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Why do I need a pension advisor?

Admin : July 1, 2019 11:04 am : Articles, Blog, Pensions, Retirement, Retiring, Working Women

A pension advisor can support you on your journey to being in the best possible financial position come retirement.

 

What do we offer?

We offer you independent financial advice and can help to reduce the worry of not having any money when you retire. We will provide you with recommendations as well as guiding you towards being in a comfortable financial position later in life. We hope that by doing so as early as you possibly can, it will allow you to take your grandchildren on days out without having to constantly check your finances and avoid you being solely reliant on the state. No one wants the worry of whether or not you will still be able to afford your TV licence when you are aren’t as active as you used to be.

How can we help you?

Our pension review service is a process of which we undertake to ensure that your current pension pots are correct and fit for purpose. If, after the review has taken place, your pension is no longer of a necessary standard; then we would either look at moving them elsewhere or consolidating.

Having all your pensions under one system could also make it a lot easier to draw the money when you need to. It would mean that no longer have to manage several pension pots at one time as well as stopping the need for multiple annual statements. It may well also save you some money in fees!

What does that mean for you?

After undertaking a pension review you will be in a position to:

• understand the size of your current investments

• what you should be adding to it

• and what it could produce for you in later life

You will also know if it’s in the right place or not and where you should move it to if necessary. If you decide to go ahead with the advice and recommendations given during your pension review you will leave with a clear idea of exactly what your pensions look like and will have provided you with clarity instead of confusion!

During the pension review we will also provide you with some basic financial education and a simple understanding of the importance and different options when it comes to investing.

We are in the best possible position to explain all things pensions to our clients. We can help you through the whole process and take a lot of the stress away both before we make a recommendation and after. Allowing Evolution Financial Planning to deal with all the paperwork on your behalf; gives you the opportunity to just sit back, relax and look to the future!

We are constantly analysing data coming in from a clients pension provider and can review your pensions yearly. Performance will be maintained and monitored over a long term as standard however if there are any performance issues that we feel you need to be made aware of clients are written to as a matter of course under regulation. We too want to ensure you are safe and your money is safe at all times.

With our pension management service you never have to worry again about ensuring your pension is in the right place or its performance. Should your circumstances change since our most recent recommendation; we will be happy to conduct another review to ensure everything is still in the best possible place.

Our ongoing pension management service also includes the preparation of quarterly reports as well as dealing with everything administrative in relation to your pension. Pension management also gives clients the opportunity to contact us at anytime for advice.

How does a pension review work?

Want to know how our pension review service works? Check out this page for more information and our special offer below.

 

*Special offer* book your pension review by the 19 July 2019 and pay NOTHING! Click here for more details.

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Pension freedom

Admin : June 28, 2019 10:56 am : Articles, Blog, Pensions, Retirement, Retiring

Over one million UK savers embrace relaxation of rules

The Government’s announcement on the relaxation of pension rules changed the investment landscape and pension freedoms show no sign of losing their popularity.

HM Revenue & Customs latest figures[1] on the flexible withdrawals from pensions shows that the number of savers who have embraced their freedoms now exceeds one million (1.04 million).

Individual withdrawals A record-breaking sum of £7.83bn was withdrawn in 2018, up from £6.54bn in 2017. It is reported that there have been 5.49 million individual withdrawals since the pension freedoms were introduced in Q2 2015.

More than one million savers have embraced their new freedoms since 2015, and a record £7.83bn of taxable payments were withdrawn in 2018[2].

Dash-for-cash There is however no evidence of an uncontrolled “dash-for-cash”, as was feared by some when the freedoms were introduced. The 2018 figure of £7.83bn needs to be seen in the context of a total private pension wealth in the UK of approximately £5,000bn[3].

Withdrawal payments have also consistently averaged less than £4,000 since summer 2017, showing little evidence of savers rushing to buy Lamborghinis! These freedoms are attractive to younger savers too, with the research finding that one-third (33%) of under-35s believe this flexible access encourages them to put more money towards their pension[4].

Making the most of the pension freedoms

Understand your state pension The state pension continues to be most peoples’ biggest source of income in retirement. But the state pension and age at which you are entitled to this money is changing. Ask for a free state pension forecast to ensure you understand your entitlements – www.gov.uk/check-state-pension

Take your time You may have spent 40 years saving for your retirement. Take more than 40 minutes considering your options.

Consider your life expectancyPension savings are intended to last the rest of your life, yet we typically underestimate how many years we may live.

Approach final salary pensions with caution If you have a final salary pension you will need to transfer it elsewhere to access the freedoms.

This is a significant decision as you could lose significant benefits. Such a decision should be approached with caution, and you should obtain qualified professional financial advice.

Source data:[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/flexible-payments-from-pensions[2] This figure underplays the total amount withdrawn as it does not include any additional amounts taken as tax-free-cash.[3] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/-incomeandwealth/bulletins/wealthingreatbritainwave5/2014to2016#private-pensions-wealth[4] Aviva 2018 survey of 1,000 UK adults: “Would you put more money towards your pension if you were able to access the money more flexibly?”

A PENSION IS A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT.

THE FUND VALUE MAY FLUCTUATE AND CAN GO DOWN, WHICH WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE LEVEL OF PENSION BENEFITS AVAILABLE.

PENSIONS ARE NOT NORMALLY ACCESSIBLE UNTIL AGE 55. YOUR PENSION INCOME COULD ALSO BE AFFECTED BY INTEREST RATES AT THE TIME YOU TAKE YOUR BENEFITS. THE TAX IMPLICATIONS OF PENSION WITHDRAWALS WILL BE BASED ON YOUR INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES, TAX LEGISLATION AND REGULATION, WHICH ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE IN THE FUTURE.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT A RELIABLE INDICATOR OF FUTURE PERFORMANCE.

