The essence of a Financial Plan is to manage your family's future, but research states that most people are ignoring their Plan in their Will. Here's why you should make sure your Financial Plan is taken into account when you speak to your Solicitor.
A Financial Plan looks at your goals and gives practical advice for your future, in order to manage and grow your wealth. It takes into account your finances, debt, investments, trusts, Wills and inheritance in order to provide you with the best course of action, both for you and your family, now and in the future.
Your Will determines what happens to these assets in the event of your death, so it would be natural to assume that your Will would consider your Financial Plan. Yet less than one in ten advisers (8%) said all of their advice is taken on board in the Will, with one in twenty admitting that none of their advice is included. So why is financial advice not crossing the threshold when people consider creating a Will?
Neil Jones, a tax and wealth specialist with Canada Life, said there remains a disconnect between solicitors, accountants and advisers when it comes to estate planning.
He said: “Unfortunately, it’s often the advisers’ work that is left out in the cold and this could be to the detriment of the beneficiaries. Obviously questions around trusts, gifting and annual tax-free allowances are areas where anyone writing a Will should be listening to the financial experts.
"The problems don’t even need to be that complex to need an adviser. Usually the adviser simply has a better grasp than anyone else of where the assets are, their tax status and the impact of any gifting."
Chesterton House Financial Planning Manager, Dave Jones, said that whilst a client is likely to appreciate the benefits of their Financial Plan, they may not fully understand the work going on behind the scenes to ensure this happens.
"If asked by a solicitor whether they have any qualifying Business Property, or have made any Potentially Exempt Transfers, or how much life insurance they have and whether or not it is held in trust, clients may not be able to provide an accurate answer. These are potentially very important points when it comes to drafting a Will, so it is only with the assistance of their Financial Planner that the best result can be achieved.”
More importantly, our experience has been that, sadly, many solicitors do not even ask these questions when they are asked to create a Will for a client. This is especially true for the new breed of Will Writers who often advertise their services on the basis of low cost, but don’t have adequate training to understand the importance of taking into account all of a client’s assets when writing their Will.
One important aspect to consider is a pension. Because many pension schemes won’t pay any death benefits to the client’s estate, there is the danger they may be overlooked during the Will writing process. Yet it isn’t unusual for an individual’s pension fund to be their biggest asset, sometimes worth more than their home. The position around pension death benefits can be complicated, requiring the knowledge and skills of a competent Financial Planner.
“In addition,” says Dave Jones, "some very common pension schemes, such as NEST (which has over 8 million members) are likely to pay death benefits to the individual’s estate, making those pension funds potentially subject to Inheritance Tax. This may be something that solicitors are not routinely asking their clients about, which a Financial Planner would be able to find a solution to."
At Chesterton House, our Financial Planners meet with their clients at least once a year, and gain a deep understanding of what is truly important to them as well as having a detailed picture of their financial position. When it’s time to create or update a Will, our Legal Team works with the Client’s Financial Planner to ensure that their Solicitor has an appreciation of the client’s position, even before they have met.
Conversely, where an individual has approached us to help write their Will, their Solicitor will suggest bringing in a Financial Planner to the conversation if needed, in order to ensure that the client gets the best advice possible.
It’s this joined up service that makes Chesterton House unique when working to deliver the best outcome for our clients, with a breadth of specialist expertise in the areas of legacy planning, tax, law, investments, pensions and insurance. Many of our clients already enjoy the benefits of this approach, and can be confident that their Financial Plan dovetails with their Will to ensure that their wishes are carried out, that they pay the least tax, and that their family are protected.
Why not give us a call today to see how we can help you to do the same?