Aurora Financial News https://www.aurorafp.co.uk/wordpress Just another WordPress site Wed, 01 Sep 2021 11:56:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.21 Inheritance Tax https://www.aurorafp.co.uk/wordpress/inheritance-tax-13/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 11:56:33 +0000 http://www.newsfin.co.uk/news/?p=3567 Minimising the impact of on your estate
The latest Inheritance Tax (IHT) statistics show an additional 4% was added to HM Revenue & Customs receipts compared to the previous year[1]. IHT is a tax payable when you die. Whether your beneficiaries have to pay it, and how much they’ll pay, is based on the value of your estate.

Your estate’s value is the value of the whole entirety of your assets. An asset is anything of value that is owned, for example; money, property, investments, businesses, possessions, payouts from life assurance not written under an appropriate trust, as well as any gifts made within seven years of your death. IHT is currently applied to estates worth more than £325,000, and will remain at this level until April 2026.

Surviving spouse
When the value of your estate exceeds this limit, known as the ‘nil-rate band’, everything over the threshold is taxed at 40% (unless you’re leaving it to your surviving spouse, in which case no IHT needs to be paid).

For the 2021/2022 tax year, there is also a ‘residence nil-rate band’ currently worth £175,000. If applicable to your particular situation, this is added to your nil-rate band of £325,000 – so your estate could be worth up to £500,000 before any IHT is payable.

Emotional times
This increased tax take suggests that the Chancellor’s freeze on the nil-rate band and residence nil-rate band at the last Budget is beginning to have the desired effect. It is achieving the ‘fiscal drag’ it set out to do, particularly given asset prices have soared following the depths of the pandemic and could continue to do so given inflation is on the up.

As a result, many more people could end up having to pay IHT without realising they would fall into the tax charge. It is vitally important people start to have conversations with loved ones to fully understand an estate and the value of it. While it isn’t always the most pleasant conversation, it is better to have it now than during more emotional times such as following a death.

Complicated tax
With the government looking for ways to plug the holes in the public finances created by the pandemic, IHT will always be in focus. IHT is a complicated tax and one that requires a necessary level of knowledge to ensure your planning in the most tax-efficient way.

So IHT planning should be a considered but it’s important not to plan in isolation – it should be part of an overall strategy that encompasses your lifetime financial goals and assets, even though constituent parts may be executed separately and at different times.

Source data:
[1] National Statistics Inheritance Tax statistics: commentary from HM Revenue & Customs
updated 29 July 2021.

INFORMATION IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF TAXATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS. ANY LEVELS AND BASES OF, AND RELIEFS FROM, TAXATION ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. 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. THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY DOES NOT REGULATE TAXATION & TRUST ADVICE.

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Making inheritance gifts from surplus income https://www.aurorafp.co.uk/wordpress/making-inheritance-gifts-from-surplus-income/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 11:56:06 +0000 http://www.newsfin.co.uk/news/?p=3565 Are you making use of this useful and much under-utilised exemption?
If you want to make inheritance gifts from surplus or excess income, there is a useful and much under-utilised exemption that allows gifts over and above the value of £3,000 per annum to be made without these gifts forming part of your estate if you die within seven years of making them.

The exemption comes under the heading of ‘Normal expenditure out of surplus income’. It is a particularly valuable way of gifting part of your estate to future generations on a regular basis.

If you want to make inheritance gifts from surplus or excess income, you need to show that you intend to make regular gifts that will not affect your normal standard of living, and that will come from income rather than capital.

This form of giving is most effective for those with higher incomes relative to their cost of living, who are either looking to clear their estate or just make gifts to loved ones – especially in order to distinguish these gifts from lifetime gifts of capital that have already been made or are being contemplated.

So, what are the requirements?
1. The gift must form part of your normal expenditure – this can mean either a pattern of regular gifts or the intention to make regular gifts. You therefore need to record when you are making a gift out of income, by writing a letter for instance.
2. The gift is made out of income.
3. You are left with enough income to maintain your normal standard of living.

In order to assess whether you have sufficient income to utilise this exemption and to satisfy conditions 2 and 3, you will need to:

Consider how much net income you receive (for example, from employment, pensions, dividends, interest, rent) after tax.

Review what your normal expenditure amounts to – there is no actual legal definition of what ‘normal expenditure’ amounts to but it is based on an individual’s particular circumstances. This may, of course, fluctuate from year to year.

Conditions that must be met
It is important to consider the conditions that must be met for gifts to qualify. The conditions of ‘surplus’ and ‘normality’ are qualitative and, without methodical planning, can leave room for doubt about the tax effects.

