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Financial Planning

Retirement & Pension Planning

Everyone needs to plan for their retirement. People are living longer and healthier lives, so it's even more important to think about how and when to save for retirement and how long to continue working.
Pensions can be confusing and many people don't know where to begin, especially when there are so many other things to pay for. A pension is one of the most effective ways to save for retirement because you can get tax relief on the money you pay in.
The array of choices and complexity when considering the best route for pension planning makes this subject a very difficult one to tackle on your own and one which requires considerable expertise and advice from a specialist independent adviser.
Call us today to find out how we can help you.
Telephone +44 (0)208 4646 430, Email

Savings & Investment Planning

Financial planning is an all encompassing phrase that means nothing unless you consider the individual components that are required to determine a sound financial planning strategy.

As part of a comprehensive financial planning service, we will consider details of your existing finances and arrangements and then compliment them with a practical action plan, which should enable you to generate tax efficient wealth in the future.

Such aspects are likely to include:

  • Efficient tax planning to make use of tax allowances and investment tax breaks available, e.g. ISAs
  • Considering how best to utilise tax and investment allowances that your children may not have utilised
  • The use of your annual capital gains tax allowances where capital can be generated tax free for your collective investments
  • The use of graded funds from lower risk high yielding funds to full equity managed funds as a means of tax sheltering capital growth until your taxable income reduces in retirement
  • The uses of trusts and life assurance to assist in your estate and succession planning as a means of continuing the wealth you have created for future generations.

Naturally, these aspects are not exhaustive and very much depend upon your personal circumstances and requirements.

As specialist independent advisers we are well versed in assimilating and providing solutions for your needs - often with a hectic life, the time and effort required to do this is not available without outside assistance.

Call us today to find out how we can help you.
Telephone +44 (0)208 4646 430, Email

Inheritance Tax Planning

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is a tax levied at death on estates valued in excess of £312,000 (tax year 2008/9) or £624,000 in total for married couples and civil partnerships.
Obviously a great many clients will need to seek advice in this area, and there are several established and legitimate planning opportunities available to those with estates potentially affected by the tax.
Deeds of variation
A deed of variation is one planning option. It involves altering an individual’s will within two years of their death.  It still remains the most effective and instantaneous way to reduce a potential inheritance tax liability where the opportunity exists.
Provided certain formalities are observed, the gift of an inheritance made by deed of variation will be treated for inheritance tax purposes as if made by the deceased.
As no beneficiary is treated as owning the discretionary trust fund for inheritance tax purposes, the inheritance is immediately removed from the beneficiary’s taxable estate.
Mind you, the introduction of a transferable nil rate band (see below) means that deeds of variation will become largely unnecessary to retrospectively utilise a deceased spouse’s unused nil rate band.
Nil rate band planning
The 2008 budget introduced a transferable nil rate band for married couples and civil partners where the second death occurred on or after 9 October 2007.
The amount available for transfer is the percentage of the nil rate band unused on first death, but applied to the nil rate band threshold applicable at the date of death of the survivor.
Example – transferable nil rate band
John died on 20th February 1997 leaving a small legacy of £10,000 to each of his three children and the balance of his estate to his wife Louise.  In 1996/97 the nil rate band was £200,000 and the percentage unused was therefore 85%.
Louise dies on 15th March 2008 with an estate of £500,000 – somewhat in excess of her individual nil rate band for 2007/08 of £300,000.  However, by claiming John’s unused nil rate band of £255,000 (i.e.  nil rate band of £300,000 x 85%), Louise’s executors will have no tax to pay.
The introduction of a transferable nil rate band means that the nil rate band of a married person (or person in a civil partnership) will not be wasted even if all assets are left to the survivor on first death.
Using your will to plan
Nonetheless situations will still exist where it is appropriate to implement planning in your will. These include:

  • A second and subsequent marriage. A discretionary will trust will be useful in second marriage scenarios where leaving everything to a surviving spouse to the exclusion of children from a former marriage is undesirable. 
  • Asset protection.  Use of a discretionary trust in your reduces the possibility of assets being taken into account when assessing eligibility for local authority assistance in the event of the surviving spouse requiring long term care.  A discretionary trust in your will also offers some protection in the event of the bankruptcy or divorce of a beneficiary.
  • Fast growing assets. These would be assets likely to grow at a faster rate than increases in the nil rate band.

