Article Title

Survivor Funds


This Article explains how to create “survivor funds”—short-term investment funds that would pay more to those investors who live until the end of the fund’s term than to those who die before then. For example, instead of just investing in a ten-year bond and dividing the proceeds among the investors at the end of the bond term, a survivor fund would invest in that ten-year bond but divide the proceeds only among those who survived the full ten years. These survivor funds would be attractive investments because the survivors would get a greater return on their investments, while the decedents, for obvious reasons, would not care. Survivor funds would work like short-term tontines.

Basically, a tontine is a financial product that combines features of an annuity and a lottery. In a simple tontine, a group of investors pools their money together to buy a portfolio of investments, and, as investors die, their shares are forfeited, often with the entire fund going to the last survivor. For example, imagine that ten 65-year-old men each contribute $1000 to a fund that buys a large diamond for $10,000 and that the men agree that the last “survivor will get the diamond. Accordingly, after the ninth man dies, the tenth man gets the diamond, and he can keep it or sell it. Of course, the survivor principle—that the share of each, at death, is enjoyed by the survivors—can be used to design financial products that would benefit multiple survivors, not just the last survivor. For example, elsewhere, we showed how tontines could be used to create so-called “tontine annuities” and “tontine pensions” that would benefit lots of retirees. In this Article, we show how the survivor principle can be used to create survivor funds that would only make payments to those who survive for a specified number of years.