CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
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This application claims priority benefit of and is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/335,742, filed Dec. 16, 2008, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/654,489, filed Jan. 17, 2007, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,010,388, issued Aug. 30, 2011, and claims priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/778,477, filed Mar. 2, 2006, and claims priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/188,963 filed Aug. 14, 2008, the entire contents of all of which are herein incorporated by reference for all purposes.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
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The present invention generally relates to the field of financial services computer systems, and particularly to computer systems for administering guaranteed income payments.
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OF THE INVENTION
Traditional lifetime retirement income sources such as social security and pensions are playing an increasingly smaller role in modern retirement income planning and strategies. As the level of benefits provided under once robust pensions plans dwindle and the stability of the social security system itself is questioned, other sources of retirement income have become increasingly more important. Furthermore, coupled with longer lifespans, continued inflation and financial markets volatility, retirement poses many challenges for current generations. An increasing concern of many retirees (and those approaching retirement) is the possibility of outliving one's assets.
Guaranteed income annuities can overcome many of these retirement challenges and provide security and certainty for individuals. By providing lifetime or period certain streams of guaranteed income, (or a combination of both these income annuities can meet many post retirement income needs and assure retirees of guaranteed income to support their lifestyles. Current variations of guaranteed income annuities are offered as either a separate immediate annuity or as a separate deferred annuity. Immediate annuities have periodic annuity payments that begin within one year of the purchase date of the annuity contract. In contrast, deferred annuities have payments that begin more than 12 months after purchase of the annuity contract, and in one manifestation (longevity insurance which defers payouts to an age at or around life expectancy) can provide a useful backstop to the investment strategy of a retiree
Currently, in order to compare the relative benefits of an immediate to that of a deferred annuity, an agent would have to view illustrations from two separate and distinct annuity products. This is primarily due to the fact that conventional deferred annuities must meet complex state insurance laws and special distribution requirements given the delayed aspect of the payout stream. These stringent requirements are similar to other accumulation-type annuities with account balances that have not been annuitized, e.g., variable annuities which offer a variety of mutual fund and equity investment accounts (which only allow annuitization to begin at the time of election), fixed annuities and modified guaranteed annuities. On the other hand, immediate payout annuities are exempt from both the state insurance nonforfeiture laws and the distribution ownership limitations. Such disparate regulatory treatment has made these types of annuities difficult for consumers to compare, contrast and actually benefit from since each has to be modeled and purchased separately.
Accordingly, it would be desirable to have a system which could offer and administer a guaranteed income product with both the benefits of both immediate and deferred annuities as well as offering consumer greater flexibility with respect to the payments to be made and permitting the insurance agent to easily provide a potential consumer with a broad range of income annuity options in a concise manner of comparison.
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OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a computer system for processing a guaranteed income annuity having both immediate and deferred payout options in a single guaranteed income contract. The system includes a communications component adapted to receive information relating to the immediate and deferred payout options in the single contract, wherein the information further includes at least a contract issue date, a commencement date and an amount of an initial premium. The system further includes a processor coupled to the communications component, the processor adapted to process the information including at least the contract issue date, the commencement date and the amount of the initial premium, a memory in communication with the processor, the memory adapted to store the contract issue date, the commencement date and the amount of the initial premium, the processor further adapted to determine one or more payment amounts based on the stored contract issue date, commencement date and amount of an initial premium, the memory further adapted to store the determined payment amounts; and the processor further adapted to provide an output signal indicative of instructions for one or more payments to be made based on the stored payment amounts, wherein the payments may be either immediate or deferred arising out of the single guaranteed income contract.
One embodiment of the present invention is a system for providing and administering a flexible guaranteed income annuity which allows a contract owner to either select immediate annuity payments or defer annuity payments for a later date. The system administers a base annuity contract which constitutes an immediate annuity and through a deferred annuity commencement rider, the annuity contract becomes a deferred payout annuity, thus enabling a single contract form to satisfy the entire spectrum of income or payout annuities that would be used for retirement income planning. The system is further adapted to administer an optional annuity commencement date change rider that under certain circumstances allows the contract owner to make a one-time change to the annuity commencement date. The system is also adapted to administer an optional annuity commutation rider that permits the to commute certain types of any benefits into a single lump sum cash payment equal to the present value of the commuted annuity payments.