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Tracing a lost pension

Admin : June 26, 2019 10:53 am : Articles, Blog, Pensions, Protecting What Counts, Retirement, Retiring

Nearly £20 billion unclaimed money and growing

The scale of the UK’s lost pensions mountain has been exposed by the largest study yet on the subject[1]. The Pensions Policy Institute surveyed firms representing about 50% of the private defined contribution pensions market[2].

From this the Pensions Policy Institute found 800,000 lost pensions worth an estimated £9.7 billion. It estimates that, if scaled up to the whole market, there are collectively around 1.6 million pots worth £19.4 billion unclaimed – the equivalent of nearly £13,000 per pot.

Findings highlight the scale of the problem – This figure is likely to be even higher as the research did not look into lost pensions held in the public sector, or with trust-based schemes typically run by employers. These findings highlight the scale of the lost pensions problem. Unclaimed pensions can make a real difference to millions of savers who have simply lost touch with their pension providers.

Providers make considerable efforts and spend millions every year trying to reunite people with lost or forgotten pensions. In 2017 more than 375,000 attempts were made to contact clients, leading to £1 billion in assets being reunited with them. However, firms are unable to keep pace with a mobile workforce that moves jobs and homes more often than ever before. Prevention is better than cure, so be sure to keep all your pensions paperwork in one place. You should also tell your previous pension scheme administrator about any changes of address.

Number of people with multiple pensions to increase Nearly two-thirds of UK savers have more than one pension, and changing work patterns means that the number of people with multiple pensions will increase. People typically lose track of their pensions when changing jobs or moving home. The average person will have around 11 different jobs over their lifetime, and move home 8 times. The Government predicts that there could be as many as 50 million dormant and lost pensions by 2050.

If you have lost track of a pension its important to write down the dates and contact details of the companies you had pensions with. If you have all the information then you can contact the pension provider directly to find how much there is in your pension pot.

Tracking down unclaimed personal or workplace pensions Alternatively you can also contact the Pension Tracing Service. They will help you find the addresses and details you need and can help you locate or trace any pensions that you may have lost or misplaced.

You can also contact them to track down unclaimed personal or workplace pensions for deceased relatives. Its possible that their estate or a surviving partner or relative could be eligible to claim a percentage. The Pension Tracing Service telephone number is: 0800 731 0193 – from outside the UK: +44 (0)191 215 4491 – textphone: 0800 731 0176.

Source data:[1] The Association of British Insurers is the voice of the UK’s world leading insurance and long-term savings industry.[2] The Lost Pensions Survey includes data from 12 large insurers, covering around half of the defined contribution pensions market.

A PENSION IS A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT.

THE FUND VALUE MAY FLUCTUATE AND CAN GO DOWN, WHICH WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE LEVEL OF PENSION BENEFITS AVAILABLE.

PENSIONS ARE NOT NORMALLY ACCESSIBLE UNTIL AGE 55. YOUR PENSION INCOME COULD ALSO BE AFFECTED BY INTEREST RATES AT THE TIME YOU TAKE YOUR BENEFITS. THE TAX IMPLICATIONS OF PENSION WITHDRAWALS WILL BE BASED ON YOUR INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES, TAX LEGISLATION AND REGULATION, WHICH ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE IN THE FUTURE.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT A RELIABLE INDICATOR OF FUTURE PERFORMANCE.

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Pensions: why have one, what do they mean for your future and what is the alternative?

Rebecca Robertson : June 18, 2019 9:15 am : Articles, Blog, Entrepreneur, Financial Planning, Parents, Retirement, Retiring, Returning To Work, Saving and Investing, Working Women

The Office of National Statistics ONS, has revealed that just under 50% of people do not have any private pensions. This means that when they retire, they will be relying on the State or any investments they have to fund their income.

Pension companies are struggling to fund individuals’ retirements mainly due to an ageing population and low interest rates. Many schemes are in debt and others are generally underperforming. So is it worth getting a private pension, or should we look to save our money another way?

Why bother?

12% of people surveyed by the ONS said that they wish they had never taken out a pension because it is under performing and it won’t provide enough income in their retirement.

Reuters revealed that many pension schemes are in deficit, which means that they don’t have enough funds to pay out what they will finally own to their pension holders when they retire.

Pensions are money invested in the stock market, so depending on how good your fund manager is, your fund could even decrease if they make a poor judgement in their investment choices or their charges are high, or even if the stock market struggles. These are all risks that we all take in order to give us a good pot of money when we retire.

You have the control, you can transfer your pension into a better performing one, you can change your broker. You have the power to decide what stocks and shares your money will go into.

You’re not able to get to your money until retirement, so you have to wait before you can spend the money. This can be a good thing for some people who would be tempted to spend it before they retire and therefore leave themselves with nothing.

What type of pension to have?

Private pensions mean that you have to fund them yourself, but it is a secure form of paying for your retirement and you have total control over who you choose as a fund manager and where your money is held.

Employer pensions include the possibility of your employer contributing towards it too, with some even matching what you are putting in, which is an added bonus. However you do not have control over which company manages your funds.

All pensions are tax-efficient too, and if your payments come straight from your gross salary, you won’t pay any tax on them. If they don’t, you can still claim the tax back.

A pension also provides security. It’s a guaranteed income for the rest of your life once you retire. The State pension at present is not enough for most people to enjoy the lifestyle they would like and the age of retirement is much higher than a private pension.

