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Who are the executors for your Will?

Selecting the right executors has always been important but with the changes to pension and ISA rules, selecting the right ones is more important than ever.

An executor is someone who carries out (executes) the instructions you left in your Will. (A written wish list of what is to happen to your assets when you die)

Now that some Pension Funds can pass down generations Inheritance Tax free and ISA allowances can pass to Spouses increasing their overall tax free allowances, it is vital that your executors and IFA “sing from the same hymn sheet”.

Moving funds from one Institution to another or from one person to another used to cost around 50 for every 1,000 moved. So when someone died, it was reasonable to sell everything, gather it together in cash and pass it to the beneficiaries; they could then re-invest to suit themselves.

When we lose a client, some holdings may not need to be sold: they can simply be transferred to a  new owner but if the executors are unaware of this and sell before discussing things with the deceased’s IFA it could prove costly indeed.

Also, consolidating certain investments into say a Fund Supermarket also makes sense; much less paperwork than dealing with many different fund managers and normally less cost

In the “old days” it made sense, as clients aged, to become more and more secure with their investments by reducing risk as the years went by. However if funds are now to be transferred to the spouse or the children, they could be invested for 15, 30 or even 50 years or more, which puts a whole different light on where they should be invested.

When a client dies we, as their IFA, can only deal with their executors otherwise we would be in breach of the data protection act. We always recommend therefore that spouses are appointed for each other and on the second demise, your eldest child or two if you have any.

This means we can advise on the best way forward and help with the information needed for probate, (the certificate required to handle the deceased’s affairs) along with the paperwork to deal with any pension schemes and transferring ISA allowances etc.

To sum up: -

Your investments and pensions need a professional review to ensure they are consolidated, invested with the longer term in mind, and can take advantage of all the new rules.

Your Will needs to be correctly written to ensure there are no clauses which prevent your wishes being carried out!

For further details call Georgina or Guy on 01277 630873

The perilsof a budget divorce

The media recently reported on a case where the ex-wife brought a claim against her ex-husband many years after they had divorced.  The case shocked the public and left many asking ‘how can that be possible?’.

Former new-age travellers, Dale Vince – now a multi-millionaire wind farm entrepreneur – and his ex-wife, Kathleen Wyatt had divorced more than 20 years ago.  This was long before Mr Vince made his fortune and yet Ms Wyatt was still able to bring her claim for 1.9 million to the courts.

Most people are under the impression that when a divorce is finalised all ability to claim from the other party will cease, but that’s often not the case, particularly when the divorce has been done “on the cheap”.  At Birkett Long we obtain what’s known as a consent order in respect of a financial settlement.  In the Vince v Wyatt case, no consent order had been made, leaving Ms Wyatt able to go to the Supreme Court to pursue her claim.

A consent order is a simple document that can be drawn up by your lawyer.  It means that neither spouse has a right to make any further financial claims after the divorce is finalised.  As this case shows, it is well worth a little additional cost to avoid what could be a major drain on your resources in years to come and is the only way to ensure a clean break, financially speaking. 

When we see clients in the throes of separation we realise how much misunderstanding exists around the topics of divorce and separation.  Many co-habiting couples think that they are entitled to make financial claims against their partners, and even those within a civil partnership or a marriage are all too frequently badly advised.  A co-habitation or a pre-nuptial agreement may not be the most romantic thing in the world but it can serve to protect your interests in the event that the relationship breaks down.  Although not legally binding, the courts are now giving more weight to these agreements, and writing down your intentions can save incurring legal fees when disputes arise over who gets what.

Going through separation or divorce is always painful, often acrimonious and sometimes messy.  We can’t ease the pain but we can help smooth the practicalities, get you the best possible settlement and allow you to start moving on with your life.

For advice regarding divorce or any aspect of family law, contact Joanne Norris on 01268 244157 or email