An annuity is an investment vehicle that typically includes an insurance component. Because of this, annuities used to be sold only by insurance companies. However, in today's diverse financial marketplace you can purchase annuities through other channels, such as stockbrokers, financial institutions, and mutual fund companies. Annuities also are available via some employer-provided retirement plans.

Annuities generally appeal to investors looking for a less volatile investment option, since the product makes a series of regular payments to the owner. This ongoing income stream can be a nice addition to other retirement income.

Annuities also can be established to provide income not only to you and your heirs, but also to benefit a charitable organization. In such cases, you likely will get more of a tax benefit than with a noncharitable annuity arrangement.

General annuity attributes
Charitable annuity benefits

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