Remember it is worth starting early. Many young people going into their first job will not even think about pension contributions, but with longer living and the State not being able to provide, it is worth taking the step of starting your pension early to build up a decent fund by the time you retire. Who knows what will happen in 30 years time, we may not even have a National Health system to rely on.

What are the alternatives?

There are other ways to save your money and some make more than others.

ISA

You can save up to £20000 per year in an ISA and you have the choice between an investment or a cash ISA depending on the level of risk you wish to take with your money. All interest you make is tax free and you have the choice to move it or take it out when you want.

Property

Property can be a good investment for the long term. The market can still suffer from dips in value which is a risk you take and you may have to pay tax on any profits you make. There are many different options to choose from therefore it’s important to seek advice before starting out on this journey.

Stock Market

Pension funds tend to be focused on more reliable investments which carry less risk than some stocks and shares. If you are happy to take the risk, you can make more dramatic returns on your investments if you do it yourself. It is worth doing your homework before deciding to go down this route as it carries high risk and the investments you choose can drop in value too.

So, a pension is still a very good way to save for your retirement and should be thought about as part of your saving strategy. It is worth getting good solid advice before making a decision. A financial advisor can help you choose what is right for you.

For information about savings, investments and pensions, contact us.

Interested in learning more about the pension options available to you? Would you like to be part of a group that aims to empower women to create wealth for themselves and their families? Well, the Money Mastery Collective Facebook Group is just for you. You can join here. A brand new Pension Challenge will be launching in the group on 1st July – don’t miss out, join us today and connect with like-minded women like yourself! 

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Could you be paying unnecessary tax on your State Pension?

Admin : June 4, 2019 11:03 am : Articles, Blog, Pensions, Retirement, Retiring

Half a million workers past pension age could be paying unnecessary tax

A significant number of people working past the state pension age could be paying unnecessary tax on their state pension, according to new research[1]. This is because they failed to take up the option of deferring their state pension until they stopped work. As a result, their entire state pension is being taxed, in some cases at 40%.

If they deferred taking their state pension they would also receive a higher pension when they do eventually retire, and their personal tax allowance would then cover all or most of their state pension, dramatically reducing the amount of tax they have to pay on their pension.

Those who defer their state pension can receive an extra 5.8% per year on their pension for the rest of their life for each year that they defer. Comparing someone who draws their state pension immediately whilst going on working, with someone who waits for a year until they have retired before drawing their state pension.

The research finds: A man who defers for a year and has an average life expectancy at 65 of 86 will be around £3,000 better off over retirement than someone who takes his state pension immediately and pays more tax.

A woman who defers for a year and has an average life expectancy at 65 of 88 will be around £4,000 better off, as well as the tax advantage, she also enjoys two extra years of pension at the higher rate.

All is not lost for those who have started to draw their state pension as they have the option of ‘un-retiring’ – they can tell the DWP to stop paying their state pension and then resume receiving it at a higher rate when they stop work.

There has been a significant increase in the number of people working past the age of 65, and the research identified that most of these people are claiming their state pension as soon as it is available. For around half a million workers, this means every penny of their state pension is being taxed, in some cases at the higher rate.

If an individuals earnings are enough to support them, it could make sense to consider deferring taking a state pension so that less of their pension disappears in tax. A typical woman could be around £4,000 better off over the course of her retirement by deferring for a year until she has stopped work, and a typical man could be £3,000 better off.

If you are worried about your state pension or retirement plans – speak to a financial adviser who can help talk you through the various options available to you.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________Source data:[1] Royal London Policy Paper 33 – ‘Are half a million people paying unnecessary tax on their state pension?’ is available from www.royallondon.com/policy-papers. The analysis is based on the Family Resources Survey for 2016/17 which is a representative sample of nearly 20,000 households from across the United Kingdom.

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Challenging A Will

Admin : May 17, 2019 10:00 am : Articles, Blog, Empty Nester, Estate Planning & Wills, Parents, Retiring, Working Women

How To Challenge a Will

– and Make Sure it Doesn’t happen to Yours.

Most people think that when they die, whatever they have written into their Will will be adhered to and acted upon as you wished. However this is now not the case and can have huge effects on families.

In England it is not mandatory to leave money to your children when you die, however a wife, husband or child has the right to go to court for a share of their relative’s estate if they have not been left anything in the Will. Scotland and Northern Ireland operates different systems.

Why are Wills challenged and when can they be challenged?

In today’s current tough economic climate and also the rise in second marriages have seen an increase in people willing to contest a Will. It’s not an easy process however as it is usually lengthy, expensive and emotionally scarring. At the end of the day there is also no guarantee that the person challenging will be successful.

There are only a small number of circumstances where you can challenge a Will in the UK.

The Will is invalid because

  • The person who owns the Will has been coerced or pressurised into writing something that they didn’t want or believe should happen
  • They did not have full mental capacity at the time of writing so they did not know what they were doing for example in the case of dementia
  • The Will was not signed or witnessed properly
  • Or a family member was not provided for

Husbands, wives, civil partners, children and other dependents can contest a Will if they haven’t been left anything or enough in the Will. This challenge comes under the Inheritance Act 1975 – Provision for Family and Dependents in England and Wales.

Rules are different in Scotland – click here for details

There are lots of different cases as to when someone may contest a Will. These can be for example

  • in the case of Step families when a parent dies after a short second marriage and leaves everything to the second wife and children leaving the first wife and children with nothing.
  • families who live far apart from each other or are emotionally distant from each other. A person may leave most of their assets to a carer or a neighbour or a charity and the family sometimes suspects that they have been put under pressure to make this decision.

I’ve not left anything to my children in my will, can they challenge it?

