Winnipeg-based Great-West Life Assurance Co. (GWL) and its sister companies, Toronto-based Canada Life Assurance Co. and London, Ont.-based London Life Insurance Co., have launched a new series of segregated funds geared to elderly clients who are focused on estate planning.

The new fund series, called Estate Protection, is a brand new offering for GWL. At Canada Life and London Life, the new series replaces similar products called Generations Estate Protection and Freedom Funds Estate Protection, respectively, both of which have now been closed to new sales.

Estate Protection, which is available to clients between the ages of 80 and 90, features a 100% death benefit guarantee, and a 75% maturity guarantee. The product caters to clients who are focused on protecting their legacy.

“There’s a lot of focus on retirement income, but at the same time, there are a lot of assets that are in the hands of elderly Canadians,” says George Turpie, senior vice president of investment products, wealth management, with GWL, Canada Life and London Life. He notes that almost $800 billion are expected to be transferred between generations in the decade ending in 2024.

“[Clients] are nervous about a lot of the things that could impact that wealth transfer,” Turpie says.

The prospect of market volatility, in particular, makes many older clients nervous to invest. The 100% death benefit guarantee, Turpie says, provides peace of mind for those clients.

The new Estate Protection series features a revised lineup of funds, including Canadian balanced funds, fixed-income funds, and lower-risk asset-allocation funds.

Seg funds are a popular option within older demographics given the estate planning benefits of the products, Turpie says, such as the ability for beneficiaries to receive their inheritance quickly and confidentially, while avoiding probate.

“We see significant demand for segregated funds in that age [range],” says Turpie. “Some of the benefits and features of segregated funds are more attractive for elderly clients, whether that’s the guarantee, or whether it’s the estate features.”

The new Estate Protection funds mature on Dec. 28 of the year when the annuitant turns 105. After the maturity date, the policy becomes an income annuity.

The maturity date has increased from age 100 on the previous series of funds, and reflects longer life expectancy, Turpie says.

“We know that more people are living past age 100,” he says, “and so we wanted to provide a maturity date that had as much flexibility as possible.”

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