Keep ‘Em Guessing

by | Dec 10, 2014

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Your Will? It’s All About Managing Expectations, Says Richard Harvey


I’ve never signed up to the theory that baby boomers like me have won the lottery of life, have never had it so good, and are depriving the succeeding generation of their rightful rewards.

As if to prove the point, Aviva Retirement Solutions have calculated that, on average, the over-55s have an income of £1,373 a month, or £16,476 a year. Well, whoopee-doo – crack out the Emva Cream (info for younger readers: a particularly lethal Cyprus sherry, much favoured in the 1960s by those seeking oblivion before Sunday lunch).

That sort of income hardly promises a lotus-eating lifestyle of Michelin-starred restaurants and Bahamian getaways. More likely a KFC bucket and one of those holidays-for-a-tenner featured in the Daily Star.

The SKI Generation

It also comes as no surprise that, according to LV, more than half of the 60-plus generation, and nearly two thirds of those in their late 50s, are considering selling their homes to help fund their retirement. Not that they are boasting about it – especially to the kids.

Indeed, around 20 percent of oldsters keep zip-lipped schtumm about their financial plans. Some don’t even tell their partners how much they’ve got salted away.

Being particularly pain-sensitive, this is not a course I have ever followed, because a) the Good Lady Wife earns more than I do (but then she is 10 years younger) and b) because she wields a Tyson-esque left hook at the merest suspicion that I’m keeping secrets from her.

Late Surprises

However, it’s a moot point when it comes to revealing all to the offspring. Just how much do you tell the kids about the size of your savings and the clauses in your Will specifying who gets what “after you’ve gone” (to pinch Michael Parkinson’s twee TV ad euphemism.)

Being upfront with your partner and children about current savings and future legacies does at least avoid the possibility of an all-out family brawl in the solicitor’s office on the day your Will is read (particularly if you’ve left a little something to that ex-secretary of yours).

On the other hand, and given the possibility that we may spend whatever money we’ve got left funding our latter years at the Sunset Home for the Terminally Enfeebled, any promises of largesse to come will be meaningless.

Perhaps the happiest compromise is, to borrow a bit of management speak, ensuring that you manage expectations.

Declaring that you plan to blow the equity in your home plus everything in your pension pot, which that nice Mr Osborne has given you carte blanche to do, may not endear you to your children, but at least you’re being honest (if brutal).

Or you could tell them that from now on, you‘re avoiding all conspicuous expenditure, and plan to spend the rest of your days at home, in front of a one-bar electric fire watching box-sets of ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Strictly’. While this will reassure them that their personal gravy train is clickety-clacking down the track, it’s unlikely to earn you their sympathy.

So here’s an idea for a bit of post-mortem retribution. Bequeath the lot to the Distressed IFAs’ Benevolent Fund. It may not exist, but they won’t know that, and it least it might pay for a decent party.


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