Once an appeal has arisen, the court will take a range of factors into consideration. Many appeals do not succeed. Paula Myers, who is the national Head of Wills Disputes at Irwin Mitchell says, “For a claim to succeed, adult children normally have to show they’ve been maintained financially – namely that they had received money from the parent while he or she was still alive.”

Therefore, it is possible for adult children to claim against their parent for not including them, but it doesn’t guarantee that they will get anything.

The courts take into consideration the current and future living standards of the adult child and make a decision whether what is stated in the Will is reasonable for them and their family.

The courts in England and Wales will intervene if

  • The Will affects a young child, the judge could rewrite the Will if they believed that a dependent was not being provided for.
  • The total assets of a Will was left to a charity or someone outside the family, the courts can intervene if they believe that the family members were not being provided for

In cases of family disputes and long standing disagreements, solicitors advise both sides to use Mediation to settle the contest of the Will as it is cheaper and can increase the chances of reaching an agreement.

Decisions can seem unfair in cases where one child gets more than another. One example of this comes from Paula James at Thomas Eggar who explains that in some cases parents will give a lot of money to one sibling throughout their lives, so to give balance, they leave more money to the other sibling in their Will.

In this case, “the child who’s received money throughout their adult life has a very good chance of making a claim precisely because they’ve not been financially independent.”

How can I make sure that my Will is not challenged?

In order for you to make sure that your legacy goes to the people it is intended for, there are a few things you can take into consideration to help ensure that this happens:

Talk about your Will

It can be hard to talk about death, it is still seen as a taboo subject in some families, and it is also difficult to talk about money, therefore to discuss a Will is not going to be easy. Also if you have family issues, it may be very difficult to talk anyway.

Work out who is likely to challenge your Will

English law dictates that you can leave your money to whoever you like. Scottish law says that you must leave a percentage of everything to your children and spouse excluding land and buildings. Within English law, your husband, civil partner or children or anyone else financially dependent upon you can challenge your Will. If you acknowledge this fact when you are thinking about who you wish to leave your money to, then it can save problems later on when you are gone.

Make sure your Will is watertight

Dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s. Your Will should be properly written, signed and witnessed. Witnessing is by two people who are not going to inherit or are married to anyone who will be due to inherit. Also get everyone together at the same time, so all sign and witness together.

Ensure that you have full mental capacity at the time of writing and that you can prove it

Any Will can be challenged if there is any reason to believe that the person who has drawn up the Will was not in control of their mental capacity at the time. It is worth getting a note from your GP or Consultant who can legally testify. It is a delicate matter especially for someone who has been diagnosed with dementia or if they are becoming confused. However, it is better to be safe than sorry and get the medical opinion so that the Will will stand the test of time.

If you don’t wish to go down this route, you can get the drawing up and signing of the Will videoed to prove that the person was acting under their own free will.

Solicitor’s notes

If you are getting the help of a solicitor, make sure that they write good notes in order that if anything is not understood, the solicitor can draw upon their notes to explain the point in question.

Do not be pressurised into anything

Ensure that you have meetings with your solicitor on your own. If you wish to have someone with you, make sure that its someone who is not due to benefit from the Will and can help with emotional support or if you are hard of hearing. A Will can be challenged if it can be proven that the person drawing up the Will was put under duress.

Leaving a letter

You can leave a ‘letter of wishes’ along with your Will in cases where you are making a change to a current Will because of changes in your personal circumstances, say a new marriage. This letter is read out by your Executors and is helpful to explain your feelings and why your assets will be left to certain people and not to others. You can leave a separate letter to those you are excluding to be sent to them on your death to explain your decisions. This is useful in situations where you are estranged from a relative who would normally stand to benefit.

Future proof your Will

Write your Will in a way that will accommodate new changes, for example in the case of Grandchildren or Godchildren, you can decide to only give to those who were alive at the time you wrote the will, or to give to all of them who are alive at the time of your death.

It is always worth getting professional advice when it comes to writing your Will in order that you can be sure you are providing for your loved ones. With the right advice you can even reduce your inheritance tax and avoid any issues of your Will being invalid because you didn’t write it correctly and there are many common mistakes that have been made by people writing their own Wills. If you haven’t made a Will already, it is worth thinking about it now.

If you are worried about your will – speak to a financial adviser who can make sure it meets the criteria we have set out.

If you found this article useful, click here for Writing A Will For Your Family

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How to write your will so that your family actually gets what you want to give them and how to avoid common mistakes

Rebecca Robertson : May 14, 2019 10:00 am : Articles, Blog, Estate Planning & Wills, Parents, Returning To Work, Starting A Family

Plenty of people tell you to make a will especially when you have children, they say, make a will before it’s too late so you can protect your family. However not many people tell you what you need to write and how to write it, so experts are now saying that a badly written will can be just as bad as no will at all.

Surely most people have a will?

Only 40% of us in the UK have a will and now research shows that 1 in 4 people who have made a will could end up giving their family a nightmare when they pass on. Engage Mutual has discovered that many people have already fallen out over a will.

Saga Legal Services commissioned a study which found that 25% of people wrote their will without any use of a legal professional, another 20% bought one from a shop or downloaded one online and a further 5% just wrote something on a piece of paper without any consideration or research. Of the ones that that did a will themselves around 37% thought that it was cheaper than hiring someone, 25% thought it would be quicker and 20% didn’t want anyone to know about their assets.

So why will this affect me?

If you have a small nuclear family with little assets and you have followed the instructions to the letter you may not have a problem and get a cheap and effective will after all. However if your family is more complicated, you have very specific wishes or if you have more to leave behind you may leave your family with a headache.

