How did you keep busy during lockdown?
Some people took to gardening, DIY, exercise, drawing and a whole range of other activities.
Others took lockdown as an opportunity to sort out the dreaded paperwork- sifting through all the drawers, folders and cabinets, trying to piece together the information.
As mentioned in our previous blog, according to a study by AA Financial Services, 77% of UK adults have admitted that lockdown has made them reconsider their financial resolutions for the upcoming months. 91% of people under 35 also have this belief. 22% of over 55’s were more likely to put away more savings than they had done before lockdown.
However, when you’ve got several years’ worth of paperwork lying around, it gets a little bit more complicated than just ‘I need to save more’.
In fact, a lot of the time, people don’t have any idea how much they actually have, or how much they’ll need for the future!
If anything, COVID-19 has proved that the unexpected CAN happen, so it’s never too early to organise how you can protect your assets and give security to your family should the worst happen to you.
So if you’re in that category of people wanting to organise yourself, and your finances, then the checklist we’ve put together is just what you need right now. Run down each step and think about your own circumstances and what else you could be doing to protect you (and your assets) should the unexpected happen.
- Update Your Will
If you own assets, you need a will. It’s pretty simple. If you don’t, you leave your estate open to the laws of Intestacy. Really, you should never let it get to that stage, but if you want to understand more about the rules, they can be found on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will.
If you already have a will, just make sure it is completely up to date and look to review it annually.
Although we can’t write a new will for you, we can refer you to a solicitor who we know can help.
- Appoint a Power of Attorney
Creating a Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf if you are no longer capable, or just want someone else to manage it for you. There are two different types; one relating to your Properties & Finances and the other relating to your Health & Welfare.
Creating a Power of Attorney can be highly beneficial should you become temporarily (or in worse cases, permanently) incapacitated in some way or another. If you required some form of treatment, or quick access to funds, without a Power of Attorney in place your family would need to go through the Court of Protection to gain access. Not just initially, but every time they would need to do this. Not only can this become extremely time-consuming (which can be hugely stressful for your family should you need urgent care), it can also become extremely expensive – each case potentially costing over £1,000, which far outweighs the cost of having a Power of Attorney put in place.
Again, we can’t do this for you, but we can point you in the direction of a trusted solicitor.
- Collate all your Existing Policy Documents (Pensions & Investments)
Rummage through where you keep your files and collate all of your policy paperwork. Sift through each document and make note of provider names and policy numbers. It can be useful to make note of the last valuation you received for each plan, then total them all up to see where you currently stand (not just for you, but for your Solicitor/Financial Adviser).
Keep any insurance policies aside, that bit comes later… let’s do one thing at a time!
- State Pensions
Upon reviewing your Personal (or Occupational) Pension plans, you can also look into what State Pension you could look to receive using a BR19 form which can be found on the Government website. A lot of people forget to include this figure when trying to plan for retirement and it does make a lot of difference.
- Beneficiary Forms/Expression of Wish
Where your will is used to divide your estate up in the event of your death, Pensions are held outside of your estate, and are therefore not encompassed within your will. So, you need to complete an Expression of Wish or Beneficiary Form. You can ask your Financial Adviser or Pension provider to help you review an existing form if you’ve completed one before OR request a new form.
- Insurance Policies
Now that you’ve sorted your Pensions and Investments we can start looking at Insurance Plans/Policies. First, simply list the amount of cover you have with each plan along with the corresponding end date. Next, think about your current circumstances and whether your existing level of cover is still suitable or not. Lastly, review the end dates of each plan and consider arranging new policies.
Once you’ve reviewed your own circumstances and are confident everything you need to cover every eventuality is in place, it may be worth taking some time to think about the people around you. Although you might be in a comfortable position, some are far less fortunate and now could be the best time to lend a helping hand. Whether that’s in the form of a gift or charitable donation. Each have their own benefits (some assisting with reducing potential IHT liabilities) and are well worth considering – now more than ever!