UNCOMFORTABLE HOME TRUTHS

TODAY’S BLOG

DENIAL IS MORE COSTLY THAN THE TRUTH

Lockdown has been hard for many people. Freedom takes many forms and the freedom that most of us have taken for granted is the ability to meet other people and get out of the house for a change of scenery. Many have found the constant presence at home has exposed some difficulties within a relationship. Some have had their thoughts confirmed, for others this may be an acknowledgement of a truth that has so far been successfully avoided or navigated. The divorce inquiries to law firms is reportedly up 42% for the lockdown period when viewed against the same time 12 months earlier.

Tom and Rose – How Not To Get Divorced

As this is therefore rather topical, I think it worth drawing your attention to a real couple from London. I will call them Rose (50) and Tom (53) who had been married for over 20 years and had 3 children (21, 19 and 14) were divorcing. Proceedings began in 2018, sadly their divorce, which concluded in May 2020 (on Zoom) escalated fairly quickly.

Rose was a minor shareholder in her parents two family businesses. One business was a recruitment company providing staff to the care sector, the other was a care home. Rose was essentially a sleeping partner in both businesses, but Tom had become the Managing Director of the Care Home in 2005, this ceased once divorce proceedings began.

DIVORCE

Keeping Up Appearances

The couple had a very comfortable lifestyle with an annual spend of over £100,000. They lived in a 5-bedroom house in London. Rose wanted to remain in the family home but could not raise additional finance to provide Tom with his share of the equity (£350,000). The reality is that they lived beyond their means, Tom ran up credit card debts of £122,000 and both had soft loans from family members. The marital home was sold and both had to rent. The Recruitment business began to see a fairly significant drop in income, from £9.5m to £8.1m, but on the face of things a very viable business. However, when coupled with the personalities involved and allegations of misdemeanour in his role as Managing Director, this has the sense of a perfect storm.

Where has all the money gone?

As allegations about Tom were made, this added to the legal knots that they then managed to create. Anger and resentment continued to fan the flames of “he said, she said”. In the end, aside from their pensions (not yet available) and the notional value of shares in the family business, the legal fees left both with liquid assets of £5,000 each. You can see a rather good summary of the case here.

There are lots of lessons here, family businesses are more exposed to the knock on effects of marital problems. Overspending and a lack of communication about it between the couple is rarely good for any marriage. Reliance on funds from family members, parents in particular makes for further uncomfortable relationships. Finally, if you find yourself in a similar position, agree terms fairly and avoid the name calling and point-scoring, it serves nobody well, in fact everyone loses.

The Uncomfortable Truth

When it comes to planning, as I have said many times before, we make lots of assumptions about the future, the biggest assumption we make about a couple is that they remain together (unless they communicate that this is unlikely). One of the problems of thinking about what you want from life is that you become aware of what you don’t want, for many that can be ending an unhappy marriage. That has financial consequences that we can make allowance for, but only if we are able to communicate truthfully. Divorce does not have to leave a huge financial scar, it can be settled well. I am not a marriage counsellor, I have been married for over 25 years, I am however pretty certain that Tom and Rose regularly failed to communicate well with each other, particularly about money. Denial of reality isn’t really my thing, it serves nobody well. A good plan will help you face some uncomfortable truths.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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UNCOMFORTABLE HOME TRUTHS2020-06-11T17:19:38+01:00

GOOD NEWS FOR CHILD TRUST FUNDS

TODAY’S BLOG

GOOD NEWS FOR CHILD TRUST FUNDS

Young people with a Child Trust Fund (CTFs) could see their savings automatically rolled into a new tax-free savings accounts at maturity under new government proposals. The first Child Trust Funds are due to mature in September this year and, under current arrangements, will be automatically cashed in once the account holder turns 18.

CTFs could instead be automatically rolled over into another account that continues to shelter the young saver’s cash from the taxman. Child Trust Funds were launched in 2005 as a way to encourage parents to start saving for their children. Children born between September 1, 2002 and 2 January 2, 2011 received between £250 or £500 to be invested on their behalf.

Parents, family and friends could continue to contribute to the account, with all gains tax-free. More than 6 million CTF accounts were opened and no money could be withdrawn until the child reached age 18. That means the first tranche of accounts will mature in September 2020. But CTFs were discontinued in 2011 and replaced with the Junior ISA (JISA).

For years, children with CTFs were left in limbo as savings providers stopped offering new products as JISAs took precedence. In 2015, the Government ruled that money held in CTFs could be transferred out to a JISA. For those who kept their money in a CTF, the money would automatically cash out once the accountholder turned 18. But many have considered this to be unfair. Junior ISAs are automatically rolled into adult Isa accounts when a child reaches 18, meaning they continue to enjoy their tax-free status. The Government’s latest move looks to be levelling up the playing field.

Note that tha current JISA limit (which is a tax year limit on contributions) is £4,368 for 2019/20.

