Do you have any ‘rainy day money’? If so, do you have enough? What happens if you lose your job – can you meet your commitments?
Is all your wealth invested in your house? Are you adequately insured? What about your dependents? What would happen to your family if you were incapacitated? Are you expecting your children to go to university and, if so, would you want to support them? What about when they leave home and want to buy a house? Will they call on ‘the bank of mum and dad’?
Whatever your stage of life, these are questions that need to be addressed. A skilled financial adviser can help you explore your options and make intelligent decisions.
The way your money is invested can have a major impact on your tax liability and general financial position. When considering major changes in investments, an ICAEW Chartered Accountant can give you generic advice that may provide a useful basis for further discussions with an FSA-authorised investment business advisor.
Whether you need to get to grips with the basic rules of UK taxation or are disoriented by the sheer variety of savings and investment products on the market – from National Savings and Investments (NS&I) and government stocks to ISAs, investment funds and venture capital trusts – informed advice will place your financial planning on a firm footing.
Under the provisions of the Financial Services and Markets Act, some firms of chartered accountants are licensed by ICAEW (or by the Financial Services Authority) to undertake various investment-related activities on behalf of clients. They can advise on investments, arrange deals and manage investments.
Gifting is a complex subject, with the decisions you make having an impact on the amount of inheritance tax you may have to pay. Certain transfers are not taken into account for inheritance tax, and an ICAEW Chartered Accountant can provide comprehensive information on:
- Transfers “not intended to confer gratuitous benefit”.
- Capital transfers for family maintenance.
- Small gifts to the same person.
- Gifts in consideration of marriage or civil partnership.
- Normal expenditure out of income.
- Annual transfers not exceeding £3,000.
- Transfers between spouses or civil partners.
- Gifts to charities.
- Lifetime transfers.
Understanding which transfers are exempt from inheritance tax, and being aware of the intricacies of potentially exempt transfers and chargeable lifetime transfers, will enable you to manage delicate transactions with confidence. You will also be able to ensure that the largest possible proportion of your assets reaches the intended recipients.
Marriage and divorce
Whether you are getting married or divorced, there is every possibility that important financial decisions will need to be made. An ICAEW Chartered Accountant can keep you fully informed on taxation and other financial issues relating to times in your life when it is tempting to think with your heart and not your head.
Members of a married couple or civil partnership are taxed separately and it’s worth exploring the ways to take best advantage of this situation. Transfers of assets between spouses or civil partners who are living together are not chargeable to capital gains tax (CGT), and there are circumstances in which it may be sensible for property to be transferred from one spouse or partner to the other. Sound advice from an expert with in-depth knowledge and experience can prove invaluable.
During a divorce or separation, the sheer quantity of financial matters to be addressed can feel overwhelming, and an ICAEW Chartered Accountant can offer support across a range of subjects, including:
- Maintenance payments.
- What happens to the family home.
- Other chargeable assets.
- Inheritance tax.
- Pension rights.
- In good times and bad, the help of a highly qualified finance professional can offer much-needed assurance and peace of mind.
If you are buying a house, it often pays to take out a mortgage, even if cash is available. ICAEW Chartered Accountants can give generic advice which may provide a useful platform for subsequent discussions with an FSA-authorised investment business adviser. They can objectively explain the different types of mortgage and insurance schemes available, their relative costs and tax advantages.
Building societies and banks frequently ask for an Accountant’s Certificate to support a client’s application for a mortgage. This certificate must provide details of the client’s income for the previous two or three years. A finance provider will usually require copies of financial statements, and may ask your accountant if they have any reason to expect your income to be lower in the current financial year. If so, they will request a forecast of income and an explanation of the decrease, so it pays to build a strong rapport with a finance professional who can quickly and easily provide a compelling snapshot of your circumstances.