The Art of War in Action

Achieve Stealth Victory with PPLI

Private Placement Life Insurance (PPLI) allows you to achieve levels of legitimate privacy not possible with solely planning with trusts. The PPLI policy works in harmony with a trust to create an environment of enhanced privacy. So what war are we talking about? This war is being played out worldwide almost daily between governments and individuals on what constitutes privacy.

This war is not so simple. California just passed a landmark privacy bill, and after the bill’s passage, one aspect that remains ambiguous is what constitutes the data that can be made private at the individual’s choice. We have an excerpt below, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, by Marc Vartabedian, Georgia Wells, and Lara O’Reilly.

“One of the points of contention is likely to fall around the legislation’s definition of “personal data,” which includes broad categories such as biometric data, psychometric information, browsing and search history and geolocation data. The act’s current version states that personal information doesn’t include information that is publicly available or general enough to not identify an individual, a broad definition technology companies may lean on heavily to argue their collection of such data is justified.”

Thankfully, things are somewhat simpler in our field of planning for wealthy international families. By combining a trust and a properly structured PPLI policy, we can transfer beneficial ownership to the insurance company which creates a much welcomed benefit for families.

This is particularly true for those that reside in countries where the government is unstable or corrupt, or sometimes unfortunately both.  This issue raises real concern for the personal data of wealthy international families in the massive exchange of data now taking place under CRS.

In a recent letter to The Financial Times, Filippo Noseda, a partner at Mishcon de Reya LLP, gives us a startling example:

“In Argentina seven members of the Argentine tax authorities were arrested on February 2 for allegedly selling taxpayers’ information, showing the risks faced by citizens living in high-risk jurisdictions who for one reason or another have bank accounts abroad (Argentine police also seized $5m in cash, which gives a measure of the scale of data trafficking). Dissidents with foreign accounts will be particularly vulnerable to reprisals from their governments.”

Hiding in Plain Sight

What are the steps that allow an insurance company to become the beneficial owner of the assets inside a PPLI policy, and give clients a level of legitimate privacy not possible with other techniques?  Here they are:

  • The policyholder contributes the assets that he or she wants to protect as a premium payment, in cash or in kind, to a bespoke investment fund created by the life insurer. The life insurer opens a dedicated account at a custodian bank for the underlying assets of the policy.
  • The policyholder selects an investment strategy and nominates an investment manager. The life company formally appoints the investment manager.
  • This internal investment fund is exclusively linked to the policyholder’s life policy. The value of the PPLI policy is equal at all times to that of the underlying internal investment fund.
  • The life insurer has now become the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) of the underlying assets. In return for the premium payment, the policyholder has a “claim” on the life insurer for the value of the underlying investment fund.

This planning technique of using the insurance company as the beneficial owner of the assets in a PPLI policy is akin to what we learn in a 5th century text by Sun Tzu, The Art of War. This famous text teaches ostensibly about war, but its basic message is–avoid open conflict unless it is absolutely necessary.  A few key quotes from the book demonstrate this:

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

“A good commander is benevolent and unconcerned with fame.”

This is precisely what we do in marrying a trust with a properly structured PPLI policy.  The result is what we call Expanded Worldwide Planning (EWP). By finding the best of what a trust and an a PPLI policy have to offer, we create this legitimate environment of enhanced privacy without a conflict with tax authorities in any jurisdiction worldwide. This is stealth that achieves a victory by study and superior knowledge.

Please bring us your privacy concerns, so we can construct a bespoke structure that fits the aims and goals of your family.

 

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

 

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