In addition to the maturity guarantee, segregated funds offer a guaranteed death benefit. Should you die before the contract matures, your heirs will receive the segregated fund's market value or, if higher, the guaranteed minimum.

The ability to designate a beneficiary on non-registered segregated funds makes them particularly valuable for same-sex couples. This allows proceeds from segregated funds held both inside and outside of an RSP or RIF to avoid probate costs, since they are generally not considered part of the deceased person's estate.

Estate bypass i.e. avoiding probate will, however, both speed up payment to beneficaries and keep the amount left to loved ones from being disclosed to the public or to the deceased family.

Once you have decided whether segregated funds are right for you, your decisions are not over. Whether you choose segregated funds, regular mutual funds or a combination of both, the next step is to examine your objectives, time horizon and tolerance for variability of returns. Once you know your personal investment profile, you can work with your financial advisor to design a portfolio that has the right mix of funds to allow you to achieve your goals within the context of an overall financial plan.

This page is part of the GayFinance series.