Watch Out – There’s a [new] Scam About

IMPORTANT
I had a call today asking about ‘my’ life policies – who are you? – I asked.
‘We are the Life Team. We review policies for the life companies – did is you buy yours from a bank? Whatever po’licies you did buy must be unsuitable for you now so it must be reviewed’

Continue reading “Watch Out – There’s a [new] Scam About”

New Year’s Resolution – 2017 and beyond

2017withchristmasball02Not so much a New Year Resolution as an affirmation of our business principles. Principles that, unlike the usual resolutions, will last an entire year and beyond.

1        A commitment to good client outcomes. Ensuring that clients benefit first, the firms interest taking second place

2        Clients have an opportunity to make a difference as well as make money.

3        Our fees are good value. Clients get what they pay for and their expectations are exceeded

4        We support women.

5        We stand up to the bullies.

A commitment to good client outcomes, unlike some other organisations who still work to targets meaning that the selfish adviser is rewarded, even when they can damage the firm’s reputation and disregard the best outcome for clients.

We match the clients principles and values, by taking time to understand them. Profit comes from sustainable business models. 

All fees are agreed in advance.

We believe that, in a male dominated sector, women bring a different perspective.

We are brave enough to challenge the received wisdom. 

Whilst being a small firm, we achieve better outcomes by tailoring our advice to the client’s needs and wants.

Simple!

Jan

Why Would I Choose Someone with Passion?

As Christmas approaches, like so many other business people, I am starting to focus on Continue reading “Why Would I Choose Someone with Passion?”

Four reasons to divest from fossil fuels

What do you think your future self will make of your current investment in fossil fuels?

oil-drum An article from Alliance Trusts atinvestments.co.uk/en/common-content/insights/news/2016/november/4-reasons-to-divest-from-fossil-fuels 
argues the case for divesting your holdings in the sector and checking that your pensions are also sensibly invested.

As a long term Financial Adviser for those wanting sustainable investment decisions I find this interesting and reflects one of the many concerns you may have about investment decisions.

I am able access their funds and well as many others.

For anyone as yet unsure, why not have an initial meeting with me to ask questions to help you to form your own views on this?

 

 

The PFS Annual Conference

In any profession is important to share with other professionals, exchange ideas and learn Continue reading “The PFS Annual Conference”

Have we been Trumped on climate?

UKSIFlogoYesterday we learned that the new President of the United States is to be Donald Trump – the candidate who called global warming ‘fictional’ and threatened to ‘cancel’ the Paris Agreement so many of us have worked hard to achieve. But is all lost for our transition to a low carbon global economy? We don’t think so.

The unprecedented international co-operation on climate change has seen a booming low carbon economy.  Key points: renewables have overtaken coal, electric vehicles are the auto growth segment and ‘clean’ jobs are being created faster than any other. This is all happening globally and in the US.

Conservative strongholds and Trump states, such as Texas and North Carolina, are developing clean energy industries attracting new investment and jobs. They are unlikely to wave all that goodbye.  In 2015, the clean energy industry brought $6.96 billion to North Carolina, boasting more than 26,000 full time jobs, 3,150 of which were created in 2015 alone. In Texas, more than 100,000 people are now working in the renewables sector. Of Trump’s voting public, 70% consider it a ‘high priority’ to cut greenhouse gas emissions with 40% of Republicans worried about climate change.

We don’t know yet how Mr Trump will act on climate policy, but we think the progress achieved to date is irreversible.

 

Contact Charlene Cranny at UKSIF for more information and resources around climate action.

Good Money Week Campaign

goodmonetwseekpiggybank2014Good Money Week is the campaign to raise awareness of sustainable, responsible and ethical finance to help people make good money choices.

Good Money Week aims to ensure that everyone knows they have sustainable and ethical options when it comes to their financial decisions.

Good Money Week takes place this year from 30th October- 5th November.

During this annual event we make it a focus for the financial editors of national papers to publish real life stories about people who make the choice to invest in Socially Responsible Investments, (SRIs). The important thing is that they are not odd or extreme in their principles but normal people who take the time to consider the potential outcomes of investing.

If you can invest and get the same, or better, return on your investment and be certain that the investment meets your ethical values, then surely that’s a win-win.

There are of course the cynics who question those good intentions.  In the same way that a driver of an electric vehicle is challenged over the source of the electricity they charge the vehicle with.  Most of us ensure it’s from either wind or solar but it does not stop the cynics.  Somehow doing thoughtful things, like using alternative energy or composting garden waste and not burning it is still considered odd!