Exemptions, reliefs and absolute outright gifts
Non-contentious planning makes use of available exemptions and reliefs. It is the fundamental first step for individuals who still have a liability even after use of both nil rate bands.  In this regard, individuals and their advisers should consider:

  • Ensuring the current £3000 annual exemption is utilised.
  • Making regular exempt gifts out of surplus income to reduce the size of the estate.
  • Ensuring maximum use is made of business and agricultural property relief where these are available.
  • Taking advantage of the potentially exempt transfer regime to make outright gifts to individuals or to trusts where this is appropriate.

Gifts to discretionary trusts
Where an individual is happy to make an outright gift in which he or she reserves no benefit, provided that an element of flexibility and control over who gets what and when can be retained, a chargeable transfer to a discretionary trust should be considered.
If the amount gifted is below an individual’s available nil rate band, there will be no inheritance tax to pay either on creation of the trust or for at least the next 10 years.
Insurance based schemes
Loan trusts and discounted gift and income plans are attractive propositions to the UK domiciled individuals who wish to reduce their taxable estate but also to retain some form of access to their investments.
Loan trusts offer the option of access to the original investment amount – either on a regular or ad-hoc basis – while removing the investment growth from the taxable estate.  The amount of the original investment in the individual’s estate for inheritance tax purposes will reduce as withdrawals are taken (provided these are not accumulated elsewhere in the estate).
Discounted gift and income plans enable an individual to make a reduced or discounted gift, achieving an immediate reduction in the taxable estate for inheritance tax purposes and moving capital outside the estate altogether after seven years.
At the same time and income for life (or until the trust fund is exhausted) is retained, and complete flexibility over the ultimate distribution of remaining capital is achieved.
Funding for liabilities with life insurance
Where a liability still exists after all other acceptable planning options have been exhausted, funding for the liability using whole of life policies (life assurance) written under trust should be considered.
Funding for the liability offers you a straightforward, comparatively low cost solution where gifts (premiums paid) will normally be covered by an exemption. Indeed HMRC seldom query this method as they still get their “pound of flesh”!   
In our experience most clients need a combination of the above solutions. However, whatever route you choose you should always seek independent financial and legal advice.
Call us today to find out how we can help you.
Telephone +44 (0)208 4646 430, Email

Will Advice & Planning

Dying without valid Wills can cause heartache, distress and misery for those left behind. A Will should be used to protect your family and other beneficiaries.
We are a team of Will writers and consultants with many years of experience and understanding of the needs of individuals and families in respect of their Will and Estate planning.

Writing your Will is a particularly personal task, and that is why we offer a professional, yet truly friendly and personal service. We can discuss your requirements at our offices or in the comfort of your own home. We make writing your Will an easy process.
Statistics show that approximately 70% of the adult UK populations do not have a Will, and many do not realise the potential problems this can cause for loved ones and family members they leave behind.
Of those that have made a Will, many of these are out of date or inadequate. This is where we can help you. The Will Advice Company can review your existing Will taking into account changes in legislation and your personal family circumstances.
Situated in our Bromley based offices, we provide a bespoke advisory service covering the Entire UK to help individuals and families choose the right Will in order to protect their families and their estates.
Our primary objective is always that our clients receive a first class professional and friendly service.

,Why make a Will ?

Dying without valid Wills can cause Heartache, Distress and Misery. A carefully drafted Will can be used to protect your Family and your assets.
Making your Will should form a key part of your overall financial and estate planning. Your Will, or Mirror Wills, should ensure your assets legally go where you want them to go. A Will can also help to protect your estate from the effects of long-term care costs.
It is a certainty that none of us knows what the future will hold. However, we all have a duty to our family and loved ones to minimise uncertainty when they least need it, by ensuring our affairs are in order.
Your Will is top of the list in helping you to put your affairs in order, and reduce the burden on your family at what will be a very difficult time.
Many of our clients tell us that they had been putting off writing their Wills for a long time. It was not until they learned from us how easy and painless it is to have their Will written. Nearly all our clients wonder why they put it off so long !
If you do not make a Will, the government decides who inherits your estate under the laws of intestacy. In many cases this will mean that your estate will be distributed to people who you may not wish to benefit from any assets or money you leave.
The only way that you can ensure that your estate passes to the right people is by making a Will.

