 

At Advanced Financial Solutions Inc., our approach is to give the basics of Private Placement Life Insurance, (PPLI), then, have the family “discover” it themselves through their questions. This approach is also more interactive, and is not just a one-sided lecture.

PPLI works somewhat differently throughout the world, and family’s initial perceptions about life insurance differ. In the Far East, life insurance is looked upon as a favorable and conservative financial instrument. In the U.S., those who offer securities frequently position the investments in opposition to life insurance, hence, there might be a less favorable initial perception.

Whatever the perception of life insurance throughout the world, countries like Bermuda and Barbados have crafted their laws in order to have state of the art PPLI policy features. In most jurisdictions in the world, this allows clients with proper structuring the ability to place almost any of their worldwide assets inside a PPLI policy to achieve the maximum amount of privacy, tax efficiency, and asset protection.

Private letter rulings issued by the IRS in the U.S. form a significant body of knowledge that must be understood to properly construct a policy for those with a connection to the U.S.. Professor PPLI, please comment further on this.

Particularly in reference to investor control issues, the revenue rulings that you mentioned are of significance. We list them in this Section of the book.

Investor control is a large subject, so I will give you a few fairly recent items of interest on the subject. From the much cited Webber case, I find this point worth mentioning from the judge in the case, Judge Lauber:

“The ability to choose among broad, general investment strategies such as stocks, bonds or money market instruments, either at the time of initial purchase or subsequent thereto, does not constitute sufficient control over individual investment decisions so as to cause ownership of the private mutual fund shares to be attributable to the policyholders.”

One simple planning technique to shield the wealthowner from investor control is to use a non-grantor trust, and not a grantor trust to own the policy. In most situations, investor control issues pertain to the owner of the policy, and if the wealthowner is not the grantor of the trust, and the trustee of the non-grantor trust makes the investment decisions, the wealth owner is further insulated from investor control issues.

The 7702(g) variety of PPLI has become more popular of late, in part, because of the large premiums families are contributing to policies. On a traditional policy design, this usually means a correspondingly large death benefit for the policy. On a 7702(g) policy, the death benefit component of the policy is usually only 5% of the total assets contributed to the policy, and the policy owner does not have access to the growth of the cash value, during the life of the insured person of the policy. This fact eliminates the constructive receipt element of the investor control theory, as the growth in the cash value passes as a tax-free death benefit at the death of the insured person of the policy. This is just another reason to employ this type of policy design for wealthy families throughout the world.

Attempting to make something that is complex, like the tax code, simple, often results in something that becomes even more complex. This phenomenon is frequently seen in tax legislation throughout the world. This is well stated by a tax law professor in this section of the book. Professor PPLI, what are your thoughts on this subject?

Emily Cauble, Professor of Law at DePaul University, tells us,

“Simplification of tax law is complicated. Yet, political rhetoric surrounding tax simplification often focuses on simplistic, superficial indicators of complexity in tax law such as word counts, page counts, number of regulations, and similar quantitative metrics. This preoccupation with the volume of enacted law often results in law that is more complex in a real sense.”

Why not work with a structure like life insurance, that is inherently simpler and more universally established throughout the world than the shifting sands of the world’s tax codes? Yes, is most definitely our answer at Advanced Financial Solutions.

Some of you might be saying, “Well, this sounds good, but have you ever tried to figure out a life insurance policy? Isn’t it just as complex?” This is very true of most retail insurance policies that have a cash value. Not so with PPLI, which can be illustrated on a simple Excel spreadsheet. Fees are also very low in comparison, and the life insurance component is institutionally priced.

Leonardo da Vinci tells us that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” At Advanced Financial Solutions Inc., we employ this concept in both our PPLI designs and working with families throughout the world.


by Michael Malloy, CLU TEP RFC, @ Advanced Financial Solutions, Inc

Michael Malloy-CLU-TEP




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