Questions and Answers from the book “The Wit and Wisdom of Professor PPLI: How to Achieve Exceptional Asset Structuring with Private Placement Life Insurance”
Professor PPLI and the Caterpillar
Section 1, Part 5
Professor PPLI, we know the many issues that PPLI can solve for wealthy families today, but how did this begin? What are the origins of PPLI?
PPLI began in the 1980s in the United States. It was principally used to structure benefits for senior executives at major corporations. It allowed these executives to customize their investments and provide greater benefits than with the standard plans available.
In the early 1990s, PPLI was adopted by wealthy individuals. Attorneys and other advisors saw that PPLI could be a valuable tool in planning for wealthy clients given all the advantages of life insurance. PPLI allows planners to incorporate all of the key elements of Expanded Worldwide Planning (EWP) into one coherent structure: privacy, asset protection, tax shield, succession planning, compliance simplifier, and trust substitute.
In the mid-1990s, major companies entered the PPLI market. Insurance companies saw the marketing opportunities inherent in PPLI, and we see companies being formed in tax friendly jurisdictions like Bermuda and Barbados. Presently, PPLI is seen as a sophisticated asset structuring tool, and a potent planning technique in the hands of advisors throughout the world.
Professor PPLI, please tell us more about how PPLI transforms assets once they are in the policy structure.
Much like the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, when assets are put into a properly structured policy, the insurance company becomes the beneficial owner of the assets. The owner of the policy, usually a trust, uses the assets for the benefit of the wealthowner, even though there are some restrictions due to the investor control regulations for those clients with a connection to the U.S. For clients who have a connection to the U.S., they must comply with the investor control and diversification regulations.
In today’s world of news leaks and fake news, clients worldwide are seeking legitimate privacy in their financial affairs. In recent years, this has been eroded. Interestingly enough, it is part of the Founding Fathers’ vision of the U.S., and is part of the EU’s founding documents. This legitimate privacy can be achieved by using a U.S. trust situated in certain jurisdictions coupled with a properly structured PPLI policy.
In the environment of global taxation that we have today, what gives PPLI a distinct advantage over other methods of asset structuring?
This advantage can be summarized in two words: life insurance. Life insurance is recognized the world over as a societal benefit, and in most jurisdictions has built-in tax advantages. Because of this we begin the structuring process for wealthy families with a conservative tool, not some new construct recently discovered in the tax code.
For advisors who only use life insurance as a method of introducing liquidity into an illiquid estate, for instance, one that holds mostly real estate, it is a learning process to recognize that a properly structured policy can hold almost any asset that a trust company can have in custody. Having the assets in a policy that is owned by a trust gives the wealthowner distinct advantages that cannot be achieved by a trust alone.
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