The research showed that one in fourteen people have had problems with a DIY will and out of these 46% have said that it led to family arguments while 39% said that it made probate take longer.

What are your options when making a Will?

DIY – it is a fact that more Wills fail or are challenged when they have been done by a well-meaning amateur – you know what you want to do, but can you interpret that onto paper so that the law also knows and understands what you want. In todays world of more complex families, higher divorce rate, more couples living together, same sex relationships, the list goes on, do you really know the ramifications when it comes to former spouses, children, step children and anyone who considers themselves dependent on you and the challenges that can be brought against your estate at a time when you are unable to argue back.

Use a professional – I’m not going into the where’s and why-for’s when it comes to whether using a solicitor is better than a professional Will Writer, simply that whoever you choose as a professional, ensure that they have the right qualifications and in the unlikely event of a complaint it will be dealt fairly and swiftly, i.e. they have the support and backing of a recognised body.

Using a professional Will Writer, ensures that the person who is attending to you, will know and understand your needs and have the necessary expertise to advise you properly on how your Will should look and how it will work, especially if your estate is complex – although few people believe theirs are as they start the conversation with “I only need a simple Will!”.

What are the mistakes that can be made?

Here are some of the most common mistakes that have caused family heartache:

Future planning

Most people writing their will don’t think about the future. For example if you want to leave something to your grandchildren, if you name them in the will and then one is born between you writing your will and you passing on, they will not receive anything unless you word it so that future grandchildren yet to be born are to be included.

Specifics

You could come unstuck if you start mentioning specific sums of money. You need to have a very good idea of how much you will have in your estate and that the value will not change much between you writing the will and your passing. If you have under estimated there may not be enough money in the pot to pay everyone the amount you want to give, if you have over estimated each person may received a much larger percentage of your estate than you thought that you were going to give to them.

‘I’s and ‘t’s

If you are not totally clear what you wish to happen, the there is a possibility that your request could be misinterpreted and your family may fall out due to ‘chinese whispers’.

There could be problems if you do not follow the strict rules for signing and witnessing the will it could become null and void so pretty much useless.

Appearance

This could be simply the way that the will has been put together. If it is not done up properly someone may claim that it has been tampered with, or there are pages missing. This may mean that it could take longer to go through probate.

What can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen?

Get a professional to either go through the whole thing for you, or look over it once you have written it. Emma Myers who is Head of Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning at Saga Legal Services says, “Having your DIY Will reviewed gives you piece of mind that is fit for purpose and gives you the chance to correct any mistakes before it’s too late.”

In the case where a Will is judged null and void the estate of the Will holder will be dealt with by the courts under the rules of Intestacy as if they had died without making a Will at all.

Intestacy Rules are very strict and the Government decides who inherits your estate in a specific order without any consideration for your wishes, starting with your spouse or civil partner, then:

  • Your children, grand children and any great grand children.
  • Any surviving parents
  • Brothers, sisters and/or their children
  • Half brothers, sisters and/or their children
  • Surviving Grandparents
  • Uncles, Aunts and/or their children
  • Half Uncles, Aunts and/or their children
  • The Crown or Duchy of Cornwall or Lancaster

The rules also give control of your estate to those who will immediately benefit from it, and that may be to people who you do not want included.

If your Will is deemed valid but some of the wording is wrong or unclear, then your loved ones will end up having to go to court and have them making the decision about how the estate is distributed rather than what was written in the Will.

Whatever way you wrote your Will, whether DIY or by a professional, it is important to review it regularly, especially if you or your family circumstances change, so that it still is valid and relevant for you.

There are also some actions you can take to help you make a Will that won’t be argued about or taken to court over and I’ll go through them here to help you, especially as according to Engage Mutual, 17% of families have already fallen out over a Will of some kind and I’m sure you don’t want to add to that percentage.

Conversations

When you start thinking about making a Will, it’s worth writing out what you wish to do and then talking to your family about your wishes so that they are aware and prepared for what your intentions are. It is here when you candidly tell your family why you want to spend some of their inheritance once you retire or why you are leaving more money to one than another because you have already given the other their share to buy a house last year. These conversations allow families to discuss any objections and sort them out before you even go to your solicitor to have the Will finally drawn up.

National Savings and Investments (NS&I) say that around 36% of people whose parents are still alive have no idea whether they have made a Will or not and what they intend to do with their estate.

Do it by the book

Ensure that when you come to write a Will that you follow the instructions to the letter. This stops anyone from saying to a court that the Will is incorrect or void because you were under influence when you wrote it or that no one witnessed your signature.

What makes a valid Will?

  • It needs to be in writing.
  • You must appoint an Executor who is someone that will carry out your wishes and distribute your estate properly.
  • It must be signed by you (you are called the Testator). If you cannot sign, it must be signed on your behalf in your presence and by your say so.
  • It must be witnessed by two individuals who must also sign at the same time and in the presence of you.

Witnesses:

  • A witness can be someone who is ages 18 or over, is not blind and is capable of understanding what is going on and what the consequences are of what they are doing.
  • You cannot have a witness who would be a beneficiary of the Will or is married to or is the civil partner of a beneficiary in these cases the beneficiaries would not get their share but the Will would still remain valid.

Don’t rush anything

The saddest thing about Wills is that they can become a tool to use for family members to take revenge or over-power siblings or other family members and that can lead to terrible family breakups. Engage Mutual have stated that 3.5 million people in the UK have changed their Will within the last 2 years and the most common reason is family arguments.

People are starting to anticipate arguments over who should get more and around 15% of people are worried that these problems will come from them leaving some money to friends rather than family.

In this instance it’s worth having the conversation now and seeing if you can explain why you are making the decisions you are and whether you can even things up a bit.