It’s therefore important to seek professional financial advice in advance to identify any ambiguity. Inadvertently making a gift of capital could be very costly and later give rise to a 40% Inheritance Tax charge on those funds should you die within seven years.

Carrying forward your income
If appropriate, you could complete this process each tax year to review how much surplus income you have for that year. You can then increase or decrease the amount you gift accordingly. There are no hard and fast rules as to when income no longer retains its status as income. However, HM Revenue & Customs tends to take the approach of being able to carry forward income for a period of two years.

It’s important to keep financial records that allow you to calculate and offset expenditure against income. This will determine the amount available for gifting. Tracking the opening and closing balances on monthly bank statements is the usual starting point.

Continuing to make regular payments
It’s also helpful to record a Memorandum of Intent, declaring your future intention to make regular gifts of your excess income, which can be used to anticipate a challenge to their nature. The Inheritance Tax Form 403 provides a useful record-keeping tool. Your executors will need to claim the exemption on your death, and therefore it is important to maintain thorough record keeping.

In certain situations it may be possible that a single gift could qualify so long as it can be proved upon death that there was an intention to continue with the payments. Such intention could be proved by the donor providing a signed letter to the recipient confirming their intention to continue to make regular payments.

Wishing to retain control of your capital
This is a particularly effective means of tax planning if an individual is not dependent upon such income to maintain their current standard of living but wishes to retain control of their capital. For example, a parent could pay the premiums on a life policy for their child, make payments into trust for the benefit of their children, or pay their children’s school or university fees.

The gift can be made out of general income or it could be made out of a nominated source such as property rental or specific investment income.

THIS INFORMATION IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF LEGISLATION. LEGISLATION AND TAX TREATMENT CAN CHANGE IN THE FUTURE. THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY DOES NOT REGULATE INHERITANCE TAX PLANNING AND TRUSTS.

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Top pension tips if you’re about to retire https://www.aurorafp.co.uk/wordpress/top-pension-tips-if-youre-about-to-retire/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 11:55:36 +0000 http://www.newsfin.co.uk/news/?p=3563 Understanding your options and putting a plan in place
We spend our working lives building towards retirement. Choices we make today will have a big impact on the quality of our lives later on. If you only have a handful of years to go until you reach your retirement, it has never been more important to understand your options and put a plan in place – now could be a good time to re-evaluate your plans with us.

The changes made to UK pensions in 2015 mean that we all have more choices available on how to fund our lifestyle in retirement. But decisions surrounding when, why, and how you decide to retire will be very personal and will largely depend on your individual circumstances.

These decisions will also be impacted by external factors such as the rising State Pension age, and the impact of the recent pandemic on the job market. When planning for your future, it’s important to know when you can access the money in your pension pot.

If your pension is not on track to give you the income you want in retirement, you need to look at how to boost it. It’s also worth remembering that taking your pension doesn’t mean you need to retire.

Taking stock of your retirement plans
Retirement is a time to reap the rewards of years of hard work and do more of the things that you love, whether that’s travelling the world or spending time with your grandchildren. But to make this a reality, you need to prepare as well as you can financially. This isn’t always easy, as pensions and retirement planning can be complex.

To help you ensure you’re on the right track, ask yourself the following questions. What type of pension/s do I have? Do I have more than one pension pot? If so, where are they? When and how can I access the funds in my pension pots? What is the value of my pension pots? What benefits will they provide me with? What about any other options or guarantees?

Will you potentially exceed the Pension Lifetime Allowance?
If you’re close to retirement, you may find you are approaching the Pension Lifetime Allowance (LTA) limit. The LTA is the most you can accrue overall within your pension plans without incurring an additional tax charge on the excess funds. The LTA test can take place at various times and all funds are tested at some point (for example, when your pension plan is accessed, if you die without having accessed it and/or on reaching age 75). The LTA has been cut over the years and is now £1,073,100 for the 2021/22 tax year.

The LTA has also been frozen at £1,073,100 until 2026, potentially exposing you to the charge for breaching the threshold. If you breach the threshold you face a 55% LTA charge on amounts taken above this ceiling if they are withdrawn as a lump sum (with no further income tax due beyond the 55%), or a 25% LTA charge when taken as income which includes placing the funds in a drawdown plan. In addition, any income withdrawn is then taxed at usual income tax rates.

If you think you are nearing the LTA, it’s important to monitor the value of your pensions, and especially the value of changes to any defined benefit (DB) pensions as these can be surprisingly large. DB pensions are valued for LTA purposes as 20 times the annual pension figure, plus the tax-free cash amount, whereas defined contribution (DC) pensions are tested against the LTA based on the fund value. There were, and are, protections that can help you avoid a tax charge by giving you a higher LTA. We can discuss whether this applies to your situation.

