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    What to look for in an annuity

    Look for low-cost, single-premium life income annuities. An immediate annuity will begin payouts within 12 months; a deferred annuity will begin paying at a later date.

    Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. That means getting multiple quotes for annuities offering the exact same terms.

    Price out the options. See how income payments change if you buy a joint-life instead of a single-life annuity. Then run the numbers for inflation-adjusted products and those that guarantee a minimum 10-year payout.

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    Don’t buy all at once. And don’t be afraid to diversify your portfolio by buying annuities with different features at different times.

    Remember, annuities — like FDIC-protected bank accounts — are guaranteed. In Massachusetts, that protection is limited to $100,000 of the present value of ­annuity benefits per person per insurance company.