Someone please explain it to me?

You might want also to explain why some prefer to drive a mile rather than walk.  Walking restores your energy levels and keeps you fit, driving causes pollution, outside the school, in green spaces and around your homes!  It’s a responsible life-style choice.

So therefore, if investing in thoughtful and responsible ways provides good returns and respects your values, what stops you?

Is it a lack of understanding, a question of not knowing where to find responsible investments or preferring to leave money with your bank so they can do irresponsible things with it?

To find out more about Good Money Week – goodmoneyweek.com

Or talk to me?

Increase in Will Disputes Attributed to Rising Property Prices

It has been reported that the increase in the number of children involved in inheritance disputes has been fuelled by rising property prices.

As the value of property has soared during the last decade, the estates of ‘ordinary’ families have become more likely to prompt inheritance disputes as families go to war over the division of assets. The High Court saw 116 cases of children challenging their parents’ estates in 2015, compared with 104 in 2014 – an 11% rise.

One reason for this surge is due to the rise in more complicated family structures which has led to more relatives, such as stepchildren, expecting to benefit from the estate.

There has also been an increase in cases where children challenge charity donations. This may be due to increased life expectancy which means it is becoming more common for parents to die when their children are middle-aged and assumed to be comfortable financially. If their children are perceived not to need as much financial help, parents may be more likely to make alternative arrangements for the distribution of their assets – to friends or charities, for example.

The children of the deceased can make a claim under the Inheritance Act if they feel reasonable provisions have not been made for them. There is also an option for those who were treated as the deceased’s child to claim against the estate, even if no formal or legal arrangement exists – such as when children have been adopted or fostered.

Tom Curran, Chief Executive at Kings Court Trust said: “Unfortunately, we do see family disputes over inheritance and it highlights how important it is to ensure your Will explicitly states how you want your estate to be distributed.

By ensuring that your Will is clearly and professionally written, your estate can be dealt with as smoothly as possible and reduces the likelihood of loved ones being unintentionally excluded when it comes to their inheritance. It is important that people understand the benefits of planning ahead, regardless of our age or health.”

Your Estate

Guide to Sustainable Energy

Back in July 2012, bluegreentomorrowlogo-150launched their first Guide to Sustainable Energy with the Thomas Edison quote:

I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that

Quite.   And he said that in 1931

This is taken directly from the Blue & Green Tomorrow web site
http://us4.campaign-archive1.com/?u=e974b0822600f75da7c87950a&id=b600a10075&e=5d91347ec0

“We found the quote at the end of a great article on the New York Times Magazine website in its Current Thinking column, that was current thinking from 2007! Nine years on it’s still worth a read ( http://nyti.ms/1osEwbL ).

“You hold in your hand (on your smartphone, tablet or desktop) the fourth edition of our Guide and the current thinking remains – we’d put our money on solar energy, but also wind, tidal, wave and geothermal. And nuclear?

“Recently the UK government decided it would put our money on nuclear with the Hinkley Point C after months of dithering, perfectly illustrating everything that is wrong with government strategic thinking and energy policy. The wrong technology, with the wrong partners at the wrong price.

“Which is why we’re delighted to have contributions from Tidal Lagoon Power, Abundance Energy, Bristol Energy Cooperative and the excellent investment organisation (Alliance Trust, Foresight, Impax, Triodos and WHEB) that are putting money into distributed clean energy and storage – the right technology, with the right partners at the right price.

“And we also have an article about nuclear fusion – a technology which divides the environmentally minded. We don’t have a strong opinion on nuclear fusion and wanted to just present the technology. We believe you are more than capable of forming your own judgment.”

 

Read the Blue & Green Guide – here

Having a LPA in Place Should be Common and Natural

The Alzheimer’s Society reports that more than one million people in the UK will have dementia by 2025. Accidents, strokes, brain injuries and Parkinson’s Disease can also affect your ability to make your own decisions. Handling financial affairs can become virtually impossible and could cost a great deal of money and load the burden on relatives.

A report from ‘This is Money’ on analysis by Key Retirement Solutions found that more than 11,500 families every year are having to go to court to appoint ‘deputies’ so relatives and friends can make decision on behalf of ill or incapacitated people.

lpaWithout a lasting power of attorney** (LPA) in place, it can be difficult to access bank accounts.