What does your current and forecasted wealth look like?
As you get closer to retirement, it is important to assess your current and forecasted wealth, along with your income and expenditure, to create a picture of your finances for both now and in the future.

Lifetime cash flow modelling will help ensure you don’t run out of money – or die with too much – by showing whether your current investment approach is either excessively risky or unduly cautious. Retirement cash flow modelling can help to alleviate your concerns.

Building your individual retirement cash flow plan involves assessing your current and forecasted wealth, along with your income and expenditure, using assumed rates of investment growth, inflation and interest rates, to build a picture of your finances both now and in the future.

If you have accumulated wealth, retirement cash flow modelling will help you manage your position and make sensible decisions over the years. However, cash flow planning is arguably even more beneficial if you have longer-term personal or business objectives, as you can see how much you need to save and the returns you need to meet those defined objectives.

Time to look at your options available when accessing your pension?
Once you reach age 55, you can access your defined contribution (DC) pension pot. You can take some or all of it, to use as you need, or leave it so that it has the potential to continue to grow. It’s up to you how you take the benefits from your DC pension pot. You can take your benefits in a number of different ways.

You can choose to buy a guaranteed income for life (an annuity). You can take some, or all, of your pension pot as a cash lump sum, or you can leave it invested. However you decide to take your benefits, you’ll normally be able to take 25% of your pension pot tax-free. The rest will be subject to Income Tax.

It’s good to have choices when it comes to pensions and your retirement, but it’s also important to understand all your options and any impact your decision may have on your future security. How long your pension pot lasts will depend on the choices you make. We can help by discussing the options available to access your pension.

Annuities
If you buy an annuity this will provide a guaranteed income for the rest of your life. With this option, the provider agrees to pay you an agreed regular sum until you die. With an annuity, you may receive more or less money than you put in depending on how long you live after your annuity has started.

Flexi-access drawdown
By opting for flexi-access drawdown, you can leave your pension pot invested so that it has the potential to grow, or take lump sums or a regular income from it. Your pension pot will last until you’ve taken all your money out. The level of income you take and any investment growth will be key factors as to how long your pension pot will last.

Take some or all of it in cash
If you take some or all of your pension pot as a cash lump sum, it’s up to you how long it lasts. Once you receive your money after tax, you’re completely responsible for it and can use it as you require – although remember that although 25% of the amount you take is tax-free, you’ll pay Income Tax on the rest.

Leave it all for now – defer your pension
You could decide not to take your pension at your selected retirement date and leave it invested until you’re ready to take your benefits. This means your pension pot would have the potential to grow, although this is not guaranteed. It’s important to ensure you don’t lose any guarantees which only apply at your retirement date if you decide to leave your pension pot.

A PENSION IS A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT NOT NORMALLY ACCESSIBLE UNTIL AGE 55 (57 FROM APRIL 2028 UNLESS PLAN HAS A PROTECTED PENSION AGE). THE VALUE OF YOUR INVESTMENTS (AND ANY INCOME FROM THEM) CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP WHICH WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE LEVEL OF PENSION BENEFITS AVAILABLE. YOUR PENSION INCOME COULD ALSO BE AFFECTED BY THE 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. YOU SHOULD SEEK ADVICE TO UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS AT RETIREMENT.

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Build your own financial plan https://www.aurorafp.co.uk/wordpress/build-your-own-financial-plan/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 11:55:02 +0000 http://www.newsfin.co.uk/news/?p=3561 Vision without action is merely a dream
Having a financial plan in place early on can make it easier to manage your money further down the line. It’s never too early to make a financial plan. The sooner you work out your goals and start following a plan to achieve them, the more likely you are to succeed.

Here are three key questions to ask yourself when building a financial plan.

1. What are my goals?
Building wealth takes time and a little effort. Like any activity, be it growing a business or learning a new skill, you need to decide early on what your long-term objectives are. It’s exactly the same when you are building wealth – it is important to set financial goals.

Without a goal, your efforts can become disjointed and often confusing. Being able to keep track of your progress towards achieving a goal is only possible if you set one in the first place. Being able to measure progress is extremely rewarding and will help you maintain focus.

Procrastination is something we all battle with from time to time. However, when you set goals in life, specific goals for what you want to achieve, it helps you understand that procrastination is dangerous. It is wasted time. It is another day you aren’t moving closer to that goal.

Setting financial goals is essential to financial success. Once you’ve set your goals you can then write and follow a roadmap to realise them. It helps you stay focused and confident that you’re on the right path.