,The Right Will for you

Everybody is different, with their own distinct relationships, circumstances and finances. Therefore, it is important that all of these aspects are taken into account when a Will is made. Qualified, professional advice is crucial.
  • Single Wills for single people, separated & divorced people and those who are widowed.
  • Mirror Wills for Married Couples, Un-married Couples and Couples in Civil Partnerships.
  • Wills containing trust planning - either to protect assets e.g. a Property Trust, protect beneficiaries e.g. a disabled child, and to protect against Inheritance Tax (IHT)
  • Codicils for minor changes to existing Wills

,Lasting Power of Attorney

Many people are now realising the importance of making a Will to organise their affairs in the event of their death, in order to make it easier for their family to deal with matters as they would wish.
However, far fewer people make provision to organise their affairs should they become unable to look after them themselves during their lifetime, perhaps due to old age, illness or accident. The Alzheimer's Society estimates that there are currently over 750,000 people in the UK with dementia, many of these may go on to become mentally incapable of handling their own affairs.
In recent years, Banks, Pension providers and other financial institutions have tightened their rules with regard to what information, and access, third parties can have should a customer or client lose capacity to handle their affairs themselves. It is therefore, more important now then ever before, that people do make arrangements to appoint a person or persons to handle their affairs if they are unable to do so themselves.
Failure to make arrangements could lead to lengthy and costly procedures in the future. If you decide not to have your Lasting Power of Attorney drawn up, the alternative is to hope that the situation never arises where you are incapable of making decisions for yourself or to rely on someone making an application to the Court of Protection either for a Deputy to be appointed to make decisions for you or for the Court to make specific decisions on your behalf. The procedure for this can be very complicated, slow and expensive. In addition to any up-front fees payable, ongoing annual fees can also be payable.

The Answer is....

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows you to authorise a person or persons of your choice (the Attorney(s)) to make decisions on your behalf with regard to either :-
1. Your property and financial affairs including paying bills, collecting your income or benefits or selling property. If you wish you can appoint your Attorney(s) to manage your finances and property whilst you still have mental capacity or only once capacity has been lost.
2. Your personal welfareincluding the appropriate type of care/nursing available to you, and the power to refuse consent to medical treatment on your behalf. Your Attorney(s) can only make decisions on this type of LPA when you lack the capacity to make them yourself. You can choose to make either or both types of LPA. To protect you and your Attorney(s), an LPA must be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.

,Advisory Will Service

We recognise that personal circumstances may be complex and may change over the years. As such we always recommend that existing Wills are reviewed every 3 to 5 years to ensure that they continue to reflect a personí»s wishes. Listed below are possible life events/circumstances whereby a Will should be made or an existing Will reviewed.
  • Single Persons Making a Will is the only way to ensure that an estate passes to the intended beneficiaries. Personal possessions can be left as directed, cash legacies made to individuals and charity, and any funeral wishes noted.
  • Unmarried Couples/Partners Under the rules of Intestacy, un-married couples/partners do not automatically inherit each others estates. It is therefore crucial that they make Wills to ensure that their estates pass as they would wish.
  • On Marriage Under the rules of Intestacy, married couples may not automatically inherit each others estates. It is a common misconception that a surviving spouse would inherit the entire estate and therefore essential that married couples make Wills.
  • Birth of a child Making/updating a Will allows a parent to appoint a legal guardian for a child.
  • Divorce/Separation Due to these circumstances, most people need to make a new Will or update an existing one to ensure that their estates pass as they would wish.
  • Older Couples or 2nd Marriages Many older couples may have concerns over possible future residential care fees or nursing home costs and those in second marriages may wish to protect their estate for their own children. There are different types of Trusts within Wills that can protect assets in these circumstances.
  • Disabled Child Specialist Trusts within Wills can be used to provide for the needs of a disabled child.
  • Changes in Government Legislation Changes in October 2007 with regard to Inheritance Tax for Married couples, have left many couples wondering whether their existing Wills are still appropriate. We strongly recommend couples review their arrangements to ensure that they have the right Will in place.
Call us today to find out how we can help you.
Telephone +44 (0)208 4646 430, Email