So in a nutshell, it’s worth getting some advice from a professional even if you want to do things yourself to save money as you could be leaving your loved ones with a battle on their hands if you get something wrong. If you think about the assets you are leaving to your loved ones, paying a small fee for a professional Will is not a lot in comparison.

If you are worried about your will or need advice around creating one – speak to a financial adviser who can make sure it meets the criteria required.  Prices start from just £98.00.

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Childcare Options for Working Mums

Rebecca Robertson : April 9, 2019 1:11 pm : Articles, Blog, Parents, Returning To Work, Starting A Family, Starting Out, Working Women

Please note: this article is for information only and is not an expression on any one persons opinion. Research was carried out however this doesn’t cover every area of the country. For further information please refer to https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/childcare-costs or for regulated matters refer to https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted

Returning to work after children:

When returning to part-time or full-time work after having children, many women are faced with an endless amount of childcare choices and costs which can make it really difficult to make a decision. For very young children, the choice of childcare options includes nursery, childminders, nannies, shared nannies, au pairs and of course relatives. Then, when a child turns three they have the added option of pre-school and an entitlement of 15 hours and then once at school age, working parents often need to consider breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, after-school childminders or nannies and possible help with the school run in addition to help over the holidays. With so many options to choose from and so much juggling involved, it is no wonder that parents get confused and wonder whether it is even worth them going back to work!

Nursery option:

Childcare costs obviously depend on the area where you live but within London and the surrounding areas you can expect to pay between £55-£65 for a full day at nursery (8am-6pm), which will usually include breakfast, lunch and snacks, or around £30-£35 for a half day. The cost goes down the older the child gets and there may be a sibling discount in place if you have more than one child in the same nursery. There are many reasons for parents choosing the nursery option, a key reason is that fact that nurseries will always be open and even if a key worker was ill or on holiday, there would always be someone else in the team who could look after the child. Many also like the social side of a larger number of peers for their child to interact with. There are different types of nurseries to choose from – including mainstream, Montessori and Steiner – so you need to choose the one that’s right for you and your child.

In addition to the basic nursery cost there may be extra charges for ‘extra curricular’ classes that some nurseries run which many mums fork out for to ensure that their child isn’t the one missing out. Some nurseries may charge extra for breakfast club if you need to drop your child off early. On top of that, some nurseries charge a late fee if parents fail to arrive by the strict 6pm pick-up time! While some charge £1 for every minute a parent is late by, others will charge a set fine of £20 (per child!) the minute you are late through the door to collect your child.

The childminder choice:

Child minders provide a home from home environment. They follow the EYFS and are registered and inspected by ofsted. They plan fun, educational activities for the children and have the unique ability to plan for the individual child’s interests or stage of development due to a more one on one interaction. They are able to be more flexible with opening and closing times and can often do those little favors of opening early or closing late on those odd occasions. Depending on where you are in the country, They charge from around £3.50 up to £7 an hour. They can provide the government funded hours for 2 year olds and 3-4 year olds. Some childminders work term time only but the majority work all year round. Obviously there are some negatives (for some people) if  your child minder is unwell or their child is unwell they need to close so the parents will need to make other plans or take the day off work. Also when they take my holidays, the parents will need to take the same dates or arrange other childcare.

Is it a nanny you need?

Parents wanting someone to come and look after their children in their own home and keep to their routine will need to hire a nanny. You have the choice of going through an agency or finding one independently, either through advertising or word-of-mouth. You can expect to pay from £8 an hour depending on the number of children. If you employ a nanny you also have to pay their tax, NI and expenses such as petrol. You would also need to pay the nanny agency to arrange payslips or use ‘taxingnannies’ so it can add up financially.

If you are looking for a full-time nanny then you have the option of a ‘live-in’ or ‘live-out’ nanny. Live-in nannies usually work an 11-12 hour day Monday to Friday, including two nights babysitting duties. Nannies living in your home will take sole charge of your children and perform nursery duties such as cooking meals for the children and cleaning up in the kitchen afterwards, tidying away toys, doing the children’s washing and ironing. Housekeeping duties for the rest of the house would not normally be carried out by a nanny. A full-time live-out or daily nanny would normally work 10 hours each week day taking care of all your child’s needs during that time.

There are also male nannies or ‘mannies’, bilingual nannies, holiday nannies, nanny shares and after school nannies. A part-time after school nanny will mean that you only pay for the hours you require if you work part-time, need ad-hoc extra childcare or need help once your children start school and usually charge around £8 an hour upwards. If you choose to share a nanny with another family then they will charge from £12 an hour upwards depending on how many children and the expectations from each family.

Going down the au pair route:

If both parents work full-time and the children are at school age, many families often go down the au pair route which involves an additional adult living with you at home. Financially, this will mean higher living costs as they will be entitled to free board and lodging at your home, paid holidays and sick leave, and you would also have to pay them pocket money each week. According to the Home Office, au pairs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should receive around £70-£85 per week for approximately 30 hours per week, including babysitting. While the au pair’s primary responsibility is to help you look after your children they may also help out with light household chores as part of their duties.

Possibility of pre-school once three:

All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year. This is usually taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year. The free early education and childcare can be at: all types of nurseries and nursery classes, playgroups and pre-school, childminders and Sure Start Children’s Centres.

Many children begin to attend pre-school at this age while others continue at their current nursery. If attending a pre-school, parents fill out the necessary forms and then the school applies for the funding meaning that there is no outlay of cost involved for the parents. Pre-schools are open during school term-time hours so you can pay an additional £2-£3 a day if you would like your child to attend lunch club and you can also pay for extra morning or afternoon sessions on top of the 15 hour allowance.

