Knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of after you’re gone can be a great source of comfort. The best ways to ensure this are by writing a Will, through knowing about and preparing for Inheritance Tax and, if you’re yet to retire, looking at how you might share your pension with your partner or dependents.
Here are a few things you may wish to consider:
Writing a Will
The best – and most straightforward – way to ensure that loved ones are taken care of after you die is by writing a Will. A Will is a legal document that sets out what you want to happen to your Estate – your property, bank accounts and other possessions – once you die. It is normal to leave the bulk of your estate to your partner and/or children, depending on who may still be alive.
You may have made a Will earlier in life – it’s common to do so after getting married or having children – but your circumstances may have changed, so it might be a good idea to revise your Will. A lawyer or solicitor can help you with this.
Inheritance Tax Planning
An Inheritance Tax (IHT) of 40% applies to Estates worth over a certain threshold, although there are exemptions and reliefs available, such as those for charitable donations and gifts, that may help reduce this rate.
As well as small cash gifts to individuals, donations to your husband, wife or civil partner, certain charities and other institutions like museums, universities and the National Trust are tax-free and may help reduce any IHT you may owe. Note that if you’re unmarried or with a partner but not in a registered civil partnership, cash gifts are liable for tax.
For more information about IHT, see the government’s website.
Think about your pension
In terms of pension arrangements, some annuities (called Dependent’s pensions) can be payable to your partner or spouse should you die first. The government has also announced changes to the way that pension pots may be passed on, as part of the new rules coming in from April 2015.
Under the changes, you will be able to pass on your pension pot to loved ones, who will only pay their ‘marginal’ tax rate (e.g. Income tax at 20%, 40% or 45%, depending on their earnings and how much you leave), rather than the 55% tax rate levied at the moment. For more information about the changes to pensions, download our ‘Guide to pension changes’.
As with all major financial planning issues, it is a good idea to talk to a financial adviser before making any decisions.
This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.