Another embodiment of the present invention is a system for administering an individual fixed payout annuity product is provided and comprises an electronic communication device for receiving information for the payout annuity, where the information includes an annuity commencement date from a selection of immediate and deferred options, an issue date and an annuity payment option. A computer is coupled to the electronic communication device for receiving a premium payment. The computer is utilized for determining the annuity payment option selected and for calculating guaranteed periodic annuity payments having the annuity commencement date. The computer is also used for modifying guaranteed periodic annuity payments based on one or more commutation options.
In one embodiment, the present invention is a computer implemented method for administering a fixed payout annuity product having immediate and deferred options available in a single contract. In this embodiment, the method comprises the steps of receiving, via an electronic communication device, information for the fixed payout annuity having immediate and deferred options, the information including an annuity commencement date from a selection of both immediate and deferred options in a single contract, an issue date, annuitant information and an annuity payment amount, storing in a storage device, the annuity commencement date, the issue date, the annuitant information and the annuity payment amount, calculating in a computer central processing unit, a stream of guaranteed periodic annuity payments based on the stored annuity commencement date, the issue date and the annuity payment amount, and generating indicia indicative of payment based on the calculated payment amounts, the payment amount reflecting either an immediate or a deferred payout scenario arising out of the single contract.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
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A further understanding of the present invention can be obtained by reference to a preferred embodiment set forth in the illustrations of the accompanying drawings. Although the illustrated embodiment is merely exemplary of systems for carrying out the present invention, both the organization and method of operation of the invention, in general, together with further objectives and advantages thereof, may be more easily understood by reference to the drawings and the following description. The drawings are not intended to limit the scope of this invention, which is set forth with particularity in the claims as appended or as subsequently amended, but merely to clarify and exemplify the invention.
FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an exemplary financial services computer configuration for implementation of a method and system of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of an exemplary financial services computer server for implementation of a method and system of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of another exemplary financial services computer system for implementation of a method and system of the present invention.
FIG. 4 depicts a flow chart of a financial services computerized process of the present invention.
FIG. 5 depicts a flow chart of an embodiment of a computer implemented financial services process of the present invention.
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OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
A detailed illustrative embodiment of the present invention is disclosed herein. However, techniques, systems and operating structures in accordance with the present invention may be embodied in a wide variety of forms and modes, some of which may be quite different from those in the disclosed embodiment. Consequently, the specific functional details disclosed herein are merely representative, yet in that regard, they are deemed to afford the best embodiment for purposes of disclosure and to provide a basis for the claims herein which define the scope of the present invention.
Moreover, well known methods and procedures for both carrying out the objectives of the present invention and illustrating the preferred embodiment are incorporated herein but have not been described in detail as not to unnecessarily obscure novel aspects of the present invention.
None of the terms used herein, including “annuity”, “payout contract”, “financial vehicle” and the like are meant to limit the application of the invention. The terms are used interchangeably for convenience and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. Similarly, the use of the term “consumer”, “company”, “purchaser”, or “individual” is not meant to limit the scope of the invention to one type of entity, as any entity or individual can utilize the present invention. The following presents a detailed description of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
Referring now to FIG. 1, a schematic diagram of a client/agent server arrangement 100 for implementation of a method and system for processing and administering flexible guaranteed payments or payouts in accordance with an embodiment of the invention is shown. The present invention provides a dual natured fixed income annuity product which combines the best features of both immediate and deferred payouts in a single form. In the arrangement 100 of FIG. 1, financial service client/agent devices 110, 120, and 130 are in communication via a network 140 with at least one financial services information technology server 150. In one implementation, client/agent devices 110, 120 and 130 may be computer terminals or personal computers running an operating system such as Windows XP, Windows Vista, Apple OS, UNIX, LINUX, thin client devices, portable devices such as personal digital assistants (running the Palm OS, by way of example), cell phones, or other devices. Client/agent devices 110, 120 and 130 may be operated by individual prospective contract purchasers, annuitants, broker dealers, agents or other financial advisors, or by personnel of an insurance service provider. Network 140 may be or include the Internet, a corporate intranet, wireless and wired communications channels, or other subnetworks, network nodes or locations.
