You and Your Money
Business and personal finance journalist Terri Doyle brings you the latest money news, plus hints and tips on how to make the most of what you’ve got
Future proof your finances
Kelly Greig, a post-retirement specialist at city law firm Irwin Mitchell, has some advice for anyone who wants to stay on top of their finances. ‘Keep it simple,’ says Kelly. ‘For a start, everyone from the age of 18 needs a lasting power of attorney. It’s like a seatbelt – if you never need it, that’s fine. But if the worst happens, it’s invaluable. If you lose your mental capacity, you will need people to act for you and, without a power of attorney, the people closest to you will have to apply to the courts, which can take up to six months.
‘Give careful consideration, too, to whom you appoint. It has to be someone you trust, and they should also have the time and the inclination to take on the role. Realistically, they should be younger than you. Your peers are likely to be in a similar position to you, so may not be able to fulfil that task. And there should be no conflict of interests. So, for instance, what’s best for a child living rent-free with a parent is unlikely to be best for the parent.
‘It’s crucial, too, to make a will. It’s another protection measure and ensures that your money will go where you want it. It lets you appoint an executor – consider the same qualities you’d look for in a power of attorney – and can deal with your finances.
‘Trusts may be appropriate – again, to ensure your assets are protected and end up where you want them to go. Lifetime tax planning can avoid taxes on death, so it’s important to take proper advice. If you look at these three areas at the same time, it will stand you in good stead as they are all interlinked… and it’s never too soon to start.’
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has written to the Office of Taxation Simplification, asking them to carry out an inheritance tax (IHT) review and submit proposals to simplify it, as it is seen as being particularly complex. This is an initiative that has been welcomed by many people.
Modern IHT dates back to the late 19th century, when the government introduced estate duty – a tax on the capital value of land – in a bid to raise money to pay off a £4m government deficit. Since then the rules have been frequently amended and updated. Watch this space!
Six in ten eligible pensioners fail to claim their full state benefit entitlement. Which is why McCarthy Stone’s customers entitlements advice service – which helps residents understand the allowances they’re entitled to and how much they can expect to receive – is so important.
For Daphne Thompson, who lives at the Stillington Oaks development in Easingwold, a meeting with Aleks Clayton, Entitlements Advisor for the North, brought real returns. After checking to see if Daphne was eligible for any benefits, Aleks sat down with her to complete all the paperwork.
Daphne recalls, ‘When I got a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions saying I was eligible for a monthly allowance that would make my financial situation a bit more comfortable, I thought it was too good to be true. Aleks’ help and advice has had a big impact on my retirement.
If I’m in town with heavy shopping, I can get a taxi home rather than have to wait for a bus. Or I can get my hair done at the hairdresser’s instead of doing it myself. It’s the little things like this that have made all the difference.’
To boost your chances of not having to claim on your holiday insurance, the Association of British Insurers suggests:
- Get a European Health Insurance Card. It’s free and allows you to get treatment when travelling in Europe on the same basis as residents.
- Check the advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for your destination.
- Apply for any visas and check your passport will be valid for at least six months at the time you travel.
- Get vaccinations and medications that you may require at least six weeks before you go.
- Tell your insurer about any medical conditions when you take out your policy. And let them know of any changes.
- Give family or friends contact details, photocopies of your passport and any visas, insurance policy and itinerary.
- Note down your insurer’s emergency assistance number.
Power of attorney cashback
If you applied to register a power of attorney in England or Wales from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2017, you’ve been overcharged and can now get a refund of up to £54. The claim can be made by the ‘donor’ (the person who made the power of attorney) or an ‘attorney’ appointed by the donor, though the refund must be paid to the donor. Making a claim online takes just 10 minutes.
Go to https://www.claim-power-of-attorney-refund.service.gov.uk. Or call 0300 456 0300 (option 6).