In financial planning businesses such as our own, a relatively small proportion of our time is spent dealing with the implementation and servicing of financial products on behalf of our clients. Because financial planning is so much deeper than simply putting products in place.
Instead our clients today come to us with relatively simple questions (that are in fact quite complex) such as "Will we always be ok?" or "Have we enough money?" There are no easy answers to these ones! Because to answer them, we need to know what sort of a life you want to lead, and then we need to put a cost on that life. It's only then that we can start to develop a financial plan to help you achieve that life, help you build a risk appropriate investment portfolio, plan for your retirement and protect yourself if that's what your plan requires.
But sometimes our clients approach us about other financial challenges they might have, or indeed simply want to bounce ideas off us! We’re delighted to help and give you an opinion if we can. And if we can’t help you directly ourselves, we often know someone who can actually help you.
Here are some of the areas we've been asked about.
Tax Advice for Individuals
Business owners and professionals will usually have an accountant. Many PAYE workers don’t. That doesn't mean that you can’t benefit from tax advice; some of you may want information about annual gift exemptions, others may want general tax advice. We've been asked many tax questions over the years. With some of these, we can give you the answer. However if we can’t help you ourselves, we have relationships with some accountancy and tax firms that will provide you with the services you need.
Advice about Bank Accounts
We came across a situation some time back with a client where neither their bank manager nor their accountant had spoken to them about the importance of having multiple signatories on their bank accounts, both personal and business accounts. We believe that this is simple, practical advice in most situations, but of course each situation should be looked at on it’s own merits. Unfortunately in this particular case the client died and his wife ended up in an awful situation of being unable to access his / their money without jumping through all types of legal hoops… This is an area you should consider – would a death or incapacity of one of you be made worse by being unable to access cash in bank accounts?
Enduring Power of Attorney
This is a legal document that can be set up by a person during their life when in good mental health. It allows another specially appointed person to take actions on their behalf should they become incapacitated through illness in the future. This prevents assets being frozen and going under the control of the courts, and allows the person acting on your behalf to make a range of personal care decisions on your behalf.
Anyone who has been through this situation, needing to access the assets of a relative who has lost their mental capacity (e.g. to pay for their care) will know the value of having an enduring power of attorney in place. It can be incredibly frustrating being unable to carry out simple actions on the person’s behalf without it.
At the same time, many people also draw up a “Living Will” which captures their preferences in relation to areas such as end of life care, their preferences in terms of resuscitation etc. when very ill or close to death.
We suggest that you give this some thought and if it is something you want to progress; the best place to start is with your solicitor. They will talk you through the process and then draw up the papers that are needed to put the enduring power of attorney in place.
Yes we still come across clients from time to time who don’t have a will in place. We always strongly suggest that you get this in place. It is a relatively simple process, usually carried out with the help of a solicitor. However the benefits are significant. It enables you to ensure your assets are distributed as you intend on your death and that this process is carried out as painlessly as possible.
These are just some of the areas that we've been asked about. While our primary role is to help you build a robust financial plan and then put in place financial solutions to achieve your financial objectives, we've a pretty broad perspective of a range of related areas. So don’t be afraid to ask! As we said earlier, if we can’t help you, we probably know someone who can.