New year, new you? There’s no better time to get on top of your life admin

New year, new you? There’s no better time to get on top of your life admin

2020 was certainly a difficult year and while the New Year could look to be off to a similar start, it’s important to remain positive and look to the light at the end of the tunnel with the news of the Covid vaccines arriving.

It’s also true that for many of us, the last year provided a chance to re-evaluate what is most important to us. While we look forward to a time in 2021 when some restrictions are relaxed, now could be the perfect time to get on top of the important ‘life admin’ which can often fall by the wayside.  Some of the things which it may be worthwhile thinking about include:

  • Planning your finances for the year ahead
  • Sorting out all the things you need to do before the end of the tax year
  • Whether a power of attorney is right for you
  • Do you need to update your succession plans?

We can help you set achievable goals and make that ’life admin’ much easier.

Planning your finances

With the challenges we continue to face with the pandemic way of life, now is the time to get on top of your finances, particularly tax planning and investments.

Effective tax planning can not only maximise your income and improve your saving options, it can also preserve your wealth for your family.  With the end of the tax year not far off, make sure you take advantage of the many different allowances you might be entitled to – you don’t want to find yourself paying more in tax than needed. For example:

  • ISAs allow your capital to grow tax-free (the current adult allowance is £20,000 while children can save up to £9,000 in a Junior ISA).
  • Contributions to your pension also attract favourable tax treatment so you can top up your pension pot before 5 April 2021 to make full use of your annual allowance.

When it comes to planning your finances and investing Anderson Strathern Asset Management can provide independent financial advice tailored to your circumstances.

Do I need a power of attorney?

With concern about illness meaning you may not be able to do things for yourself, or ‘losing capacity’, temporarily or otherwise, having been all too real in this last year, it’s important to consider putting in place a power of attorney to give you the security should you need a little help in life at one stage or another. Putting one in place ensures that you can get the right help when you need it most.

A power of attorney allows you to choose the people you trust and give them the authority to act for you in certain circumstances. This can range from simple things, such as having someone pay the bills while you are unable to get to the bank, to more difficult scenarios, such as making decisions for you about your care when you are no longer able to make these choices for yourself.

A power of attorney can also sit alongside an Advance Medical Directive, or ‘living will’, which allows you to set down your thoughts on how you might wish to deal with an illness in the future.

These documents can, however, only be prepared when you are well and have capacity, so we recommend putting them in place as early as possible. This creates certainty for the future and can alleviate stress on loved ones at difficult times. It can also give you peace of mind knowing that the ones you love can look after you the way you would want them to.

Why do I need a will?

Putting a will in place allows you to have more control over how your estate is distributed after your death and ensures that your loved ones will benefit in the way that you want them to.

However, more than half of the UK population do not have a will, meaning that their estates risk ‘falling into intestacy’. In Scotland that means any assets will be distributed according to a strict set of rules which have been in place since the 1960’s.  As a result, these rules don’t generally match with modern family structures. For example, step-children are not catered for and cohabitants have very limited rights. The intestacy rules mean that there’s a risk some family members could end up being disinherited or receiving less than you and they might otherwise have expected. Having a will, on the other hand, ensures your wishes can be followed and will bring you peace of mind should the worst happen.

Preparing a will also provides an ideal opportunity to consider inheritance tax planning and wealth protection options. This will allow you not only to maximise the benefit that your family receives from your estate, but also to ensure your finances are safeguarded for the future.

And if you own a family business you may also want to consider putting a succession plan in place for the next generation, read our great expectations article for some useful information on transition planning for a business.

What if I already have a will?

You may already have a will in place, but when was the last time you reviewed it? In truth, a will should actually be treated as a ‘living’ document and kept up to date as life changes and develops. Following the events of 2020, should you consider reviewing and revising what you currently have in place?

We recommend that wills are reviewed,, as a minimum, when there is a birth, marriage, divorce, or death in the family. So, we’d recommend you look out your will and read it over. Check the beneficiaries – have there been any new additions to the family (e.g. children, grandchildren, etc.), since you last signed your will? Does it still reflect your wishes today? If not, you should get it updated and restore your peace of mind.

This year: let’s leave 2020 behind and take a little time to plan for your future. Get in touch with our Private Client experts and let us help you start off the New Year with your best foot forward.

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