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New Year Financial Opportunities

Investment & Wealth Advice




Kick start 2021 with a fresh look at your finances

This new year, above all others, is the perfect opportunity to review your financial affairs given the challenges of 2020. With another national lockdown underway, now is a good time to check that your investments, pensions and estate plans are all on track to achieve your financial goals. Here are some pointers to get you started…

1. Your Investments

Step back, review and reassess your investments
The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit mean that economic and stock market uncertainty is likely to continue as we enter 2021. This will no doubt be unnerving for some investors, but the key is not to panic or make any knee-jerk reactions.
 
Take a step back and review your long-term strategy to ensure your financial goals remain on track.
 
It doesn’t always take a global crisis for people’s financial circumstances to change, but inevitably there will be some who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. And this is where financial advice can help.
 
ISA tax allowance: use it or lose it
If you don’t use your ISA allowance for this tax year (currently £20,000), you will lose it forever. This includes Junior ISAs, which have a limit of £9,000 and could benefit your children or grandchildren. Just like an adult ISA, you can choose to shelter investment income and gains in a tax efficient wrapper but unlike the adult ISA, the money is locked away until the child turns 18, at which point he or she gains full control of the pot. 

2. Your Pension

Watch out for the lifetime pension limit
The lifetime limit for pension funds has been around since 2006 to cap the value of a person’s total tax-relieved funds and the standard lifetime allowance in 2020/21 is £1,073,100 which increases annually in line with CPI. If the allowance is exceeded there are additional tax charges at up to 55%. Protection of larger funds up to £1.25m may be possible however this can be a complex area and you should seek advice.. Understanding where your fund sits in relation to the lifetime allowance may help you to avoid unexpected charges and allow you to continue to save tax efficiently.
 
Ensure you have enough for retirement
Cash flow planning is an indispensable tool when it comes to investing for retirement – but it is also crucial once you have retired. The closure of many final salary pension schemes and the relaxing of rules around taking benefits means that retirees have both more freedom and more responsibility for managing their own finances. Many will remain exposed to the ups and downs of financial markets for a longer period of time. 

As a result, thorough scenario planning is vital and so it is worth asking where your income will be coming from: whether your various pension and investment pots are working as hard for you as they could be; whether you are paying higher fees than you should; and whether you are making full use of your annual tax allowances.
 
…and use up unused backdated pension limits
For most people the annual contribution limit is £40,000. Unused capacity can be carried forward for three years, but is then lost, so a review of the past three years’ contributions could reveal more opportunities to save tax efficiently for retirement.

3. Your Estate

Keep it in the family
Family is likely to have been at the forefront of your minds over Christmas and as you enter a new year it is worthwhile checking whether your succession plans are in good shape. IHT, for instance, is a 40% tax imposed on the worldwide estate of anyone who is UK-domiciled on all assets above £325,000 – but with careful preparation and planning, you can make sure that your estate doesn’t pay any more inheritance tax than it needs to.
 
Work out what your own needs are and set aside a core wealth pot to cover them. Then create a plan to generate the level of income required to maintain your lifestyle – this does not necessarily depend on keeping underlying capital. Once you have done the maths, you will have a clear idea of how generous you can be with your capital and that generosity can then flow through to a reduction in your IHT estate.
 
Check your pension beneficiaries are up to date
Unlike your investments or cash savings, pensions do not typically form part of your taxable estate and so can be free of IHT. To ensure your pensions are passed to your loved ones in line with your wishes and maximising flexibility in how they receive the benefits, you should ensure a nomination of beneficiaries is completed.

…and be as generous as you can
Remember that anyone can currently gift £3,000 each year free of any IHT.

How Weatherbys can help

At Weatherbys we take a holistic view of your current assets and future spending requirements. We use this information and work with you to develop a cash flow plan that helps you to map out your fiscal requirements and demonstrate how various different scenarios might affect those needs. However, as we all know, life does not move in a straight line and there will be occasions when your cash flow plan will need re-evaluating. If your circumstances have changed or you simply want a review as we head into the new year, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with your Private Banker and we will rerun your plan for you.

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Tax laws are subject to change and taxation will vary depending on individual circumstances. The value of an investment and its income can both increase and decrease and you may not get back the full amount originally invested.

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