We all have dreams – let us help you to achieve your lifetime goals and make them a reality.
Key Features of our lifetime financial plan include;
- Timeline – used to define key life stages and events; helps to foresee critical obstacles and strategic opportunities
- Simulations/Illustrations – demonstrate the impact of “what if” scenarios; such as the impact of major purchases, increased savings or reduced income due to poor health
- Real-Time Snapshots – compare current account balances to established goals; define and track action items
Many financial decisions are made in situations of uncertainty, and so risk is involved. Different people are comfortable with different levels of risk. A person’s risk tolerance is the level of risk with which he or she is comfortable.
The whole issue of risk is a difficult one. Risk aversion prevents many of us from doing as well as we might financially. Yet some of life’s most unpleasant financial surprises arise because we were exposed to a level of risk beyond our comfort zone. It can be equally disappointing to miss an opportunity because someone else wrongly assumed we would not be willing to take the risk involved.
There is no unit of measurement for risk tolerance. A person’s risk tolerance can only be measured relative to others on a constructed scale, in much the same way as IQ is measured.
So, clients face a double challenge:
- Firstly, in making an accurate and meaningful assessment of their willingness to accept risk as they perceive it, and
- Secondly, in expressing this assessment in such a way that both what they already have in place, and the alternatives now on offer to them, can be evaluated in terms of their risk tolerance.
We use the Fina Metrica Personal Financial Profiling system to assist clients in meeting this challenge.
We ask you to complete a questionnaire in which you are asked about your attitudes, values and experiences. Your answers are scored against the system’s database and used to produce a detailed report. The questionnaire takes about 15 minutes to complete.
By using the Fina Metrica system, you can obtain an accurate assessment of your risk tolerance in terms that are meaningful to you.
Your Risk Profile report will guide you in your financial decision making.
School Fees & University Education
If you wish your children or grandchildren to be educated privately the cost could be very substantial. The cost of University fees can be a burden for young people leaving them with debt. Early planning can reduce the cost considerably.
Mortgages are a part of every day life and although we do not arrange mortgages, we are pleased to give general advice, in the context of financial planning, and refer you on to specialists who will be able to help you in this area.
Be aware that failure to keep up your mortgage repayments could result in your home being repossessed, so taking expert advice on a mortgage could be one of the most important things you do.
Most people find it useful to record all their day to day expenses on our Estimated Living Expenses form.
This helps in keeping track of where they are spending their income and highlights any areas that need to be reviewed.
Where clients wish us to provide an ongoing review service we can arrange to supply yearly or six monthly portfolio valuations together with regular meetings to keep your financial objectives and attitude to risk on track.
It is prudent to set aside a reasonable amount of cash for emergencies.
Ideally, this should be equivalent of three months net income and should be held in an easy access deposit account.
We can ensure that you are claiming all the allowances to which you are entitled.
Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance is a tax-free benefit for children and adults who need help with personal care or have walking difficulties because they are physically or mentally disabled.
You may get Disability Living Allowance if:
- You have a physical or mental disability, or both
- Your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or you have walking disabilities, or both
- You are under 65 when you claim
You can get Disability Allowance whether you work or not and it is not affected by any savings or income you may have.
Disability Living Allowance has two parts called ‘components’:
- A care component – if you need help looking after yourself or supervision to keep safe
- A mobility component – if you cannot walk or need help getting around
Some people will be entitled to just one component; others may get both. The care component and mobility component are paid at different rates depending on how your disability affects you.
Tax Credits are payments from the Government. If you are responsible for at least one child or young person who normally lives with you, you may qualify for Child Tax Credits.
If you work, but earn low wages, you may qualify for Working Tax Credits.
The amount you receive depends upon:
- How many children you have living with you
- Whether you work and how many hours you work
- If you pay for childcare
- If you or any child living with you has a disability
- If you are aged 50 and over and are coming off benefits
Your payments also depend on your income. The lower your income, the more tax credits you can get.
If your circumstances change it can effect the amount of money you should be getting.
We recognise that the breakdown of a relationship can be a traumatic time. Alongside the raft of emotions that are experienced by the every member of the family unit, there can be challenging demands arising from the management of practicalities such as the financial aspects of owning a house and sharing savings including pension rights.
Invariably, there is a conflict of interests:
- Who owns what?
- Who pays the mortgage?
- What are your rights?
- How will any maintenance continue on the death of your partner?
As in all crises sourcing independent help at the right time can alleviate the pressure of the circumstances.
Mediation is one solution which aims to bring both parties to point of agreement, at a much reduced financial cost than that of settlement through litigation, which can feasibly accumulate costs in the region £15,000 – £20,000.
At Strategic our bespoke service can provide impartial assistance to all parties. We seek to ensure that our involvement in the process empowers the individuals involved to remain at the helm of a rational decision making process thereby minimising the potential risk of longer term recriminations.
In addition If you are entitled to a pension share we are experts in researching the options available to you.
Inheritance Tax Planning
Do you really want to leave part of your Estate to HM Government?
If you want to leave more of what you own to the people you love and less to the taxman, it’s worth looking at Inheritance Tax Planning.
There are ways to reduce inheritance tax and we can offer advice which will allow you to reduce your liability. This can be in the form of setting up lifetime Trusts or making Potentially Exempt Transfers during your lifetime.
