Financial advice: Are you too rich?

December 17, 2010

Do you have too much, too little or just enough money?

Everyone fits into one of these categories - and may move between them. How do you know where you lie - and what are the problems of each category?

You might assume having too much is not a problem - but how do you feel about tax? If you die with too much money in your estate, up to 40 per cent of it will not go to your beneficiaries - sons, daughters, grandchildren - but to the taxman to pay inheritance tax.

If you have three or more children, and haven't any effective plans, the tax bill could be greater than the amount each child receives. If your whole estate, including your home, is more than £1.5 million, you will give £470,000 in tax, and only £451,000 to each child! Did you name the Chancellor in your will?

Actually that money is lost not just once, in the tax take, but again as an investment value to your children.

The problem you face is, how do you know that you will have enough money, in time to do the necessary inheritance tax planning, so that more of your money goes where you want it? How much can you afford to give now - so that you can see the benefits - whether to your own children or to charity without putting yourself at risk?

Too many people don't do things that they want to do, in case they run out of money. But you can use specialist financial planners who will work with you to find out what your number is.

It is always sad when I sit with a "child", probably in their 50s, who has just received their inheritance, after the estate has paid tax on it, who says: "Mum never went to South Africa/to see the family in Australia/saw her grandchildren, because she didn't think she could afford it". But she's left an estate and paid tax!

If you fall into the "too little" category, you need more immediate solutions, but first make sure you aren't throwing your money away because you aren't using all of your tax allowances.

The answer could be to rethink your life goals, accept that you will have to work longer, look at different ways to fund your retirement.

You might think that having just enough is perfect. Of course it is, if nothing changes. But accidents happen and markets go down as well as up, so you can't afford to be complacent. In your financial planning you want to look at those possibilities and build in the safety nets for your life.

Strangely enough, although the highest number of complaints received and upheld by the Financial Ombudsman Service come through banks and building societies, they are the places where many individuals go when they want financial advice.

Only two per cent of complaints arise through independent financial advisers.

The most important aspect of securing your financial future, at any age, is to know what you are trying to achieve and when, rather like having a business plan if you are in business.

It's often been said "Life is not a rehearsal" and so surely you want to work with trusted professionals whose interests are aligned with yours, who can reach the whole market of solutions - working with you and for you and not primarily for the benefit of the company who employs them?

Veronica Mann is a director of Trigon Solutions Group, which offers financial planning and independent financial advice to individuals and businesses. Trigon can be contacted on 01707 251253

Last updated: 5:27pm, May 11 2011