Annuities promise some pretty amazing things including a lifetime of income for you and your partner. They also carry some very sizable fees. There are some benefits, such as no maximums on annual contributions and tax deferral, but they aren’t right for a lot of investors. What is an Annuity and How Do I Get Out of One? An annuity is a contractual agreement with an insurance company. You invest money with the company and they agree to pay you a specific amount of money over your life. Like most investments, you give up some money now and the insurance company will pay you later. Most people who own an annuity with an IRA are seeking a new investment plan for those retirement dollars. Dumping annuities is harder to do than selling mutual funds or stocks. Which is a problem for those people who are realizing that their annuity isn’t working for them they want had hoped. Cancelling Annuities: Beware the Surrender Penalty You can cancel your annuity, but will be subject to a surrender penalty. There is no way around it. You get penalized if you take out your investment early, so short of taking a hefty financial hit, you have to wait for the time to elapse. During this surrender period they penalty usually will go down. It can as high as 10% at ten years, but the penalty will decrease by 1% a year until it reaches 0. Like so many things retirement related, you may have to practice some patience again unless you think an alternative investment is really worth taking the loss. If you do bite the bullet and cancel, your funds need to stay within your IRA to avoid taxes and penalties with the IRS. You could get smacked with a double whammy here so keep that money where it’s going to grow. A lot of people have found themselves stuck with annuities that aren’t working for them. It’s not an easy choice to make, but if you think it’s worth it, you can get out. Follow these tips to mitigate the loss if you want to increase the return on your investment. Bottom Line: Know What You’re Investing In In the future, make sure you understand an investment before you make it. If you’re unsure of an investment, there are a number of questions to ask about potential investments. Doing your homework can save you a lot of money and grief. When in doubt, get an opinion from a qualified expert now so you won’t regret your investment later.