Client/agent devices 110, 120, and 130 are adapted to receive, process, display and communicate information related to a guaranteed income product 160 having the benefits and features of both an immediate and a deferred guaranteed income annuity wrapped into a single contract form. In one embodiment, representative client/agent device 120 is adapted to display, receive and process information regarding guaranteed income product 160. This enables the agent to illustrate the entire range of benefit options over the client\'s retirement horizon in a single tool and a prospective purchaser to easily see the range of benefit options in a single view. As shown in FIG. 1, product 160 is represented visually by an immediate payout scenario 162 and at least one deferred payout scenario 164. Guaranteed income product 160 provides purchasers with the certainty of income payments in the manner designated and selected by the purchaser via system 100. Guaranteed income product 160 provides the purchaser the flexibility to take income immediately by selecting the immediate payout scenario 162 or delay payments for several years by selecting one of the deferred payout scenarios, 164, 166. Referring still to FIG. 1, it can be seen that depending on how close to retirement the potential purchaser is, an immediate monthly payout can be realized or a deferred payout may be realized, with the result that deferring income has the potential to increase future payments such as shown in deferred payout scenarios 164, 166. For example, under the exemplary monthly payout section 170, it is shown how the monthly payout amounts increase over time corresponding to an increasing annual payout rate in section 172. The specific ages, payout, and rate shown are only for illustrative purposes and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention to the specific figures shown.
Referring still to FIG. 1, server 150 directs the selected payouts streams 180 to one or more recipients. Server 150 may initiate a signal to a financial institution, bank, or other account of the recipient for the payout stream 180. Server 150 may also be configured to direct the printing of a check or other financial mechanism for accomplishing the payment. These payments provide substantial benefits to the recipients. For example, such payments can provide security to cover specific, essential expenses during retirement years; purchasers can avoid being a financial burden on their children; purchasers can satisfy regulatory required minimum distribution requirements; purchasers pass an estate on to heirs or reduce estate taxes; purchasers can receive temporary income until Social Security or other retirement income begins; purchasers can spread out tax liability on a highly appreciated asset; purchasers can pay long-term care insurance policy premiums; and purchasers can simply cover day to day living expenses as well as receive other substantial benefits.
Referring to FIG. 2, an exemplary computer server and network configuration 200 for use in the implementation of the present invention will now be described. Computer server 210 is adapted for financial services related communications via a network 220 for processing and administering a novel guaranteed income product 230 as described herein. Server 210 communicates via a communications port or module 240, such as through suitable buses, ports and other data channels using appropriate bandwidths, frequencies and protocols as required to securely transmit and receive such financial services related information. Communications port 240 is coupled to a processor 250 which is adapted to handle financial services related communications, processing and calculations. The terms “connected” and “coupled” are used broadly and encompass both direct and indirect connecting, and coupling. Further, “connected” and “coupled” are not restricted to physical or mechanical connections or couplings. Processor 250 is further adapted to execute instructions contained in one or more programs which implement methods and processes described herein to process and administer guaranteed income product 230. Server 210 further includes at least one local memory/storage 260 which is adapted to store financial services related information related to guaranteed income product 230. Such information may include one or more of a contract owner identity, the identity of the annuitant and/or joint annuitant, a beneficiary/recipient identity, a contact issue date, a annuity commencement date, a premium amount, and a number of various payout options which may be selected by the contract owner. This information may be processed and stored by server 210 for initial and ongoing setup, administration and maintenance.
In one embodiment of the present invention, local memory/storage 260 is configured to exchange data with processor 250, and may store programs containing processor-executable instructions, and values of variables for use by such programs for the processing and administration of one or more financial services products such as product 230. Product 230 is shown graphically with exemplary immediate payout stream 232 and deferred payout stream 234 available within a single product 230. In this graphical illustration, if a hypothetical purchaser invests X amount of dollars into product 230 and chooses an immediate payout scenario with a certain guaranteed annual payment increase to help protect against inflation, the purchaser would receive immediate payout stream 232 over their lifetime. On the other hand, if the same purchaser elected to receive deferred annuity payments the purchaser would receive deferred payout stream 234 over the rest of their lifetime. Deferred payout stream 234 is an increased payout stream compared to immediate payout stream 232. As shown, the exemplary payment levels, age and deferral periods are only for illustrative purposes, and it is contemplated that these may fluctuate according to each purchaser\'s circumstances, family situation and needs.