Consider the SMART principle when setting your own goals:

Specific – Clearly define what each goal is and use details such as numbers where possible (quantify it).
Measurable – Think about a tangible way in which you can measure your progress.
Achievable – Are your ambitions realistic? With planning we are often capable of more than we realise but being pragmatic is important. Discussing your goals with us will help you to balance this.
Relevant – Are your goals in line with your own personal values? It is useful to chat this through with somebody else to clarify your values.
Timebound – Think about the timeframe you are working within and whether there is any flexibility needed.

Your goals are personal and unique to you. Perhaps you want to set up your own business and follow a lifelong passion, or maybe you want financial security and to ensure you can pass a legacy on to your loved ones.

Once you’ve defined your goals and you’re clear on your current situation, it’s a good time to work out if you have enough to achieve your goals or if there’s a gap. This isn’t an easy task as there are often many variables to consider, such as inflation, tax and growth rates.

2. Where am I now?
Cash flow planning is a concept borrowed from business and every business owner or finance director will be familiar with the term. These same principles can be applied to your personal financial planning. As we’ve mentioned, the starting point is to identify each one of your personal goals.

Cash flow planning is most effective when all likely future needs are taken into account too. Just focusing on immediate needs may seem more practical but focusing on one goal at a time can limit future options.

Make a list or a spreadsheet of what you have, specifying where and how much; this could include any assets such as property, cash balances, investments, pensions, protection policies and any debts such as mortgage, credit cards or loans. Look at your income and expenditure levels.

Remember, the future is somewhere you have never been before. Cash flow planning guides and updates you on your journey. If there are delays on the way it can find another path. Combined with our professional advice, we can help you arrive at your destination more smoothly.

3. What do I need to do next?
As we’ve seen with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, things can change very quickly. It goes without saying that your financial plans should not be static objects, and that you should review your plans over time and on a regular basis to ensure that you remain on track towards your goals. You also need to adapt your financial plans as your circumstances change.
Reviewing your arrangements regularly is a vital way of ensuring you meet your financial goals and ensures that all your plans are up to date in light of changes to your circumstances and the wider financial landscape.

Reviews can also prompt you to consider some of those things that sometimes get left undone – such as your Will, which might still need to be arranged or updated. Or perhaps there is a Lasting Power of Attorney that has not been progressed or a life assurance policy that should be placed under an appropriate trust. As we’ve all recently experienced, life has a habit of springing unpleasant surprises on us when least expected.

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Preparing for the unexpected https://www.aurorafp.co.uk/wordpress/preparing-for-the-unexpected/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 11:54:31 +0000 http://www.newsfin.co.uk/news/?p=3559 Protection should be a core part of your financial plan
If you are worried illness or injury could leave you without enough to pay bills, there are solutions to help protect your income. While some people could rely on state benefits as a safety net if they experienced a sudden loss of income, for many the drop in income would be too severe to maintain their standard of living.

Being able to keep paying the bills
In many situations, families rely on both partners’ income to pay the monthly bills and don’t think about the impact losing one income could have on their standard of living. Even though people recognise the need to take out life insurance to pay off their mortgage if they die, some may not think about how their family could continue to pay their outgoings if they became ill or were injured and unable to work for a long period of time.

If something were to happen to you, would you and your family be able to keep paying the bills? The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has made many of us think more carefully about protecting ourselves and our family from financial difficulties. However, this isn’t just about having savings and investments to provide for the long term – it’s also about ensuring you and your loved ones are provided for should the worst happen.

Sufficient savings to manage financially
Have you calculated how much you and your family would need if you found yourself unable to work? This should also take account of your savings and any other income you might have. Using a Budget Planner will enable you to work out what you’re spending each month, from household bills to general living costs. Having a good idea of your overall budget will make it easier to make changes.

Not everyone will have sufficient savings to manage financially for long periods of illness – particularly if this money is earmarked for other plans like retirement or helping children with their education. That’s where insurance protection comes in, and there are a variety of options that could help to cover specific costs, or replace income, should you find yourself unable to work.

Income Protection
Income Protection insurance can provide a regular replacement income if someone is unable to work because of an illness or injury. Typically, a policy pays out after they’ve been off work for six months (often called a ‘deferred’ or ‘waiting period’) and can pay a percentage of their salary until either they return to work, reach State Pension Age or die while claiming.

Critical Illness Cover
Critical Illness Cover is a type of insurance that pays out a tax-free lump sum if someone is diagnosed with, or undergoes surgery for, a critical illness that meets the policy definition during the policy term and they survive a specified number of days. It’s designed to help support you and your family financially while you deal with your diagnosis – so you can focus on your recovery without worrying about how the bills will be paid.

Life Insurance Cover
Life Insurance Cover pays out a lump sum if someone passes away during the policy term.
If you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness and are not expected to live longer than 12 months, some policies will provide the sum prior to death. It’s there to provide financial support for your loved ones after you’re gone, whether that means helping to pay off the mortgage or maintaining their standard of living.