While many nurseries do accept the government-funding, it only covers £3.60 per hour of a nursery placement and isn’t enough to cover the £6 or so hourly rate that nurseries charge. In some cases, parents need to pay for the ‘free’ hours in advance and are then later refunded once the nursery has received the funds from the government at the end of the term meaning an outlay of £740 to account for.  Nurseries will also charge extra for breakfast clubs and lunches and non-term time weeks so it is important to get a full breakdown of all costs involved.

Some 2 year olds are also eligible to get free early education and childcare if their parents are on specific benefits, if they are in care, have a statement of Special Education Needs or receive a Disability Living Allowance.

Even more costs…

So, you’ve decided to return to work – a big enough decision alone – and you’ve chosen the childcare option that’s right for you and makes sense financially. Now it’s time to consider the travel costs, which can again make things challenging! Many full-time mums may pay a premium if they select a more expensive nursery in close proximity to a station in order to get to work for 9am. If driving to nursery and then travelling by train there will also be a daily parking charge to consider in addition to petrol costs on top of the train fare. If driving to work, you will need to budget for fuel.

Mums returning to work also need to factor in the cost of work lunches, work clothes, shoes, haircuts and expenses. Many mums manage financially with one child but the cost of two in childcare often means that they aren’t much better off. If after tax and all the extra costs you are only bringing home an extra £100-£200 a month then it may not be worth it financially.

Then they start school:

So, your child has started school and you can stop paying the expensive childcare fees. Phew! But, if you’ve survived all the above costs and are still (enjoying life as) a full-time working parent then you may need to consider dropping your child off for breakfast club and putting them into after-school club. Breakfast clubs can start from 7.30am and will cost between £4-£5 a day while you can expect to pay between £7-£10 a day for after-school clubs which run until 6pm. However, not all schools run these so if you don’t have this option then you may need to hire help for either the morning school run, after school pick-up or both… if you have grandparents nearby and willing to help then you are lucky, otherwise, as mentioned above, a childminder or part-time nanny option is probably your best bet if you are able to find someone you are happy with.

Some schools now ask for a ‘voluntary’ contribution which can be up to £100 a month to help the school fund things. Then of course there are costs associated with school trips, charity events, purchasing school photos and school dinners (currently free for years R, 1 and 2).

School holiday childcare:

Some parents take it in turns to take annual leave so that they don’t fork out for childcare costs during the school holidays. If you won’t be able to take annual leave during the holidays then you will also need to budget for care out of term-time. Some schools run holiday clubs for part of the summer and during half terms which can cost around £20 a day. Many of these don’t run during the Christmas holidays though so you will need to take the holiday or find an alternative type of childcare.

The emotional cost:

Many mums struggle with constant feelings of guilt. They feel guilty that they’re not putting in the hours at work and feel guilty about not spending more time with the children. It can also be hard to ease back into work after being off for a while. In order to get to work on time mums need to factor in road traffic, tube delays, bad weather and reluctant kids who want to stay at home and play!  Then, to collect their children they have to leave work early or at 5pm on the dot and rush back to pick them up. Some families manage to split the drop offs and pick-ups which can be really helpful and mean they can both complete a full day’s work and keep their employers happy!

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Long-term saving could yield a £1m retirement pot for some millennials

Admin : July 10, 2018 11:00 am : Articles, Pensions, Retirement, Saving and Investing
The millennial generation don’t just spend their hard earned savings on smashed avocado and flat whites, but they do have a different attitude to money than older generations. In fact, some young people today or in future generations could accumulate a pension pot as high as £1 million[1] when they come to retire through a combination of higher earnings, a generous workplace pension and several decades of saving, according to new research.

The study was carried out in conjunction with the Pensions Policy Institute to look at what level of retirement pots younger and future generations could expect, based upon the current and proposed model for automatic enrolment. A 22-year-old median earner (peak earnings of circa £30,000 at age 40) in 2017 may be able to build up a pension pot of £108,000 with minimum scheme contributions levels. Those with higher earnings and in a more generous workplace scheme could build up a substantially bigger sum.

Reducing the age limit
The study also found that changes proposed in the Department for Work & Pensions’ Automatic Enrolment Review, including reducing the age limit and removing the lower limit of eligible salary, could lead to a 32% increase in fund size for a median earner who starts saving at age 18.

The impact of the introduction of automatic enrolment on future generations focused on young people who were aged 22–35 by the end of 2017 – i.e. those who entered the workforce during the initial implementation of auto enrolment in October 2012 and the first generation likely to spend their entire working life in pension schemes into which they were auto enrolled.

Automatic enrolment has almost doubled the participation of 22-29-year-olds saving into pensions, according to the research.

Using four hypothetical individuals in the younger age group with different salary circumstances, the research shows how:
Stopping saving – even close to retirement – can significantly damage retirement outcomes
A wide range of possible pension pot values can result, depending on the quality of the workplace scheme and the level of contributions made by employer and employee
The triple lock has a proportionally larger impact on lower-earning millennials than higher earners

Improving financial futures
The research demonstrates that bringing people into savings at a younger age and increasing the contributions made can significantly improve their financial futures. Now that nearly 10 million people have been auto enrolled into a workplace pension, we’ve moved to a stage where it’s time for savers to think about what they’ll get back at retirement and consider any additional steps they may want to take along the way to build up their life savings.

Millennials are likely to be the first generation to benefit fully from the introduction of automatic enrolment, with the opportunity to have an employer contribution and government contribution paid into a workplace pension scheme throughout their working life. This means that automatic enrolment has the potential to make a significant difference to later life for millennials, providing more options and a more secure foundation for funding retirement.

