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What are the pitfalls for clients of not having their pension death benefits nomination up to date?

Lorraine Denton

By Lorraine Denton, Chartered Financial Planner at Punter Southall Wealth

A reported increase in people wanting to write or amend their wills at the start of COVID-19 (with some legal firms claiming a jump in demand of up to 76%) tells us that the pandemic has sharply focused people’s minds on making sure that their affairs are in order and that their wealth is transferred to the right beneficiaries should the worst happen.

A pension makes cascading residual wealth to loved ones and future generations possible and can be very tax-efficient, because many pension funds fall outside the estate of the plan-holder on death and do not suffer Inheritance Tax. Making nominations is important to ensure that your wishes to leave a legacy are clear. Without a nomination, the benefit options on death are significantly reduced.

While arranging a will may be the first thought for many, equal consideration should be given to what happens to any pension savings on death. Pensions are a significant part of private wealth for many. The ONS estimate** that 42% of total wealth in Great Britain is held in private pensions.

In addition, accumulated pension savings are playing an increasing part in transferring wealth to future generations, with many savers now preserving their pension funds and taking an income from other savings first.

So as a Financial Planner, what am I looking to do for my clients? Firstly, prior to ensuring that my clients achieve the best outcomes for their remaining funds on death, it is crucial for me that their wishes are identified, and everything is in place to get money in the right hands with the least amount of tax payable. It is vital to ensure that a client has the correct type of pension scheme and that they are optimising their pension savings; only then do we check that their death benefit nominations accurately reflect their current wishes.

It is at this point that it is imperative to ensure that integrated death benefit planning takes place, and that decision-making concerning pension death benefit choices is coordinated with decisions taken about the will.

As Financial Planners, we build good relationships with other business professionals to ensure the best outcomes for our clients. By working together, the Financial Planner and Solicitor will look at all aspects and implications relating to your will and death benefits. This may involve us all meeting together to finalise the advice.

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