Purchased life annuity

Also known as an immediate annuity, this type of contract provides, in return for a single premium, an annual payment starting immediately and continuing for the rest of the annuitantís life.

Annuities can be on a single life or joint lives, most usually husband and wife. These policies are particularly popular for retired people who want a guaranteed income for as long as they live. They may be bought with the tax free cash available from a personal pension on retirement.

Where an annuity is being used to provide retirement income for a married couple, it would not be advisable to have a single life annuity, because if the annuitant died first, payments would cease and the surviving spouse would be left with nothing. This has led to joint life last survivor annuities. These contracts pay an annuity for the joint lifetimes of the two annuitants. Payments usually continue in full after the first death, but sometimes reduce by a set amount, say a third.