As consumer advocates, we led a living trust Renaissance by writing a great many books for our professional colleagues and the public, along with founding and leading the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys to encourage replacing sterile estate plans with loving instructions that avoid will-planning probate.

To our dismay, it has become clear to us—especially since the advent of the Great Recession—that the retirement and estate plans of too many families are seriously deficient, because they do not have the financial resources to achieve their goals.

Very much like cars without enough gas to reach their intended destinations, it has become clear to us that far too many retirement and estate plans do not have the financial fuel to meet financial destinations. Given our collective 100 plus years of experience as practitioners, collegial mentors, and academicians, we have reflected on where the proper funding of retirement and estate plans have gone wrong, and have arrived at the inescapable conclusion that too much has been lost too often because of the volatility of stock, bond, real estate, and commodity markets.

In our view, families need to guarantee their principal, in whole or in part, by allowing it to grow over time—free of worry or hassle—without enduring the periodic crashes that rob them of their security. Our vision and commitment is to now do everything possible to help them and you do so—that is the purpose behind the creation of our Masters Institute and this book.

We began our book’s trek with a simple question: Do fixed and indexed annuities meet our objective? To answer it, we reflected on our decades of planning experience, the experiences of our Insitute colleagues, and purposed to thoroughly investigate an incredibly large body of literature to discern the truth.

In reviewing many thousands of pages of scholarly, industry, media, and internet blog commentary, the truth was:
“There was no readily apparent truth”, but rather only the biases and diatribe of two clearly divided camps, exacerbated by the lack of in-depth knowledge by an ever opining media. Stocks and bonds advisors deriding annuities as “scams”; insurance industry executives and advisors “singing their praises”; and the media superficially adding to the cacophony mostly clueless of the substantive issues at hand.

This lack of consensus and resulting confusion drove us to writing this book. We selected the, The Objective Guide to Indexed and Fixed Annuities as our title, because we believe that “objectivity” creates clarity; clarity begets understanding; and understanding reveals truth. In seeking truth, we dispassionately sought the criticisms of annuity antagonists, and the praises of annuity proponents and subjected both to our most critical analysis that we share with you in the Chapters that follow.

Like a judge or jury, we deliberated point-by-point on the substance and veracity of the arguments of the respective camps, formulated our judgments, and reached our verdicts based solely upon which side had the most truthful, and therefore, in our view better arguments. If your primary goal is to protect your principal and guarantee that it will not be lost from market plunges while making as much income as you can over time in doing so, this book was written for you. We hope you will appreciate its evenhandedness and candor, and that you will be able to use its objectivity to help you determine whether or not a fixed or indexed annuity is suitable for your specific situation and your retirement and estate planning goals.

Robert A. Esperti
Renno L. Peterson
Patrick A. Jeffers