Long Term Care Planning

Due to a UK population that is living longer, tens of thousands of homes are sold each year to fund the cost of residential or nursing care.
In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that the State will only provide for those with little or no savings or assets. Everyone else will be expected to pay at least part, if not all, of his or her own costs. Currently, anyone with assets in excess of £22,250 (this includes the family home) would not be eligible for any state help with their residential care fees. If you have more than £13,500 but less than £22,250 you would only be entitled to partial assistance. Average residential/nursing care fees can be in the region from £500 - £800 per week so it is clear how quickly assets can be eroded.
However, there is a solution for couples faced with this problem.
By making a carefully drafted Will, a specialist trust can be incorporated, whereby a half share of the family home passes into a trust on first death. This type of trust has the potential to protect half the value of a family property should the surviving spouse or partner have to go into care.
Early advice is essential to ensure that the correct Will and Trust planning are in place.
Call us today to find out how we can help you.
Telephone +44 (0)208 4646 430, Email

Children’s Future Planning ( Higher education & Wedding Expenses)

Like every parent, you too must be overjoyed to watch your child grow. All parents want to give the best possible upbringing to their children. This includes good education and security, in case of any eventuality. Soon, your little bundle of joy will grow up, and it will be time to provide for his or her higher education and wedding.
The purpose of Children's Future Planning is to create a corpus for foreseeable expenditures such as those on higher education and wedding, and to provide for an adequate security cover during their growing years.
Children's Future Planning acquires added importance because children's education and wedding are high priority life goals because of emotions and high costing, therefore, it can neither be postponed nor can there be a compromise on the amount.
Good education has always been the passport to a secure future. Today, career opportunities have grown manifold, and there are many professional courses that your child can aspire for. However, costs of higher education have also increased exponentially.
Like most parents, you might be saving regularly to ensure a safe tomorrow for your child. However, savings alone is no longer enough. For ensuring adequate funding of your child's education, you as a parent, need to do two things:

  • Invest appropriate amount systematically and at regular intervals
  • Provide for a financial security blanket to cover any eventuality
It is never too early to start saving and investing for your child's future. Especially in today's context. At Esteema, we can calm your anxieties by assessing your individual situation, identifying available assets and funding sources, and suggesting possible solutions to help you achieve your education funding goals.

There are many products which our Financial Planner can use to achieve the objectives. For example, he could suggest a Children's Future Plan offered by any good insurance company, to build a corpus for your child's higher education, and provide for a security cover in the event of the parent's unfortunate demise.
You may have heard many statements about education. We have listed the most common education misconceptions below.
Myth: College costs nearly £30,000 a year now. I don't think I can afford to send my child to college in the future.
Reality: It's true that some private colleges and universities can cost that much. However, there are many U.K.colleges and universities that provide a good education at a lower price. And with college financial aid, loans, and proper planning, it's possible for these costs to be met.
Myth: I already make more than enough money, so I can probably pay for my child's education.
Reality: Perhaps so, perhaps not. It's likely that a rise in income would result in an increase in spending. So, by the time your children are ready for college, you may have less than you had previously expected. Also, it's possible that your income could be affected by situations such as unemployment, disability, or premature death.
Myth: Parents should make all the necessary sacrifices to ensure that their children get a top-notch education & Excellent wedding.
Reality: Without proper planning, you may deplete your savings reserves and incur heavy debts, while trying to cover your children's college education costs. This may affect your future financial goals and leave your retirement situation in jeopardy.
Myth: My income is high and we can't qualify for financial aid.
Reality: Even if your income is high, you should still apply for financial aid. Families with income greater than £100,000 can get aid in some cases. Financial aid is awarded based on a complex formula that factors in the number of household members, the number of children in college, the age of the oldest parent, as well as income and assets.
Myth: I don't need to be concerned as much about saving because I plan to send my child to a state school.
Reality: Although public colleges are less expensive than private colleges, the cost of a public college education has been rising at a faster rate than private schools in recent years, approximately 10% annually vs. approximately 7% annually, respectively. By the time your child is ready to go to college, the cost of a public school education could be higher than you previously anticipated and additional savings would be necessary.
Call us today to find out how we can help you.
Telephone +44 (0)208 4646 430, Email