If you are married or are registered as Civil Partners you have the choice of leaving all to your surviving spouse/partner on first death or leaving some of your Estate to other beneficiaries.
Transfers between spouses
Any money or assets passed from husband to wife/civil partner or vice versa, are exempt from Inheritance Tax as long as you both live permanently in the UK.
Annual gifts of £3,000
If you can afford it, this is a useful exemption as you can give up to £3,000 worth of gifts in total each year, during your lifetime, to whoever you like, Inheritance Tax-Free.
Gifts from income
This is an exemption that is often overlooked – you can make regular gifts of as much as you like during your lifetime, as long as they are from surplus income (income that you do not need to meet your normal day to day expenses). However, you do not want these gifts to affect your standard of living, or HM Revenue and Customs could decide that these are not exempt.
Small gifts of up to £250
As well as your annual £3,000 exemption, you can also make gifts of up to £250 a year to each of as many people as you like during your lifetime – as long as they are not the same people who receive the £3,000 ‘annual’ gift. If the total gifted to any person in one tax year exceeds £250, however, you will not be able to use the small gifts exemption at all for that person, even in respect of the first £250.
Gifts on marriage
You can give £5,000 to each child, £2,500 each grandchild or more distant relative and £1,000 to friends when they get married.
Gifts to Charities
Any gifts to charities are exempt from Inheritance Tax, as are gifts to some National Institutions such as Universities, and to UK political parties.
Potentially Exempt Transfers
Other absolute gifts, which are not covered by any of the exemptions, are called Potentially Exempt Transfers (PETs). Here is how they work:
- Survive 7 years from the date of making the gift and no Inheritance Tax is payable on the gift
- Survive less than seven years and Inheritance Tax is payable if your Estate, including those gifts, exceeds the available Nil Rate Band at your death.
- Survive more than three years but less than seven and the amount of Inheritance Tax payable on the gift, if any, is reduced on a sliding scale depending on the number of years you have lived since making the gift.
PETs are a useful way of reducing a potential Inheritance Tax bill but it is important to remember that gifts have to be outright to qualify. If you make a gift with ?strings attached?, then HM Revenue and Customs may consider it to be what is known as a ‘gift with reservation’, and it will still count as part of your Estate , no matter how long you survive after making it.
For example, if you give your house to your children and carry on living there without paying a market rent, the value of your house will still be included in your Estate for the purpose of calculating any Inheritance Tax bill.
As long as the total value of what you leave behind (your Estate) is less than or equal to £325,000 (2011/2012), there would not currently be any Inheritance Tax to pay. Anything above this £325,000 limit could be taxed at 40% unless any exemptions or reliefs apply.
If you are a widow or widower and your deceased spouse did not use the whole of his or her Nil Rate Band, you can increase the Nil Rate Band applicable at your death by the unused proportion from your deceased spouse.
Speak to us about the option available.
Gifts & Trusts
Setting up a trust is a way of giving assets away to other people without necessarily giving them full control. Putting assets in a trust is a way to possibly exclude those assets when calculating your Inheritance Tax liability on death.
They are useful in protecting assets for future generations and vulnerable beneficiaries. Life Assurance policies, pension death benefits and many other assets can be put into trust.
Trusts are a great way of helping to get assets out of your estate, but still leaving you some control over what happens to them.
If assets are in trust at your death, they are available to your trustees immediately, without waiting for Probate. They can pass them to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust.
There are four main types of trust:
Bare (Absolute) Trusts
The main purpose of a bare or absolute trust is for the main trustees to hold assets for the beneficiaries, to be released when required.
Interest in possession Trusts
With this type of trusts, the beneficiaries have a right to the income from the trust, if the trust assets produce an income. Ultimately, any capital remaining will also be distributed.
Here the trustees have discretion over what happens to the income throughout the lifetime of the trust. There is usually a wide range of beneficiaries, but no specific beneficiary has the right to income from the trust.
Accumulation and maintenance Trust
The trustees have discretion over what happens to the income for a period of time, but a beneficiary will become entitled to the income or the trust assets on reaching a specific age not over 25. These types of trust are no longer relevant since 22 March 2006.
If you need assistance in this area we can probably help, either in a practical way, such as, completing probate forms or in complicated cases referring you on to specialists.
Within two years of death it is currently possible to rewrite a Will by means of a Deed of Family Arrangement if all affected beneficiaries are in agreement.
Why pay more tax than you need to?
With our help you may be able to reduce your Personal Income Tax, Capital Gain Tax, Inheritance Tax and Corporation Tax (where applicable).
If your tax affairs are complex we can refer you to an Accountant or liaise with your existing accountant, if you so wish.
We can show you how to minimise future tax liabilities through our Financial Planning advice.
If you do not write a Will you could cause profound problems for the loved ones you leave behind.
Under the Laws of Intestacy, which apply if you do not leave a valid Will, your Estate may not necessarily pass to those who you would wish to benefit. This is especially so where you are in a common law relationship and your rights may be limited. The Law proscribes how assets are to be distributed amongst relatives.
The cost of making a Will, from around £100, is insignificant compared with the potential savings when dealing with the administration of your Estate.
If you have not already made a Will you are strongly advised to do so and we would be pleased to assist you in this regard. Likewise, if you have not reviewed your existing Will for some time perhaps now is that time.