For example, a 2013 British Bank Association Booklet, “Guidance for People Wanting to Manage a Bank Account for Someone Else”, said: “If one joint account holder loses mental capacity, banks and building societies can decide whether or not to temporarily restrict the use of the account to essential transactions only.”

We have all warned how the restricting of a joint account has severe implications as the joint owner cannot freely withdraw what is their own money without an order from the Court of Protection which could be devastating, especially if this is their only form of income, such as their pension, paid into this joint account.

Having a LPA in place should be as common and natural as making a will.

The UK authorities introduced LPAs in October 2007, replacing the previous system of enduring powers of attorney (EPA) – although an enduring power of attorney created before October 2007 remains valid.

The Treasury advises consumers: “If you want to give one or more people the power to completely manage your money and property if you lose mental capacity – that is, if you can’t make decisions for yourself – you have to set up a permanent power of attorney.

The people who will manage your finances are called your without the other (good for spreading the load).

You should also choose at least one replacement attorney who would take over if their attorney died or could no longer act for them. If they are older and the people they choose are all the same age as they are, they may not end up being the best people to act if and when their help is needed.

Setting up a power of attorney is a big step and you need to understand all the implications and may want to get good legal advice.

The person setting up a power of attorney must have the capacity to make their own decisions.

It is a good idea to get it set up well before you need it. It is much harder and more expensive for someone to help you with you money and property if you have already lost mental capacity. And if you get it set up now, it is there if something happens to you suddenly, like an accident or a stroke.

Setting it up does not mean you have to give up control.

It takes several weeks to register a lasting power of attorney – yet another reason to get it set up early. If you lost mental capacity during those weeks, your attorney would not be able to act for you in the meantime.

The attorney you choose should be someone you really trust and preferably younger than you. Many people choose their husband, wife, partner, another family member or a close friend.  You might choose more than one attorney.

If you do, they can decide whether they need to make decisions jointly (a good idea if they want two opinions on their finances) or whether each can decide things.

 

SEE this BBC item
Can Power of Attorney help protect your family against scams?
If an elderly relative starts to spend money irrationally, or in a way that is out of character, what powers do you have to intervene and stop them? Louise Minchin has heard from one woman who was worried about her father’s spending and when she eventually gained Power of Attorney over his affairs, discovered that more than £10,000 had disappeared from his bank account. We investigate what people can do if they feel their relative is becoming vulnerable to scams.   bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04c0yl6

 

** Lasting power of attorney in England; known by other names in other UK domains

A Fixed Price Estate Administration Service Could Save Bereaved Families up to 15%

A report on the cost of dying has highlighted that a bereaved family will spend £3,000 on average when hiring a legal professional to administer the estate of a loved one.  Administering an estate typically involves dealing with all of the assets associated with the person who has died, paying any debts and managing all of the legal and tax implications.

KingsCourtTrust200Last year, estate administration specialists Kings Court Trust [KCT] administered over 1,000 estates on behalf of families across the UK. Their average net fee for carrying out all of the legal and tax work associated with these cases was £2,549 – a saving of almost 15% compared to the industry average quoted in the research report.

Unlike the service offered by many traditional solicitors, KCT ’s comprehensive estate administration service comes with a guaranteed fixed price that is agreed up front with the customer.

This means that the family have complete peace of mind in knowing that the cost of the service will not change, regardless of the complexity of the case.

In contrast, many solicitors still use an hourly rate model which means that the final fee is dependent on the length of time that the estate takes to administer, which is often unknown until well into the estate administration process.

The report highlights the significant costs involved in someone passing away.

Professional fees often need to be met by the immediate family, so it goes without saying that they should shop around to find the service that best suits their needs.

Unfortunately, it is all too common for us to hear of families appointing the first solicitor or estate administration provider that they come across.  This often means that they end up paying over the odds for a service that they don’t fully understand.

We don’t believe this is fair for the family, which is why KCT takes the time to explain how the estate administration process works and provide a guaranteed, fixed price quote before any work is undertaken.

KCT offers a comprehensive estate administration service for a guaranteed fixed price.  For more information on their services or if you have any questions relating to the estate administration process give me a call and I will give you a personal introduction.

Jan Oliff Financial Planning is pleased to work with KCT in a business relationship that enables our firm to be alongside our clients as they make crucial financial decisions. Sometimes other financial planning can also be used to further reduce the final costs of estate settlement.