On his return to work last week, the Prime Minister reaffirmed that the national lockdown was set to continue.
Making a speech outside 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson said: “I can see the long-term consequences of lockdown as clearly as anyone…and yet we must also recognise the risk of a second spike…because that would mean not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster.”
So, with home working set to continue for a time yet, your thoughts may turn to those ‘do it tomorrow’ jobs that you have been putting off. So, here’s a checklist of seven financial jobs that you can complete in the remaining weeks of lockdown.
1. Update your pension Expression of Wish forms
Your pensions will normally not form part of your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes and so are not covered by your will.
To specify who you would like to receive your pension when you pass away, you need to have an Expression of Wish form in place.
If you have multiple pensions, or your circumstances have changed since you started paying into your pension (perhaps you have got married or divorced) then you may need to review your arrangements.
Contact the pension provider/administrator and obtain the relevant Expression of Wish form, and make sure your beneficiaries are up to date.
2. Review your spending
In recent weeks, it’s likely that your expenditure has changed significantly. You’re probably no longer paying for petrol, travel, eating out, entertainment and lots more.
So, it’s a great time to go through your spending and work out if there are any areas in which you can save, and whether there are any direct debits you can cancel. You may be able to contribute more to your pension or savings or make gifts out of income (see below).
3. Write your will
Research by Macmillan Cancer Support has found that almost two-thirds of adults in the UK have not prepared a will. Among the over-55 age group, 42% don’t have a will.
Only by writing a will can you ensure that your possessions, money, property, and even dependent children are left with the people of your choice.
Even if you have already made a will, when was the last time you updated it? The Macmillan research also suggested that 1.5 million people may have unknowingly made their will void by getting married, as marriage automatically revokes a will made previously.
4. Establish your State Pension eligibility
Knowing how much pension you might receive can help you to plan your retirement.
In 2016 the government introduced the new single-tier State Pension. Before this time, it was sometimes difficult to understand exactly what you may have been entitled to until you reached the state retirement age. Now, it’s much easier to find out how much you’re eligible to receive.
The new State Pension is based on your National Insurance record and you’ll receive the full amount if you have 35 or more ‘qualifying years’. Qualifying years include years where you have been in full-time employment, or where you received National Insurance credits because, for example, you were receiving Child Benefit and not working.
Head to the government website to find out what State Pension you are entitled to, and when you might receive it.
5. Sort your Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) lets you appoint one or more people to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. It ensures you keep control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and cannot make your own decisions.
There are 2 types of LPA:
- Health and welfare – decisions relating to your care or medical treatment
- Property and financial affairs – decisions relating to your savings and investments, property, bills or benefits
You can choose to make one type or both. As we have seen in recent weeks, it’s possible to be incapacitated at any time. So, it’s vital that you have an LPA in place in order that you can appoint a trusted person to look after your affairs for you if you can’t.
6. Review your protection
We’ve previously looked at why people are more likely to protect their pets and possessions than themselves.
When was the last time you reviewed the life, health and income protection you have in place? Life events such as a new job, having a child, marriage or divorce, a new mortgage or retirement can mean you need to change your levels of cover.
Now is a great time to review your protection policies to ensure you are adequately covered. And, when reviewing your cover, check if any life assurance is in trust. If not, consider placing it in trust to ensure that when the funds are paid out, they do not automatically form part of your estate or your beneficiary’s estate on your death.
Considering the coronavirus pandemic and the increasing uncertainty regarding both our health and our finances, now is a good time to consider your ongoing needs to make sure you and your family are protected.
7. Think about making gifts
You may be in a position where you want to make a financial gift to someone struggling in the current situation. Making such a gift from capital is normally considered a Potentially Exempt Transfer (PET), meaning if you were to pass away within seven years the gift would typically form part of your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes.
Remember that you have an annual gift exemption of £3,000. This allows you to make an outright gift each tax year up to this amount, and this gift is exempt from your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes.
Each year you can also give away up to £5,000 to your son or daughter on the event of their marriage, or £2,500 when a grandchild gets married.
Finally, where you have the disposable income to do so, gifts out of income could also be immediately exempt from Inheritance Tax as long as:
- The gifts are made from your disposable income
- The intention is to establish a regular pattern of gifting
- The gifts do not adversely impact on your standard of living.
Get in touch
If there’s anything on this checklist that you’d like our help with, please get in touch. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3828 8100.