There is no panacea when it comes to paying for care

Long-term care provision in the United Kingdom has been the subject of much debate and analysis over the past decade, yet the issue of how to fund the cost of that care for future generations remains unresolved. Much of the debate has revolved around how the State should address the problem.

Interest rate cuts tempting property investors back in to the market

Landlords have been buying more properties in the last quarter according to a survey. The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) quarterly survey revealed a “bounce back” in the buy-to-let market. In the ARLA members’ survey of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) for the second quarter of this year, nearly twice as many ARLA members reported landlords are buying more properties.

Tracing service may provide the help you need!

If you think you may have an old pension but are not sure of the details, the Pension Tracing Service may be able to help. They will try and match the information you give them to one of the schemes on their database and inform you of the results. If they have made a match they will provide you with the contact address of the scheme(s) and you can get in touch with them to see if you have any pension benefits.

In a low growth environment, which areas offer the best prospects?

Interest rates have fallen to their lowest levels in the Bank of England’s 315-year history and could fall even further, along with further inflationary falls.

Keeping your hard earned assets out of the hands of the taxman

Effective inheritance tax planning could save your beneficiaries thousands of pounds, maybe even hundreds of thousands depending on the size of your estate. At its simplest, inheritance tax (IHT) is the tax payable on your estate when you die if the value of your estate exceeds a certain amount.

With the abundance of choice, we can help you make the right decisions

With so many different protection options available, making the right decision to protect your personal and financial situation can seem overwhelming. There is a plethora of protection solutions which could help ensure that a lump sum, or a replacement income, becomes available to you in the event that it is needed. We can make sure that you are able to take the right decisions to deliver peace of mind for you and your family in the event of death, if you are too ill to work or if you are diagnosed with a critical illness.

Building a solid investment strategy through good and bad times

During this period of economic turbulence, what strategy should investors take? Your own attitude to risk is crucial. You may be comfortable to live with capital risk if it means the chance of a higher return in the end. Alternatively, you may be ‘risk averse’ and don’t want to risk your capital under any circumstances.

Your questions answered

There are a number of different reasons why you may wish to consider transferring your pension schemes, whether this is the result of a change of employment, poor investment performance, issues over the security of the pension scheme, or a need to improve flexibility.

Maximising an income from your pension fund

The earliest you are currently permitted to take your retirement benefits is from the age of 50, but this is set to rise to age 55 from April 2010. If you are considering setting up a conventional lifetime annuity, which pays a secure income for life, there is now no requirement to buy an annuity by the age of 75. However, you must start to take your benefits from the age of 75, in addition to any tax-free element.

Legally passing your estate without it being subject to Inheritance Tax

There are some important exemptions that allow you to legally pass your estate on to others, both before and after your death, without its being subject to Inheritance Tax.

Passing assets to beneficiaries using a trust

You may decide to use a trust to pass assets to beneficiaries, particularly those who aren’t immediately able to look after their own affairs. If you do use a trust to give something away this removes it from your estate, provided you don’t use it or get any benefit from it. But, bear in mind that gifts into trust may be liable to Inheritance Tax.

Reducing an Inheritance Tax liability on an estate

Investing in Alternative Investment Market (AIM) shares is one way of reducing an Inheritance Tax liability on an estate. Qualifying AIM shares offer more Inheritance Tax relief than some other assets and qualify as ‘business property investments.’ If property is held as AIM shares in certain trading companies, for a period of at least 2 years, it becomes eligible for Inheritance Tax Business Property Relief at 100 per cent and will fall out of the estate for Inheritance Tax purposes. This relief is a relief by value, the shares are treated as having no value for Inheritance Tax purposes.

Applying for probate

If you are an executor of someone’s will you may need a legal document called a ‘grant of probate’ to enable you to sort out the deceased person’s affairs. If there is no will, a close relative can apply for a ‘grant of letters of administration.’ In Scotland different procedures apply for a death.

Putting it off could mean that your spouse receives less

It’s easy to put off making a will. But if you die without one your assets may be distributed according to the law rather than your wishes. This could mean that your spouse receives less, or that the money goes to family members who may not need it.

Accurately reflecting what those assets would receive in the open market

When valuing a deceased person’s estate you need to include assets (property, possessions and money) they owned at their death and certain assets they gave away during the 7 years before they died. The valuation must accurately reflect what those assets would reasonably receive in the open market at the date of death.