It’s always a relief to pick up the phone with a query and know it will be sorted.
A recent report by Zurich has revealed that an alarming number of retirees are at risk of later life ‘financial crisis’ as they have not put a lasting power of attorney in place.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that gives a trusted friend, relative or professional the ability to manage your finances when you are no longer capable of doing so. Without having one in place means even next-of-kin would be forced to apply to the courts to take charge of a relative’s finances should they fall ill.
In the last few weeks, I’ve heard of cases where individuals have been victims of scams, either online or via telephone calls. It’s disheartening to hear of these cases as, not only is there often a financial implication to this despicable action, but often it can leave the victim feeling helpless and hopeless.
The financial year end is approaching once again and like a game of swing ball if you turn your back for a second you could get a nasty shock.
This year pensions are particularly in focus as the ability to carry forward a £50,000 gross contribution allowance applies for the very last time (that is unless there is an increased allowance in the future). This makes the maximum unused contribution possible £170,000.
From 6th April 2017, the annual allowance at £40,000 will apply to the new financial year and for previous year’s carry forward calculations. This means a reduction in the pension contribution tax relief available of up to £4,500.
The Government has proposed a new tiered system of probate fees in England and Wales, based on the value of the deceased's estate.
Probate fees are due when the executor of an estate applies for a Grant of Probate. This is necessary to gather in estate assets and distribute them to beneficiaries as directed by the deceased's will. It can only be avoided where assets pass exclusively from one partner to another, or an estate is worth less than £5,000.
Currently, probate fees are £215 per personal application, irrespective of the size of the estate concerned. For applications made through a solicitor, the rate is set at £155. Under new rules proposed by the Government, the system of probate fees would change, to one based on the value of the deceased's estate.
Whilst the minimum level on which probate must be applied for will increase to £50,000, the proposed charge for estates of £2 million or more, will increase to a flat rate of £20,000 with no tiering. This will result in the Government increasing the proposed revenue from probate applications from £46 million to in excess of £300 million, seen by many as a stealth tax.
At BFP, we have always placed a high level of emphasis in working closely with our clients’ other professional advisers. We believe it’s essential to be able to bring together all of the components necessary for comprehensive Financial Planning to ensure best advice in any of the disciplines, be that legal, accounting or fund management.
The importance of this approach was recently highlighted in a case brought about in Leeds County Court.
The case involved a financial adviser who had successfully defended a claim brought by two relatives of his, now deceased, client on the grounds that he failed to tell the client that a loan trust he set up for her would form part of her taxable estate at death. The judge decided that the financial advisor did not have a duty of care to the claimants, as he had not been involved in the will-making process.
As we grow older, we gain not just wrinkles and grey hair but knowledge and wisdom with the benefit of hindsight.
But if you could write a letter to yourself in the past, what would you tell yourself to do differently?
That was the question posed to pensioners in a recent survey, who revealed the events of the past - or the events that didn’t happen - that cause them the biggest regret in life.
These findings, published by Nationwide Building Society Savings, were polled from a group of male and female septuagenarians who are both retired and working.
Here are the four big things they wished they could go back in time to amend:
The intention of the different articles produced by BFP is that they should vary between Technical and Lifestyle. Those about lifestyle consider the wider connotations of Financial Planning. The sort of things that, heaven forbid, you might find yourself discussing with friends round the dinner table or ‘down the pub’.
For some of us it is the same story every year. The gym membership we’ve never used, the language course we’ve never finished, and the chocolate ban that’s broken after just a few weeks (or sometimes even days).
However, recent research has highlighted that 75% of today’s retirees aged 65-75 had a bucket list of things that they wanted to do now they were retired. The lists included:
For most people, choosing someone to administer their estate on death is an easy decision. Frequently, family members or friends will be chosen because of their personal connection to the subject in question, their perceived experience in these matters and their pragmatic approach to life. In addition, if a partner is around, they normally all “get on”.
Many of our clients already make regular gifts to family, friends or charities in order to either fulfil their philanthropic goals or aim to reduce their taxable estate on death.
The discussion over making gifts regularly forms part of our annual discussions and we have highlighted some of the key areas ..
As part of our annual reviews with clients we review their pensions and their ISAs, but if for any reason you have not taken advantage of these tax efficient investments for the tax year 2014/2015 it is well worth remembering the improvements that have been made recently.
Financial Planning is not just about managing investments. It’s a Financial Planner’s role to keep you in touch with many other aspects of your life that might have a bearing on the efficient running of your finances, the potential advantages you might miss and the traps that can await the unwary or ill-prepared.