Viaticals- A ‘Dark Alternative’ To Shielding Survivors From Credit Challenges Of Medical Collections
It’s just not enough to face the final phase of life with all the finality that goes with it without dealing with medical bills, collections and possible judgements all tied to the a terminally ill patient. A person may have worked all their lives with purpose and grace only to be run over by terminal illness.
With accelerating medical costs the tab can be run up fairly quickly. Any savings or even health insurance may not be even close enough to meet the burden. Home equities can be quickly squeezed and exhausted. The terminal patient (this could be someone severely over weight-family history of heart disease as well-etc.) never intended to leave loved ones holding the ultimate financial bag. It just happens. As thoughts of Ralph Edwards the former host of “This Is Your Life” play out in the brain the mind may race ahead to the final act leaving loved ones to deal with the financial aftermath of this “life”. The obituary might read “He was a great guy/gal, but left his family and loved ones with a ton of unpaid debts.” An alternative for a terminally ill patient (or could be medically challenged and not able to work) may be a “Viatical”. If there is a term life insurance policy or better, such as whole life, universal life, annuity etc., in place or even a paid up policy or one that has monthly payments being made this could quality for the Viatical vehicle.
This then is the ultimate and final use of a handicapper. When life policies are taken out actuaries make a bet when a person is going to die based on their medical history, age, weight, health levels, occupations, smoker, non-smoker, etc. Later on, if the need arises, another handicapper can enter the scene. It is by request only. Viaticals are based on handicapping the rest of a person’s life based on the medical and such to determine by guessing when death might arrive. An investor will bid on a discounted basis on the face amount of the policy to give the insured and beneficiaries cash right now. A terminally ill patient may want to get their financial affairs cleaned up before dying so as not to stick love ones with a financial disaster. This comes home to anyone who in addition is dealing with the terminal illness but may be facing foreclosure from their home, cars repossessed, credit that has long since gone down the drain and a whole new layer of stress in the circle of concerned and effected loved ones. What to do, ride it out and let the chips fall where they may, OR make an effort to get it handled now and bring some peace to everyone by taking care of the financial affairs before death. Yes there will be a substantial reduction in the face value of the policy by taking a cash advance now, but it may save a lot of pain for immediate survivors. This is not for everyone. Obviously, if there is no life insurance policy in place for the terminally ill patient, this will not be an option.
When Groucho Marx was host of the “You Bet Your Life” game show, it was a very funny game show. This, however, becomes the ultimate “bet” for an insured life and certainly it’s not too funny, but it represents one alternative. On the one hand the beneficiaries of the policy want the absolute most possible cash versus the face value of the policy, whereas the investor doesn’t want to pay too much if the terminally ill patient makes a miraculous recovery and the return to the investor is delayed by years. So the arm wrestling is engaged and negotiations are mounted. Medical histories and doctor input (with the patients written permission) together with the life policy product are all utilized to come up with a number. Decisions have to be made. Is the cash enough or should the premiums be maintained (if required) and let nature take its course. It’s a delicate balance between patient needs and cleaning up ones financial affairs before death. This ‘Dark Alternative’ has received massive negative press. Investigations were initiated against some of the handicapper players for taking advantage of the life policy insured, which were perceived to be the most vulnerable. However, would it be better for the family to be set out on the curb when the sheriff issues the final eviction on the foreclosure? Would it be better for the family cars to be repossessed for non-payment? Would it be good for survivors to have wages attached through garnishment? Talk about life interrupted, this is a major stress magnet for all parties involved not the least of which is the insured. So who is to question, if someone is willing to pay cash now for a future benefit. Even multi-billionaire Mr. Warren Buffet was a player in Viaticals for a time. It’s not like there is only one place to go. An insured can select the highest bidder from a whole host of interested parties. Search any online engine and there they are.
After receiving the cash for the life policy the Viatical owner/investor will make any needed payments on the policy to protect their vested position. The insured is relieved of making any additional payments for the rest of their life or when the term of the policy expires such as a stated term policy with conversion priveleges. Here is an example how this might work. These are online publicly published numbers, we can only assume they are true. Source: CIGI Direct (Not an endorsement). The discounts are deep but immediate cash is generated. Each case will totally be different. This is just cursory examples.
Female: 77 (Very Good Health)
Male: 68 (Bypass History)
Policy Type: Universal Life
Policy Type: Convertible Term Life
Face Amount: $750,000
Face Amount: $200,000
Cash Value: $102,287
Cash Value: $0
Life Settlement to Customer: $137,000.
Life Settlement to Customer: $40,500.
Male: 56 (Prostate Cancer History)
Male: 66 (Very Good Health)
Policy Type: Convertible Term Life
Policy Type: Convertible Term Life
Face Amount: $1,500,000
Face Amount: $1,000,000
Cash Value: $ 0
Cash Value: $0
Life Settlement to Customer: $360,000
Life Settlement to Customer: $24,650
These are just a few examples only. Again, each individual case is different. Each investor in a Viatical will handicap (underwrite) it differently. Consumers need to be aware and shop for the best offer. A focused effort of nailing a good cash settlement through using a Viatical settlement won’t make a day or two difference so a consumer needs to get as many quotes as possible. Once one accumulates the revenant data, it can then be presented to multiple buyer participants who may have an interest. Then with a price settled, papers are signed and a cash transfer is made. Obviously, establishing the correct identification of the insured and determining a valid enforceable insurance contract will need to be verified and proved. There is always the possibility that someone in one’s family or circle of friends may beat the bid and take a position in excess of the highest bid. You never know. It would be worth while to at least inquire. This is no time for family secrets here with the grim reaper lurking about. If a family member can help out in this situation that would be great. They might as well as benefit as opposed to a stranger corporate investor. In this case there could be some mitigation and resolution after death IF the family member would choose to share. Dealing with a company or investor, there would be ZERO chance of that.
In conclusion, this is just another tool to help in credit situations where there are little choices and alternatives. It would be great to be flush with cash, full insurance, huge investment portfolios and such, but some just don’t have it. If there is life insurance place in place and there no other valid alternatives, Viaticals can be an option to consider while Bankruptcy and other options will not work. The ‘Dark Alternative’ can lead to comfort for all parties in the death process, which is all part of life. It may ensure a sense of “Death With Dignity’.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dale Rogers is a thirty-year mortgage veteran and frequent contributor to the Broken Credit Blog. The BCB is a free website created to assist the general public with information about credit repair and responsible mortgage lending. www.BrokenCredit.com