Seven financial planning imperatives
I am bound to say this but it is always good to make time and a very good idea to review your financial planning.
However, time available is often short and the inclination to sit down and review your situation can be daunting. However, here are seven quick checks that you can make on your own situation before deciding to get a wealth manager or solicitor involved.
Nothing particularly new here I feel that these issues are well worth being brought up from time to time.
1. Review your pension plans
Things are changing this year with lots of new freedoms coming along in terms of retirement options and it everyone would be well served to ensure that they have made careful consideration of their pension plans, planning and are fully aware of what will be available in terms of their pension investment strategy and for those closer to retirement their withdrawal and retirement strategies. It is worth noting that the amount that those saving for retirement can put into their pensions has been drastically curtailed in recent years and there is now a very strong possibility that in exchange for the new freedoms that higher rate tax relief on pensions may be reduced or even withdrawn.
2. Review your family protection
Things change, loans get taken out or paid off, death in service benefits change when we move jobs. Kids come along or leave home. All good reasons to ensure that you take a quick look at the levels of family protection and life assurance you currently have on a regular basis. It is worth noting that the costs associated with this type of cover have fallen in recent years so if nothing else it is worth checking to see if you can get your current cover on a cheaper basis.
3. Review your will
Just how long ago was it that you made your will? It is very likely that your personal circumstances changed since then. Children grow up, they get married. Divorce, re-marriage, not just us but of our children can all make significant changes to how you wish to leave monies through your will. It is not always appreciate that a marriage has the effect of revoking an existing will in its entirety. However, strangely perhaps, divorce does not always completely revoke a will but it does cause a gift to the former spouse to lapse. This may be what you want but this is not always the case.
Are you confident that your current will reflects your current wishes for the dispersement of your estate on death? Are the arrangements envisaged by the will as tax efficient or as up to date as they might be?
I could say more but I am sure you get the point, another financial planning imperative.
4. Consider implementing some family governance
Sadly families can fall out sometimes. A family governance policy or ‘Charter’ can be very effective in pre-empting or assisting in resolving family disputes. There is an ever-increasing trend for wealthy families to formulate family charters (essentially, a set of rules set out ahead of any potential dispute which will frame discussions if relationships start to break down. The primary financial planning objective of which is to document the various assumptions, understandings and expectations regarding the family’s wealth, business and succession planning generally and, in particular, how this should be managed and preserved for the future. Well worth considering, particularly if you are accumulating wealth, have a business and particularly if you are involved in a family business.
5. Consider a Lasting Power of Attorney
Often wrongly overlooked by younger people or dismissed as being purely for the elderly Lasting Powers of Attorney provide valuable safeguards. Sadly, mental or physical incapacity can hit at any time and planning ahead is recommended to ease the potential burden on your family and those closest to you. In very basic terms, a Lasting Power of Attorney gives another individual the legal authority to look after specific aspects of your financial affairs or health and welfare should you lose the capacity through mental incapacity, illness or injury to do so.
We are all optimists and may dismiss this option but if you do not have one in place and later become mentally incapacitated, relatives may face long delays and expense in applying to the Court of Protection to get access and take control of your assets and finances. Some simple and relatively inexpensive steps now could save them lots of heartache and effort later on down the road.
6. Review your tax affairs
We all hate this one but there is no avoiding it. We just seem to finish submitting our tax returns when another one seems to arrive but we can help ourselves here by making sure our records are in good order. Have you implemented all of the legitimate tax planning opportunities that may be available to you? Are their any remaining pension or ISA contributions you can make before the tax year end. Particularly if you are a higher rate tax payer bearing in mind my earlier comments about the possible reduction or removal of higher rate tax relief on pensions. Are there any tax harvesting opportunites from investments which have not done so well within your portfolios? If any tax structures were undertaken in the past are they still valid and do they remain right for you and your family now? Are the structures operating as they should be? Do any of the recent HMRC actions around tax schemes such as film partnerships and other schemes affect you?
7. Consider your giving strategy
Finally, are you and your family clear on your personal philanthropic strategy? Are there provisions within your Will, do your family know what they are? For those of you are already giving, is your giving optimised for tax-efficiency?
Obviously, this is not meant to be a definitive list of everything you could or should address but rather a short seven financial planning imperatives where you could make a start and which could make a significant impact on your financial planning and the financial well-being or you and your family.
If you would like to know more about the financial planning and investment management services of Investment Quorum please don’t hesitate to get in touch by email or preferably give us a call on 0207 337 1390, we would love to hear from you.
Lee Robertson, CEO
Lee is a Chartered Wealth Manager and is listed in the definitive Spears Wealth Management Index as one of the UK’s top 10 wealth managers. He is a regular contributor to the financial press and is often on television discussing wealth management and investment issues.
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