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As investors age, they become more vulnerable to making errors in their finances. This is because the ability to make sound financial decisions begins to peak in one's mid-50s. For this reason, retirees should be prepared to handle the risk of diminished capacity in order to prevent predatory or fraudulent sales tactics against them before it is too late. Some precautionary measures may include preparing a will and empowering an attorney to handle healthcare and financial issues. Still, brokers are able to convince senior investors into buying variable annuities by misrepresenting the true nature and cost of the product. Variable annuities are generally unsuitable for elderly investors, particularly those over 70 years for several reasons.

An annuity is a form of insurance that offers a series of payments for a period of time. Variable annuities are typically higher in risk when compared other types of annuities and depend on how the stock market is performing. Buyers have the option to allocate the cash invested into different types of assets such as mutual funds, indices, fixed income investments or bonds, and cash. Most variable annuities do not have principal protection, so investors can lose money if markets deteriorate.

Variable annuities are also very costly to investors. An agent can collect at least 5% from the moment of sale and 0.5% or more every year for the life of the investment; variable annuities with common riders can take over 3% off annual returns. Surrender charges of as much as 9% may apply if an investor is in need of cash due to an unexpected emergency. On top of all this, insurance companies are offering Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefits (GLWB) without clearly telling investors the costs associated with taking early distributions. GLWBs allow percentage withdrawals based on the total amount without having to annuitize the investment. The problem with GLWBs is the immense cost of withdrawal, which is hidden away from investors in the terms of the agreement.

Senior investors cannot be urged enough to find a financial advisor or broker they can trust. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for the investor to tell if the broker is acting his or her best interest when suffering a decline in mental ability. That is why senior financial advisors or investors should also employ a trustworthy and financially savvy third-party or family member to monitor a broker's recommendations, which can help prevent significant investment losses well into retirement.

Have you suffered a loss of principal in your variable annuity? If so, call Robert Pearce at the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. for a free consultation.

The most important of investors' rights is the right to be informed! This Investors' Rights blog post is by the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., located in Boca Raton, Florida. For over 30 years, Attorney Pearce has tried, arbitrated, and mediated hundreds of disputes involving complex securities, commodities and investment law issues. The lawyers at our law firm are devoted to protecting investors' rights throughout the United States and internationally! Please visit our website,, post a comment, call (800) 732-2889, or email Mr. Pearce at for answers to any of your questions about this blog post and/or any related matter.