Private Medical Insurance Cover
Private Medical Insurance Cover is a type of cover that pays your private healthcare costs if someone has a treatable condition. Whether it’s overnight care, outpatient treatment, diagnostic tests, scans or aftercare, you receive the specialist private treatment you need, in comfortable surroundings, when you need it. The cover is available at a range of different levels of cover at various premiums designed to meet your specific needs.

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How to trace multiple old pension pots https://www.aurorafp.co.uk/wordpress/how-to-trace-multiple-old-pension-pots/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 11:54:00 +0000 http://www.newsfin.co.uk/news/?p=3557 Over time, pension schemes close, merge or become renamed
Changed job? Moved house? It’s not always easy to keep track of a pension, especially if you’ve been in more than one scheme or have changed employers throughout your career. Over time, pension schemes close, merge or become renamed. So even if you remember the name of your scheme, it could now be called something else.

With more of us changing jobs regularly throughout our working lives, it has become harder to keep track of old company pensions. This is particularly the case for people who have moved home and whose pension providers no longer have their correct contact details.

With the disappearance of the job-for-life and with more people moving jobs several times throughout their working life and accruing multiple pension pots along the way, it can be all too easy to lose track of the pension funds built up.
So how can you go about tracing any pension schemes you have paid into at some point in the past?

Get in touch with former employers
If your forgotten pension scheme was run by a company you worked for, you should contact them first. In some cases, individuals may not have been aware they were actually paying into a pension, especially if no monthly salary deductions were being made.

Most pension schemes must send you a statement each year. These statements include an estimate of the retirement income that the pension pot might give you when you reach retirement.

First, check to see if you have any old paperwork that might have the name of your employer or pension scheme. This will give you a good starting point. If you’re no longer getting these statements – perhaps because you’ve changed your address – to track down the pension you can contact the pension provider, your former employer if it was a workplace pension, or The Pension Tracing Service.

Contact pension providers
Even if your pension was linked to your job, it may have been run on your employer’s behalf by a pension company. In this case, you should get in touch with the provider rather than your previous employer.

The same applies if you set up your own personal or stakeholder pension, for example. The Pensions Advisory Service, which is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions, can also help you look for a personal pension.

You’ll need to provide information about the name of your old employer or pension provider, and potentially further information such as the dates you worked at the company and your National Insurance number.

If you know which provider your pension was with, your first step is to contact them. However you contact them, you should provide as many of the following details as possible: your plan number, your date of birth, your National Insurance number and the date your pension was set up.

By asking the following questions, you’ll get a thorough overview of your pension pot:

Q: What is the current value of my pension pot?
Q: Have I nominated a recipient for any death benefits?
Q: How much has been contributed into my pension pot?
Q: What charges do I pay for the management of my pension pot?
Q: How much income is the pension pot likely to pay out at my chosen retirement date?
Q: How is my pension pot being invested and what options are there for making changes?
Q: What are the charges if I wanted to transfer the pension pot to another provider?
Q: What are the death benefits – in other words, how much money would be paid from the pension if I died?

Use the Pension Tracing Service
An alternative way of tracking down a lost workplace or personal pension is by using the Pension Tracing Service. This is a free government scheme which can be accessed via the government website. Again, you will need to provide as much information as possible about yourself and the dates you were a member of any scheme.

You can phone the Pension Tracing Service on 0800 731 0193 or submit a tracing request form to the Pension Service via the GOV.UK website.

Stick to official services
Be warned though, from time to time, businesses are set up to offer similar tracking services to people who have lost pensions. Although they are not necessarily doing anything illegal and often offer assistance for free, they may try to give the impression that they are official services.

In fact, they could be trying to obtain the personal information of people who have substantial pension savings so they can persuade these individuals to make investments or pay for financial advice, for example.

To reduce the risk of losing track of a pension in future, ensure you let providers know whenever you change your home address or any other details, such as your email address.

A PENSION IS A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT NOT NORMALLY ACCESSIBLE UNTIL AGE 55 (57 FROM APRIL 2028 UNLESS THE PLAN HAS A PROTECTED PENSION AGE). THE VALUE OF YOUR INVESTMENTS (AND ANY INCOME FROM THEM) CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP WHICH WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE LEVEL OF PENSION BENEFITS AVAILABLE. YOUR PENSION INCOME COULD ALSO BE AFFECTED BY THE 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. YOU SHOULD SEEK ADVICE TO UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS AT RETIREMENT.