Child Trust Funds

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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GOOD NEWS FOR CHILD TRUST FUNDS2020-01-24T09:34:48+00:00

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

I wonder if you saw a video clip of a family at Beekse Bergen Safari Park, who for some strange reason left their car to look around. Another park visitor caught their lucky and close escape from a pack of cheetahs. Whilst the video isn’t that clear, other than the obvious “what possessed them?” I was aware of that the mother clutching one of her children was the last to reach safety, somewhat deserted by her husband. It reminded me of a 2015 film “Force Majeure” in which the male parent absconds from his duty.

At this time of year, we see various creatures nurturing their young, well… at least if you manage to get outside amongst any green spaces… whilst I realise that the nurturing instinct is not exclusively female and not all females experience it, it is perhaps generally true. The instinct to protect is “natural” to many.

Delegating Poorly…

Over the years I have met hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people to discuss their financial planning. There are many common themes, but the one that is common amongst couples is where the wife leaves most of the “money stuff” to the husband to sort out. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this, if he does…

Often, men live and behave as though they are indestructible. Perhaps you live with one that doesn’t tend to make too many trips to the doctor, dentist or whatever… Whatever their reasons, many do not take the prospect of illness or death terribly seriously until they are much older. They often rely on benefits provided by employers – the death-in-service cover and so on. Yet any employer benefits will cease, should the employment end. Frankly I would only ever view them as a bonus rather than the solution.

Whether you have children or not, in the event of a serious or long-term illness or perhaps even death, there is almost certainly a financial consequence. It is too late to address this gaping hole once you find yourself in such a scenario. I would urge you not to rely on employer benefits, I have seen the folly of this. I would also encourage every couple to ensure that they have ample financial protection, don’t leave it to one partner to “sort it out” ultimately you may be living with the consequences of poor delegation, I have chosen my words deliberately.

It’s not just couples

Single people also need to reflect on their financial security if they could not earn a living. I know this is morose, somewhat awkward to think about, but I have seen too many people needlessly struggle because they didn’t set up a suitable amount of cover.

Whilst the couple in the safari park may have somehow found a reason to get out of their car, the bubble of a relationship is of no help when the real-world breaks through, which it will, it always does…

Ready for the video from CNN

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Email me to get in touch
Animal Kingdom2018-05-14T10:48:17+01:00

Where there’s a Will – part 2

Where there’s a Will – part 2

I asked Alex Truesdale for her thoughts on the ruling by the Court of Appeal and am thankful for her very valuable insight, here are her thoughts and observations.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment in this long-running dispute confirms that disinherited children are permitted by a 1975 statute to challenge their parents’ Wills if reasonable provision for their maintenance is not made. “Maintenance” means the child’s cost of daily living at whatever level is appropriate to them. The question of what is “reasonable” is dealt with by the court exercising its discretion to consider a number of factors laid down by statute, including the child’s needs and circumstances, the needs and circumstances of the beneficiary who has inherited instead, and the parent’s conduct. Here, Arden LJ endorses the lower court’s description of Melita Jackson’s conduct towards her daughter Heather Illot, since their 1978 estrangement, as “unreasonable, capricious and harsh”, before replacing the lower court’s £50,000 award with a sum of £163,000. This, Arden LJ reasoned, would allow Mrs Illot to purchase her house, receive a modest income, and potentially arrange a pension through equity release, all without compromising her state benefits.

This is not new Law

None of this is new law. But it is inevitable that this high profile victory for Heather Ilott – albeit one which sees her receiving just over 1/3 of her late mother’s estate – will encourage further challenges to Wills which seek to disinherit family members, particularly if there is no connection between a testator and the charity which has benefited from a windfall legacy. A costs order has yet to be made but will be considerable: Melita Jackson’s insistence that her executors defend to the hilt any attempt by her daughter to contest the Will will already have eroded the value of her estate, and so now the charities themselves face a smaller residual legacy and their own costs bill. There may be a further appeal to the Supreme Court, but I would suspect that the charities will take a view on the reputational as well as financial damage they risk in prolonging a dispute which has run since 2004 and, arguably, since the estrangement in 1978.

Where does this leave testamentary capacity? Much as it was before – the award made in this case turns on its own facts, and does not represent any further curtailment of one’s freedom to leave one’s estate as one pleases, so we should all still be making Wills.

Think ahead and think carefully

However, I would encourage those who do wish to exclude family members from their Wills to leave contemporaneous evidence of their reasoning not only to exclude a particular beneficiary, but also to favour other beneficiaries. This is particularly important if, in the case of charities, the testator has no connection with, or history of donations to, charity during their lifetime. I have been instructed on a number of cases where we have done just that by way of a side letter, to try to avoid the washing of too much dirty linen during probate, a process which makes Wills public. And those asked to act as executors should always check whether they are risking accepting a poisoned chalice that may compel their involvement in a protracted legal battle. As in this case, that may, sadly, become the testator’s most enduring legacy.

Alexandra Truesdale MIPW

Alex Truesdale Wills Limited | Registered in England and Wales no 7275445 | Registered office: 27 Mizen Close Cobham Surrey KT11 2RJ

Alex Truesdale Wills Limited is a member of the Institute of Professional Willwriters and complies with its Code of Practice

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Where there’s a Will – part 22017-01-06T14:39:25+00:00
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