As with all New Year’s resolutions, to give yourself the greatest chance of success, trying to do too much is a recipe for disaster. A hill too far. Better to pick one or two that will really make the biggest difference to your family, and enjoy the moment they are ticked off.
Invariably the best New Year’s resolution will be the toad you’ve been putting off eating – the toad that’s been sitting on the mantel piece all year staring at you. Resolve to have a clean mantel piece by tackling those one or two key items and celebrate on their achievement. As with most matters, being in control is much less stressful than being reactionary.
Make a will
It’s not nice to talk about, but if you don’t decide who should benefit on your passing, someone else will.
Currently, surviving (married) partners, children only have entitlement to the first £250,000 of the estate and half the remainder if they haven’t made a will. This is called dying intestate. You should look it up if you need a motivation to make a will.
Aside from the complications of your hard-earned assets not going where you would have preferred to, the legal cost of dealing with an estate where someone has died intestate is going to be more penal.
Remember, a will set up badly could be invalid, and an invalid will is treated the same as a person without a will under the laws of intestacy.
Take out a Power of Attorney
This allows a trusted individual to act for your estate if you were unable to. An accident such as a head injury or an illness, could leave someone without the ability to make their own decisions. By appointing a Power of Attorney (in advance), they will be able to speak to banks, mortgage companies, utility companies and sort all matters for you.
Aside from its benefit for you, consider the stress of a surviving friend watching a family’s estate diminish, whilst trying to speak to a call centre in the back end of nowhere, being passed from pillar to post to still get to ‘computer says no’. It might be a great New Year’s party chat to make a dual agreement with friends to be each other’s Power of Attorney!!
Introduce your Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to your children
At least by doing so there is less likely to be any bickering. The family will all be cohesive at a pretty stressful time, and will then respect the wishes of the will.
Make sure your life policies are in Trust
By selecting a simple form, you can ensure your life insurance doesn’t even go into your estate, and instead goes direct to the beneficiaries, free of administrative costs and inheritance tax. There are similar forms you can set up with your pension benefits and also company insurance death benefits. They are virtually free and very simple to achieve and could save tens of thousands.
Take independent financial advice
… if you've not already done so. There are very few ‘tied agents’ of one company still in existence, their lack of competitiveness nailing their coffin, but there are still some around.
The well-publicised high charges of the likes of St James Place seem to pass their own advisers by, but customers faced with a long financial document on a subject they don’t fully grasp could easily miss them as well.
An Independent Financial Adviser will scan the financial world to ensure you have access to the entire market and of course, because they are not paid by commission are not motivated financially.
If an Independent Financial Adviser thought, for example, that St James Place were the best solution for you, they would recommend them, but a St James Place adviser could not give advice, or recommend on any of the thousands of other funds and products out there.
About the author
Peter McGahan is Chief Executive of Independent financial adviser Worldwide Financial Planning, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
If you have a financial question, call 01872 222422 or visit us on WWFP.net.Last modified: June 10, 2021