Start planning for a prosperous and fulfilling retirement. Annuities function in the opposite manner of life insurance, by providing you with a monthly income during your lifetime. An annuity is a contract regarded as an investment with an insurance company. They provide opportunities to liquidate accounts in the form of systematic payments. Annuity payments can be received over a specific number of years, in a lump sum, or in guaranteed payments for the rest of your life. Additionally, withdrawals are available, however, they many result in a surrender charge.