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When is advice not advice?

Like most of you I suspect, my junk mail simply gets put in the bin without even a glance at it, but financial junk mail always gets my attention.

I recently received an invitation to a seminar, which would stop my family paying Inheritance tax, care fees and protect me from bankruptcy, all for free including tea and coffee.  My reward for attending would be a free consultation at home.

This reminded me of a friend who went to a seminar in the UK promoting sales of time-share properties in Spain. I know he had no money, he knew he had no money but by attending he qualified for a free holiday, including flights, to inspect one of their properties.

He attended the presentation and to get his free holiday he had to endure two hours of high pressure sales tactics to get his vouchers. It was easy for him to put off the salesmen as he had no money, no credit cards, nothing so he kept asking for his vouchers until they gave in.

So what’s my issue with this financial seminar? Well it’s the “woolly” area as to who is giving what advice. As an IFA my company and I are authorised to give independent financial advice and are regulated by the, the Financial Conduct Authority. Should I or my staff make a mistake then our clients are protected by the FSCS, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and an Independent arbiter, the Financial Ombudsman, is available to adjudicate on complaints without charge and can order compensation to be paid if we are in the wrong.

It follows that all the above services have to be paid for and whilst we are happy to discuss costs with clients before they commit to anything there is no such thing as free advice.

So I looked into this company and found that it is not regulated. No FCA, no ombudsman no FSCS, so in the event of a complaint who would I complain to, the company themselves? Sure some of the people who work there are qualified in tax and legal matters but are they, as individuals, giving you advice?

It’s this very grey area that bothers me. Who would visit me to give advice? Are they authorised by anybody? What protection do I have in law?

If you need advice please get it from qualified authorised professionals, there really is no substitute.

Call the Independent Financial Centre on 01277 630873 if you need sense made of anything financial in your life. 

Call Georgina on 01277 630873 if you would like more details

I'll think about it tomorrow

All too often we put off the important things in life.  A surprising number of people neglect to make a will, even though they own a house and have a family.  It’s not that they don’t care…it’s just that they don’t get round to it.

Making a will is straightforward, quick and relatively inexpensive.  If you die without a will – known as ‘intestate’ – the law decides who gets what and it might not be what you would have wanted!

Before you contact a solicitor it is a good idea to consider carefully how you would like your assets to be distributed.  These points may help you organise your thinking:

-              Who would you like to benefit from your will?
-              If you have children under 18, who would look after them should the unthinkable happen? 
-              Someone will need to carry out your wishes.  Your executor(s) can be family members that you trust to administrate your will efficiently, or you can nominate a firm of solicitors.
-              What would happen to your estate in the unlikely event that the people you want to benefit from it die before you?

Business, family or personal arrangements can make the will writing process a little more complex, for example:

-              You have a partner but are not married
-              You have children from a previous marriage or step-children
-              You own a business
-              You have property abroad
-              Your main home is outside of the UK
-              You want to leave money or property to someone who cannot care for themselves, such as a vulnerable child or adult

Your solicitor will take account of these circumstances.  For example, they may suggest that you use a trust to safeguard money for a child.  They will also explain how the laws of inheritance work and will make sure that you understand the implications of inheritance tax and what you can do to make sure your family do not end up with a higher tax bill than necessary.

Some people are tempted to make a will ‘on the cheap’ but this can be a false economy.  Incorrect wording could mean that your instructions are not followed or, in a worse-case scenario, completely invalidate your will. 
For a free initial 15 minute telephone call to discuss your will, contact Jane Orchard on 01268 824924 or email jane.orchard@birkettlong.co.uk