A segregated fund (seg fund) is an investment, a type of insurance product, and estate planning tool all in one. Here’s a quick rundown of the basics.
A seg fund is a type of investment that lets you participate in the markets. Like mutual funds, seg funds pool investors’ money together. Pooling creates economies of scale to give you investment opportunities that might not be available to you as an individual investor.
Seg fund products also have an insurance component and are formally referred to as “individual variable insurance contracts.” The insurance component of the contract provides additional features like estate planning advantages, potential creditor protection, and death benefit and maturity guarantees that can help protect your initial investment against market drops.
Estate planning advantages
Because your seg fund contract is a type of insurance contract, you get to name a beneficiary (or more than one) who receives the fund assets as an inheritance when you pass away. The money in the fund bypasses your estate and goes directly to your beneficiary without going through probate1 — the legal process that certifies a will and transfers assets to heirs. Here’s why that’s such a good thing:
- Speed — It can take six to 12 months to settle an estate, longer if there are court delays. With segregated fund contracts, the money is usually paid within two weeks.
- Lower costs — Bypassing the estate means avoiding accounting, legal, and administration fees, as well as probate. These fees can add up quickly.
- Privacy — Wills may become public documents and the information in them can easily get out. Segregated fund contracts are private.2
- Protection — Having the death benefit bypass the estate offers potential protection from estate creditors and court challenges to a will.
- Control — Manulife Investment Management seg funds let you specify how you want the wealth paid — as a lump sum or gradually over time. This is called the annuity settlement option and you can learn more about it here.
Your investment options
Just as with mutual funds, you can choose from equity, fixed income, and balanced seg funds, as well as managed portfolios that give you professional asset allocation. And, like mutual funds, you can choose to hold seg funds in a non-registered account or one of our many tax-advantaged registered plans:
- Registered Retirement Savings plan (RRSP)
- Tax-free Savings Account (TFSA)
- Retirement Income Fund (RIF)
- Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA)
- Life Income Fund (LIF)
Manulife even offers a specialized segregated fund RESP for people who are saving for a child’s education.
Your advisor will work with you to help you choose the type of investment and plan that’s right for you based on your goals and life stage. Keep in mind that, like all investment options, there are costs associated with segregated fund contracts. These include but are not limited to management fees, insurance fees, operating costs, and sales tax. Some contracts may also include a charge for early withdrawal.
Speak to your advisor if you’d like more information on how segregated funds can help you take advantage of market growth, protect your wealth, and pass it on to the next generation.
1 The probate process and fees don’t apply in Quebec. There’s a verification process for non-notarial wills but not for notarial wills. 2 In Saskatchewan, jointly held property and insurance policies with a named beneficiary are included on the application for probate but don’t flow through the estate and aren’t subject to probate fees.
Manulife Investment Management is a trade name of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (Manulife) is the issuer of insurance contracts containing Manulife segregated funds and the guarantor of any guarantee provisions therein. Any amount that is allocated to a segregated fund is invested at the risk of the contractholder and may increase or decrease in value. Manulife Funds are managed by Manulife Investment Management Limited (formerly named Manulife Asset Management Limited). Manulife Investment Management is a trade name of Manulife Investment Management Limited. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments and the use of an asset allocation service. Please read the fund facts as well as the prospectus of the mutual funds in which investment may be made under the asset allocation service before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. Manulife, Manulife Investment Management, the Stylized M Design, and Manulife Investment Management & Stylized M Design are trademarks of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and are used by it, and by its affiliates under license.