ACCESSING PENSION BENEFITS EARLY MAY IMPACT ON LEVELS OF RETIREMENT INCOME AND YOUR ENTITLEMENT TO CERTAIN MEANS-TESTED BENEFITS AND IS NOT SUITABLE FOR EVERYONE. YOU SHOULD SEEK ADVICE TO UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS AT RETIREMENT.

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Coping with life-changing events https://www.aurorafp.co.uk/wordpress/coping-with-life-changing-events/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 11:53:29 +0000 http://www.newsfin.co.uk/news/?p=3555 Plan for tomorrow, live for today
Change is the only constant in life. It inevitably involves twists and turns, with some that are expected while others may be entirely unplanned. When this happens, it’s important to feel secure with the knowledge that you have the right contingency plan in place.

None of us can predict exactly what a life-changing event will be or when it will occur, and many of them will take you by surprise, whether good or bad. Here, we consider some major life events you may wish to discuss with us.

Divorce and managing finances
Managing your finances after divorce can sometimes feel like an impossible task, especially if the amount of money coming into your household is much less than when you were married. For some people, divorce can mean financial devastation or hardship.

You may lose half of what you have saved over the course of your adult life, and go into debt paying lawyer’s fees and other expenses. Yet as messy and painful as divorce can be, it is often both necessary and ultimately a good thing – and it is possible to recover both financially and emotionally after a divorce.

When you’re facing a divorce, you need to know where you stand financially. We can help you plan for a sound financial future, to give you security and peace of mind, allowing you to move forward with your life.

Thinking about financial planning for long-term care
More people in the UK are living for longer, which is good news. However, this longevity brings certain challenges, such as how we will fund any long-term care that may be needed in the future. If you are one of the many people faced with helping a parent or another loved one find long-term care, then you are probably grappling with a lot of questions.

Among them: How can I bring this up in a way that won’t upset them? How are they, or how are we, going to pay for this?

What type of living situation is best?
Ageing comes with many joys and challenges. We can discuss with you the options to help cover your loved ones’ care needs now and in the future.

Dealing with your finances in widowhood
Coping with the death of a loved one can be extremely hard. You may be dealing with lots of different emotions, finding it hard to process them and having difficulties moving on. Losing your loved one, whether expected or sudden, can prove almost too much to bear.

But it’s surprising how uninformed some spouses can be about each other’s financial lives. Even in marriages that consciously attempt to integrate finances (joint bank accounts, both names on the mortgage), a lot of financial activity is specific to one spouse, for example, a credit card, retirement planning, an ownership interest in a business, investments, a car with only one name on the finance agreement.

After the death of a spouse, your financial situation will likely be a major concern. We will take the time to understand your needs and recommend solutions personally tailored to you.

What to do and not do with an inheritance
Losing someone you care about is one of the hardest experiences in life. Receiving an inheritance probably means coping with the death of a loved and cherished member of your family or a friend. The emotion associated with bereavement often makes taking decisions about both their estate, and what you stand to inherit, difficult.

Most estates are settled within six to nine months in the UK, but it depends on the complexity of the estate. If it isn’t handled appropriately, the pressure of the proceeds can be stressful, upset your relationships and complicate your finances.
During this difficult time we can help you to consider your options, assess any tax implications and decide how this inheritance could be used to provide you with financial security in the years ahead.

The importance of financial planning
Financial planning helps you determine your short and long-term financial goals and create a balanced plan to meet those goals. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has demonstrated unequivocally that such unforeseen and unplanned-for events can wreak havoc on our personal finances.

Establishing clarity around your finances is arguably one of the most critical things you can do for your overall financial success. It is important to understand your financial needs and then create a financial plan to meet them. Tax planning, prudent spending and careful budgeting will help you keep more of your hard-earned cash.

We know you’ll have different priorities for your wealth at different points in your life. Whatever your financial aims, we can help you achieve them for both you and your family.

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How has COVID-19 affected retirement plans? https://www.aurorafp.co.uk/wordpress/how-has-covid-19-affected-retirement-plans/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 11:52:57 +0000 http://www.newsfin.co.uk/news/?p=3553 Attitudes and aspirations of this year’s retirees
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted on every aspect of our lives, affecting individuals’ financial situation and for many, their plans for retirement. If you are approaching retirement in the next 12 months, your plans should be under continuous review.

We take a look at new research which has highlighted the attitudes and aspirations of this year’s retirees[1].

Shifting attitudes
The pandemic has shifted attitudes and priorities across almost all aspects of people’s lives, but specifically, the timing of retirement is one thing that has changed for many. The research uncovered that 37% of people have sped up their retirement date in the past 12 months. The opportunity to work from home and escape the daily commute, has freed up time to enjoy other things.

It has provided a glimpse into what retirement might look like and many like what they see. Some may have found themselves forced into an early retirement due to a change in work circumstances or redundancy. While others were doing the opposite with 12% deciding to delay retiring.

