How to avoid the probate pitfalls

A look at the steps to take in England and Wales (the process differs in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

Getting started: what you need to know

Probate (or confirmation in Scotland) is the system you go through if youíre handling the estate of someone whoís died. It gives you the legal right to distribute the estate according to the deceasedís wishes. Inheritance Tax forms are part of the process even if the estate doesnít owe Inheritance Tax.

It’ll take longer to sort out your affairs if you don’t have a will

Itís 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.

Make sure everything you own goes where you want it to tax-efficiently

Planning your finances in advance should help you ensure that when you die everything you own goes where you want it to. Making a will is the first step in ensuring that your estate is shared out exactly as you want it to be.

Could you be liable to pay Inheritance Tax?

If you owned property jointly as joint tenants with the deceased and you werenít their spouse or registered civil partner, youíll have to pay any Inheritance Tax due on the property when you inherit it.

If you haven’t checked your premium bonds in a while, today may be your lucky day

Almost 900,000 premium bond prizes worth more than £43m have been left unclaimed, according to National Savings and Investments (NS&I).

Are you switched on to the tax benefits of pensions?

Research by Standard Life reveals that more people are now aware of the tax-efficiency of pensions than a year ago. Almost 2 in 5 people (39 per cent) are aware that the Government automatically adds £1 for every £4 you invest in a pension if you are a basic rate taxpayer[1] (subject to annual limits[2]). In 2012, only 3 in 10 (29 per cent) UK adults said they knew the Government added this level of free money to pension contributions.

New research shows 2 in 5 retirees support their families financially Two in five people (40 per cent) retiring this year provide financial support to their families which may be at risk as their incomes drop, according to new research from Prudential. The insurer’s Class of 2013 research, the latest of the annual studies conducted by Prudential since 2008, tracks the financial plans and expectations of people entering retirement this year. The report shows that retirees who provide support to dependants pay out on average £240 a month to help their families, with 11 per cent paying out more than £500 a month. Everyday living expenses Contributing to their families’ everyday living expenses was the most likely call on the finances of those expecting to retire this year. Around 15 per cent say they provide money regularly to cover items such as food or travel, while 14 per cent help with one-off non-essential items such as holidays, new TVs or even cars. Supporting offspring Prudential’s study also shows the make-up of UK households of those about to retire, with adult children and even grandchildren still living in the family home. Around two thirds (68 per cent) of those planning to retire this year will have no dependants living with them. Almost a sixth (16 per cent) of this year’s retirees have children under the age of 25 living at home, while 13 per cent have children aged 25 and over still living with them. Around four per cent even share their homes with a child’s partner, while three per cent count their grandchildren as housemates. Leaving an inheritance

We can help you identify the source of a wealth leak. Contact us to implement a robust protection strategy

Providing all is going to plan, it can be immensely satisfying building up assets and increasing your personal wealth but, as you know, life can throw you a problem when you're least expecting it. That's why we believe that the implementation of a robust wealth protection strategy is as important as a wealth creation strategy.

Laying the foundation to rebuild the UK's retirement savings system

In May this year, the Queen announced the Pensions Bill, a vital reform that lays the foundation to rebuild the UK's retirement savings system and simplify the State Pension for millions of today's workers, allowing them to plan their retirement with more certainty.

Families are under-protected and under-prepared

As one in five UK adults fears for job security, Scottish Widows warns of implications of single income reliance and leaving protection until the first rung of the property ladder. Research from Scottish Widows shows that over half (52 per cent) of the UK population with at least one wage earner in the household is reliant on a single income in order to make ends meet for their family.

Strategies to save tax and invest more tax-efficiently in 2013/14

Taxation can be a complicated area of personal finance and you can easily miss opportunities to reduce the amount of tax you pay, or save and invest tax-efficiently. Your job, your savings and your family's circumstances can all have an impact on the amount of income tax you pay each year.

Talk to us about the new pension opportunities

One way of looking at planning for retirement is to think about the number of paydays you have before you retire, and the number you hope to have afterwards. Imagine you start your pension planning when you're age 20, and you plan to retire when you're age 65. You have 540 paydays between starting your pension plan and retiring to achieve financial independence.

Reflecting an accurate open market value

The personal representative (the person nominated to handle the affairs of the deceased person) arranges to pay any Inheritance Tax that is due. You usually nominate the personal representative in your will (you can nominate more than one), in which case they are known as the executor. If you die without leaving a will a court can nominate the personal representative, in which case they are known as the administrator.

Making the most of different solutions

Decreasing term assurance

Decreasing term assurance can be arranged to cover a potential Inheritance Tax liability and used as a Gift Inter Vivos policy (a gift given during the life of the grantor who no longer has any rights to the property and can not get it back without the permission of the party it was gifted to). This is a type of decreasing term plan that actually reduces at the same rate as the chargeable Inheritance Tax on an estate as a result of a Potentially Exempt Transfer (PET).