Financial planning

Family and Business Income Protection: Including life assurance and insurance against serious illness

The cost of protecting yourself, your dependants and your business partners from the financial implications of a serious illness or even death has been falling over the years and as a result most people would now be able to save money simply by updating their existing policies. Premiums have just started to rise again however and this trend looks set to continue. So, if you want to review the adequacy of your current cover and want to keep your costs down, you should do it now.

Mortgages: Including House Purchase, Re-mortgages (for both personal and business purposes), as well as Buy-to Let

House values have gone through the roof and now represent a valuable resource for those who want to raise finance regardless of purpose. More importantly, however, with interest rates at the lowest level they have been for over 40 years and, with competition between the lenders so high, it would also be a very good time to review your current mortgage arrangements. For instance, by tying into a low rate now, you could continue to save a great deal of money for many years to come.

Lump Sum Investments & Regular Savings Plans: From simple Deposit Accounts and ISAs to Offshore and Onshore Unit Trusts, OEICs and Investment Trusts

Over the last three years investment markets have fallen by record levels. Many investors have 'stuck with' their investments in the hope that they can now perhaps look forward to getting back some of their losses. Some investments will do better than others as and when the recovery occurs, thus a thorough investment review now could prove to be very beneficial over both the short and the long term.

Pensions: Including all Company and Personal Pensions Schemes

The Labour Government is currently reviewing their plans for the future of pensions in the UK and some changes may become law by April 2004. It is our belief that once the new rules are known every individual and company alike will have to review their existing plans to see how they will be affected by the changes. In the meantime therefore we are advising our clients to check with us before committing to any new pension contracts.

Equity Release Schemes: Including Home Reversion

This is a very clever way of getting an income from your home and is rapidly gaining appeal with our clients aged 60 or more where they are short on income but own homes that are worth many thousand of pounds more following the recent surge in house prices. Normally this increase in wealth is meaningless as it is only of value if one is prepared to sell up. Fortunately Equity Release Schemes now enable people to benefit from this value themselves, either as a lump sum payment or as a regular monthly income, and still retain ownership.

Long Term Care Insurance

The need for long-term care and how it should be paid for is arguably the greatest cause for concern among our growing elderly population. In response the insurance industry has developed a range of solutions to meet the increasing demand. It is, however, a complex decision making process and is it often left to the last minute when emotions run high and mistakes can easily be made. Thus independent advice will prove to be essential and ideally this should be sought sooner than later.

Inheritance Tax planning: From simple life insurance solutions to sophisticated Offshore Trusts

Inheritance Tax is payable at a rate of 40% on the value of your assets over and above £255,000. For example if you are worth £355,000 when you die, your beneficiaries stand to pay £40,000 in tax.

Although aimed initially at the "wealthy" these people end up paying very little tax as they both know of and are able to take a number of simple steps to avoid it (for instance despite her wealth the Queen Mother died with a £4 million overdraft)

Unfortunately, however, house prices alone in this area mean that many more "ordinary" people are now being caught by this tax and it is they who are often unaware of what to do. In order to avoid this we would recommend that clients take advantage of our IHT Review service as soon as possible.

Lacy Watson Financial Services Ltd is an Appointed Representative of Halebarns Financial Planning Ltd