When you choose to retire is important, the timing of it can limit or increase your earning potential prior to retiring. If you are considering changing your retirement date, it is important to discuss with us your updated plans so we can help you understand any impact this may have.

Flexible retirement
Traditionally when we think of retirement we think of the departure from working life. Although people often look forward to giving up work as part of their retirement plans, others have no intention of doing so fully.

Whether it be a financial or emotional driver, the growing trend of working in retirement is clear from the research. Just 44% see retirement as giving up work completely.

The rise in flexible working as a result of COVID-19 has also been a contributing factor; making stepping back rather than stepping away much more achievable than ever before with 22% planning a more flexible retirement by simply reducing their hours.

Financial impact
Unsurprisingly traveling remains a key aspiration. However, research shows that 30% of people have had to reconsider their travel or holiday plans in retirement.

As a result of COVID-19, uncertainty around safety and travel restrictions has led to more and more people choosing a ‘staycation’ or investing in a UK based holiday home over heading overseas.

Whether you’re swapping the Côte d’Azur for the Cornish coast or simply delaying your travel plans, it’s important to consider the financial impact, if any, that changing your original plans may have.

Cross-country moves
Lockdown living forced many of us to reassess what is important. With 51% worrying about not being able to do the things they want to in retirement.

As mentioned, travelling is one concern However, for 43% of people, not being able to spend time with family and friends has been a worry. For the peace of mind that another national lockdown won’t hinder the opportunity to visit loved ones, there has also been a trend in cross-country moves to be nearer to children and grand-children.

A move in retirement may not have been on the cards prior to the pandemic, however, this may now have become a priority for many.

Reviewing your plan
In times of uncertainty, making a plan can seem like a waste of time. However, it’s important to think ahead to retirement and review your plans for the future, and even more so as we face up to the protracted coronavirus crisis.

It’s concerning to see some individuals accessing pension funds earlier than planned with others thinking about this option. While this may alleviate short term financial pressures, it leaves less of a retirement fund to provide an income throughout what can be decades of retirement.

It’s important not to rush into making life changing retirement decisions without first seeking professional financial advice. 3

Source data:
[1] Research by Standard Life Aberdeen, carried out in February 2021 by 3Gem – 1000 adults, aged 55+ and still working.

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Property wealth boost https://www.aurorafp.co.uk/wordpress/property-wealth-boost/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 11:52:27 +0000 http://www.newsfin.co.uk/news/?p=3551 Older homeowners receive £1.94 billion
Older homeowners received a £1.94 billion property wealth boost in the first half of 2021, data shows[1]. More than half of the proceeds of equity release (52%) were used to clear mortgages (45%) and manage unsecured debts (7%) while 23% was used to help family and friends – notably for help with house deposits as buyers rushed to beat the end of the Stamp Duty holiday.

These ‘big ticket’ expenses saw an average of £74,894 in borrowing being repaid and £72,520 being gifted. Over half of people who used their equity to support wider family and friends used it to provide a house deposit (52%) or an early inheritance (59%) – some of which was no doubt also put towards property purchase.

Invaluable source of cash
Equity release can be an invaluable source of cash for some over-55s. It enables homeowners to unlock the value locked up in their home as a tax-free lump sum without having to sell it, downsize or relocate.

Your home must have a minimum value of £70,000 and be your permanent main residence in the UK, which you live in for more than six months of the year. With equity release you don’t have to make monthly payments, unless you choose to. It’s usually repaid when the last borrower moves into long-term care or dies.

What types of equity release plans are there?

There are two main types of equity release:

Lifetime Mortgage: This is the most common type of equity release. You borrow money secured against your home. The mortgage is usually repaid from the sale of your home when you die or move permanently into residential care.

Home Reversion Plan: You raise money by selling all or part of your home while continuing to live in it until you die or move into permanent residential care.

Total value released
The data revealed an increase in the amount of money used for property purchases – around 7% of the total value released went towards buying homes with the average customer taking out £115,068 to boost their buying power.

Around 71% of people took out drawdown plans in the first half of the year, taking an initial average amount of £56,744 and reserving another £666.4 million for future use.

Double digit gains
The data reflects the whole market and shows that every region apart from Northern Ireland saw the value of property wealth released increase. London recorded the biggest increase at 74% while Wales recorded a 42.1% rise and another seven regions saw double digit gains.

Wales recorded the biggest rise in plan sales at 24.1% followed by London on 22.6% and a total of seven out of the 12 regions saw increases in plan sales.

The strength of the housing market in the South East and London meant those regions accounted for just over £1 billion of all equity released – more than half the total across the UK during the six months – despite accounting for only 34% of plans sold.