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Source data:
[1] Based upon an example of a female saving from 18 to State Pension Age into a workplace pension contributing 16% of total earnings, deemed to be a 90th percentile earner (peak earnings of circa £49,000 at age 40). All figures in the research are in 2017 earnings terms.

PENSIONS ARE A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT.

THE RETIREMENT BENEFITS YOU RECEIVE FROM YOUR PENSION PLAN WILL DEPEND ON A NUMBER OF FACTORS INCLUDING THE VALUE OF YOUR PLAN WHEN YOU DECIDE TO TAKE YOUR BENEFITS, WHICH ISN’T GUARANTEED, AND CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP.

THE VALUE OF YOUR PLAN COULD FALL BELOW THE AMOUNT(S) PAID IN.

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Changing Financial Habits

Admin : June 8, 2018 2:08 pm : Articles, Financial Advice, Financial Planning

Admit it! You are over spending on worthless ‘stuff’ and don’t have a clue where it all goes?!

Yes, so many people feel like this!!! I really can’t tell you have many people have said this to me. “I don’t know where it all goes?”

STOP SPENDING… that’s it!! Just stop… That’s the answer…

This is easy to say and much harder to do, yet, there are some really easy things you can do to save money. Remember the old saying, ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank or how well you budget, most people overspend even with the best intentions.

So this is where we have to change our habits, habits which have been built up over years and also passed down from our parents.

What is a habit? It’s something that you don’t think about, something that you see as part of your daily routine, but may be completely unnecessary to your health and wellbeing even if you enjoy it. It can also be something that you used to do with old friends, and now you have moved on, you still do it because it’s what you always have done.

Here we are trying to help you change old habits and make new ones which will save money rather than spend it. A bit of focus and thinking before you buy, can help you keep the money in the bank at the end of every month.

So, to start with, you need to track what you are spending, this can be enlightening as most people don’t track what they buy throughout the month and are then surprised that they are in the red at the end of the month. Start making a list of everything you spend. This will then tell you what is unnecessary and what a habit is.

How do you change a habit?

According to leading psychologists, it takes 21 days to change a habit. This is a generalisation and it doesn’t take into account how long you have had the habit for and how hard it could be to break. It does however give us a starting point and proves that it takes time to break an old habit and form a new one, so basically, don’t expect things to change overnight!

The next important thing to realise, is that you can’t change them all at once. For starters you will get burnt out and bored and stop everything, and secondly, you get into overwhelm, which can be even worse as you cling on to the old habits to give yourself comfort! Also, make small changes, something huge will send you into panic mode and that will stop you in your tracks.

We form habits for a reason. So start to look at the reasons why you have your current habits. Once you see the emotional and sensory triggers behind your habits, you can then start to look at ways to replace those old habits with new ones that are perfectly able to give you the response that you desire, but are also helping you keep the money in your pocket at the same time.

Make the new habit easy for yourself. Having things in handy places at home, or shift your workplace around to make it easier for you to put the new habit in place. In return, make the old habit hard, so make sure there is no spare change in your pocket, or move money about in your accounts so that you can’t spend that money. Also, give yourself little reminders, such as a note in your purse to ask yourself ‘do you really need that’, or a reward chart for the kids to turn the lights off when they leave their bedrooms.

If you falter, don’t panic, just tell yourself that tomorrow will be better. Maybe ask one of your friends to watch out for you and distract you!

spending habits

Why are you wasting so much money? 

So we have changed our habits, yet we still don’t know much about our money. What do we need to learn to improve how our money grows?

Your financial intelligence is all about knowing how money works, what the government decides on law to do with the regulation of investment and what the law states for business. So if you don’t understand the laws and rules that are relevant to the finances you have in place then how will you know whether you are getting any return or profit on your savings or investments. Havingsome financial intelligence allows you to create a better plan for your money so that what you have will grow more effectively and what you intend on having will actually happen.

So, we may now have some disposable income and some savings, but are they really working for us? Are they moving us towards our goals in life or business? We have a mortgage but is it in best place?

Look at short and long term debt

A long term debt would be your mortgage, usually taken over a period of around 20 years, your working lifetime. A short term debt could be a loan for a new sofa or a car over a period of 2 or 3 years. If you look at the interest rates you are paying you will notice that normally the mortgage will be at a much lower percentage than the short term loans.

What does this mean for financial management? Well when you get to a point that you can start paying off debt, look at short term debt first to get rid of them and then tackle the long term debt a bit at a time. You will get rid of the debt that is charging you the most interest, which will give you more substantial disposable income to start paying off the long term debt more quickly than you would have done before.

Create a plan to move forward with

Having a plan gives you a focus and allows you to create goals of where you want to be financially over time. Maybe you want to be debt free in five years, then write a plan of how you are going to achieve that.

Think about where you want your money to be in five or ten years’ time? Is it in your children’s trust funds, in your pension or paying off credit? Which would you choose?

Get the basic’s right first

Looking at your general spending, what is going out each month is a major and important step. It sounds so simple but often the basic simple stuff is what matters. Will you do it through? Will you put the time aside to achieve the basics? Without the foundation, we aren’t able to build a strong position.

Let me help you a little by giving you this free spending guide on ‘Practical examples of changing habits to save money’ providing you with a number of practical ideas to help save those pennies.  Plus as an added bonus when you download the guide, you’ll also receive the check list of outgoings. This check list will list all the possible outgoings to make a note of and review. Make a note of any review dates and see what needs adjusting or cancelling. When you download this handy checklist and guide, we will also add you to the mailing list to receive further emails to help you change your spending habits for good….

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