Source data:
[1] Key Market monitor Equity release performance in the UK Half year 2021

THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE SECURING OTHER DEBTS AGAINST YOUR HOME. YOUR MORTGAGE IS SECURED ON YOUR HOME, WHICH YOU COULD LOSE IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP YOUR MORTGAGE PAYMENTS.

EQUITY RELEASE MAY INVOLVE A HOME REVERSION PLAN OR LIFETIME MORTGAGE WHICH IS SECURED AGAINST YOUR PROPERTY. TO UNDERSTAND THE FEATURES AND RISKS, ASK FOR A PERSONALISED ILLUSTRATION.

EQUITY RELEASE REQUIRES PAYING OFF ANY OUTSTANDING MORTGAGE. EQUITY RELEASED, PLUS ACCRUED INTEREST, TO BE REPAID UPON DEATH OR MOVING INTO LONG-TERM CARE. EQUITY RELEASE WILL AFFECT THE AMOUNT OF INHERITANCE YOU CAN LEAVE AND MAY AFFECT YOUR ENTITLEMENT TO MEANS-TESTED BENEFITS NOW OR IN THE FUTURE.

CHECK THAT THIS MORTGAGE WILL MEET YOUR NEEDS IF YOU WANT TO MOVE OR SELL YOUR HOME OR YOU WANT YOUR FAMILY TO INHERIT IT.

IF YOU ARE IN ANY DOUBT, SEEK PROFESSIONAL FINANCIAL ADVICE.

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Gender pension gap https://www.aurorafp.co.uk/wordpress/gender-pension-gap-2/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 11:51:57 +0000 http://www.newsfin.co.uk/news/?p=3549 British women impacted at every stage of career
The staggering impact of the gender pension gap has been revealed in research which shows that women have lower pension pot sizes in every age bracket, with the situation significantly deteriorating as they approach retirement[1].

Pension pot sizes
The highlights there is always a difference in pension pot sizes between genders[2], even at the start of men and women’s careers. This initial gap (17%) remains largely unchanged until men and women reach their thirties, but doubles to 34% by the time they are in their forties. The gap increases to 51% in the fifties age bracket, and then to 56% at retirement.

The analysis also reveals that the difference in size of pot has a significant influence on the choices being made at retirement. 92% of women choose to take their pension in cash compared to 86% of men, while only 7% of women consider a drawdown compared to 12% of men.

Investment earnings
The issue is compounded by the fact that even in sectors where women are more heavily represented in the workforce, the pension gap remains just as stark. For example, in the Senior Care sector, the research shows that 85% of pension scheme members are women, yet the average woman’s pot size is 47% smaller than the average man’s (£8,040 current male average pot size).

Defined Contribution (DC) pensions have grown substantially in recent years, with the introduction of auto-enrolment. DC pensions are a retirement plan in which the employer, employee or both make contributions on a regular basis. Individual accounts are set up for participants and benefits are based on the amounts credited to these accounts plus any investment earnings on the money in the account.

Career progression
However, much like the Gender Pay Gap in wages, the Gender Pension Gap is fast becoming an issue. This analysis reveals the extent of the gender pension gap in the UK – a gap that exists right from the very beginning of a woman’s career and accelerates as she approaches retirement.

The decision to take a career break to raise a family has a clear impact, though there a number of other factors at play here including lower pay relative to male peers at all stages of a woman’s career, a lack of pension contributions when she is away from the workplace, and the potential impact that raising a family has on a woman’s career progression.

Financial struggles
The research shows women are also more likely to face financial struggles following a divorce from their partner and are significantly more likely to waive their rights to a partner’s pension as part of their divorce. This is particularly true for older women, with one in four divorces occurring after the age of 50.

Changing social and workplace attitudes should help begin to level the playing field in terms of responsibilities, helped by the increasing acceptance of more flexible working patterns. The gender pay and pension gap is a complex issue that will take time to solve.

Source data:
[1] Research and data analysis from approximately 4 million Legal & General (L&G) pension scheme
members 28 Jul 2021.
[2] The analysis is based on LGIM’s proprietary data on c4 million Defined Contribution members as at 6 April 2021, but does not take into account any other pension provision the customers may have elsewhere.

A PENSION IS A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT NOT NORMALLY ACCESSIBLE UNTIL AGE 55 (57 FROM APRIL 2028). THE VALUE OF YOUR INVESTMENTS (AND ANY INCOME FROM THEM) CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP WHICH WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE LEVEL OF PENSION BENEFITS AVAILABLE. YOUR PENSION INCOME COULD ALSO BE AFFECTED BY THE 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. YOU SHOULD SEEK ADVICE TO UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS AT RETIREMENT.

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