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    financial planning

August 24, 2017

When to Seek Financial Advice with Bespoke Support Network Essex

A good financial advisor can help you through difficult financial times as well as making sure you make the more suitable financial choices for your future. However, it can be hard to determine whether a situation seems worthy enough to seek the help of financial planning.

With the world of finance constantly changing, there are new opportunities and rules that will help you save money like increases in ISA limits, meaning you can save more money tax-free. Other changes to inheritance tax mean you will be able to leave more money to your children and grandchildren for the future.

While this gives many new, exciting opportunities to save money, it also gives more chances for making mistakes which could be costly and irreversible for your finances. This is the perfect reason to get in touch with a financial advisor and start discussing financial planning.

So in what circumstances should you get financial advice?

  • Pensions – The pension market is extremely difficult to comprehend and so the chances of you making a mistake is huge. Your pension is a huge asset to your future finances and therefore needs to be planned very carefully in order to make sure you can retire while maintaining the lifestyle you are used to. So whether you’re just starting out in your working life, or you’re getting close to retirement age and have accumulated a number of company pensions along the way, a financial advisor can help you manage your assets to make sure they meet your objectives when the time comes.
  • Investments – Say you have received a lump sum of inheritance, or are planning on generating some income prior to your retirement, you will need a good financial advisor to question you about your goals and ambitions. They will be able to provide you with the relevant solutions to achieving these goals. They should also inform you of the risks associated to making the investment and work with you to create an investment package should you need it.
  • Life Insurance – Most life insurance products are relatively easy to understand, however there are some that are complicated. If your particular circumstances and finances are not as straightforward as you would hope, you should get advice from an advisor. They will ask you about your goals and find out what your financial situation is like. Once the advisor knows about your situation, they will be able to guide you to the right solution.
  • Tax Planning – For high earners, tax planning is invaluable in minimizing the impact of Inheritance Tax, dealing with tax on a second property or helping self-employed to manage their taxes.

Are you in need of a financial advisor? The team at Bespoke Support Network have a database of thousands of trusted financial advisors throughout the South East. With experts providing business advice Essex to qualified will writers, we have professionals for every aspect of individual and business finance and legal practice.

February 24, 2017

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Will?

People are often put off creating a will by the cost and time spent writing one. In this blog, Bespoke Support Network will look at different options and costs available to you, including making a will online, a DIY will and using a professional will writing company or solicitor.


DIY Write Your Own Will

Writing your own will is ill advised as often incorrect wills will be deemed invalid and leave your family with a financial mess. However, if your affairs are particularly straightforward you can risk writing your own will (but be prepared if it is invalid). Your DIY will, requires you to follow the instructions given very carefully.

There are a variety of DIY will kits available online and in stores from retailers like Amazon & WHSmith, as well as online templates you can use. These will kits and templates cost between £9.99 and £14.99.

DIY Wills are not suitable if:

  • Someone who is unable to care for themselves is financially dependent on you.
  • Your wish to pass your assets is very specific.
  • You have children from a previous marriage.
  • You have young children, who will need a Guardian and Child Trust.
  • You have property overseas.
  • You own a business.
  • You want to reduce or avoid inheritance tax.

Professional Will Writer

In recent years, the most common option for people looking to write a will is to have it created by a specialist will writer. A professional will writer offer’s a personal service, being able to visit you at your home to plan the details of your will.

When it comes to making your will you ideally only want to do it once, especially as having it professionally written can cost you up to £100. However, by having it professionally drafted and written, you can ensure that you avoid any costly mistakes for your family and future generations.

Solicitor Written Wills

Family solicitors tend to deal with a range of client issues, from divorce to employment law, but not all of them are professionally qualified in wills and trusts. Make sure you choose a solicitor who specialises in these areas i.e. will writing.

In terms of cost, a solicitor can cost you up to £250 to draft and write your will. While it may seem expensive, using a qualified solicitor prevents there being any mistakes in your will, meaning your family can adhere to your wishes as you wanted them.

Bespoke Support Network aims to provide advice to businesses and individuals alike, everything from financial planning to wills and probate. For more information and help with your business needs, call us today.

February 22, 2017

A Guide to Updating Your Will

It’s scary how many people write a will, forgetting that every time something significant happens in their lives it is important to update it. There are many times in your life where this is required. It can be a common mistake to make, but an important one all the same. You may think it seems like an annoyance, or a task that you simply don’t have time or the money to do, but it can save a lot of heart ache and problems for your loved ones in the future.

Reasons to Update Your will

  • Marriage and divorce
  • Birth or adopting a child
  • Death of family members or beneficiaries
  • Your chosen executor can no longer serve or has possibly passed away
  • Your children are no longer minors and can deal with financial matters
  • Considerable Changes to your estate and assets

How do I update my will?

 updateyourwill-428331_960_720When it comes to updating your will, there are two ways of doing so; First, you could prepare a new will, signing it to revoke the earlier made will. Or you could write a codicil to the already existing will. This is a separate document that can add provisions to the will you have already written. It simply needs to be witnessed and signed just as your will was, to make it valid.

You can change anything in your will using a codicil, from a single word to several sections. But a codicil is often best used for smaller changes, as they can cause complications in the event of your death. Sometimes if you need to change several things in your will it is better to rewrite your existing will, especially as sometimes codicils can sometimes manage to get lost.

If you are going to rewrite your will, there are a couple of things to look out for. Ensure that you’re revoking any old wills and codicils. As well as this, you need to make sure you destroy any copies of your old will and tell your executor where your new will can be easily accessed for when the time comes.

Bespoke Support Network aims to provide advice to businesses and individuals alike, everything from financial planning to wills and probate. For more information and help with your business needs, call us today.


February 16, 2017

What is Probate?

Before next of kin or executors can start administrating a deceased person’s will, they will need to apply for probate, but what is probate?

‘Probate’ is the legal and financial process of dealing with the estate of someone who has passed away. It is used to describe both the Grant of Probate and the process involved in obtaining it, which includes:

  • Making an inheritance tax return to HMRC
  • Paying the tax due
  • Finalising income tax affairs and pensions
  • Collecting in the estate from banks, building societies and selling assets
  • Paying money due to beneficiaries, making any gifts of items to beneficiaries and preparing accounts for the estate.

In fact, there are actually two types of grant: probate and letters of administration. Probate is granted when the deceased left with a valid will, while letters of administration are granted where the deceased did not leave a will.

Who is Responsible?


It is the responsibility of the executors named in their will to apply for Probate. In most cases, the executors will be family or friends of the departed but some people will appoint professional executors (a solicitor or will writer).

If there are no executors named or no will present at the time of probate, a blood relative or someone who would benefit from the will must become the administrator of the estate. The administrator performs the same tasks that an executor would but they will have no will to act upon.

The Process

Obtaining a grant of probate may not be necessary for estates of less than £15,000, or if the assets were held jointly and are passing to a surviving spouse or civil partner.

However, if you do need to carry out probate, the first step will be to identify all the deceased’s assets (property, investments and possessions) and all their liabilities (debts, loans and utility bills), in order to determine the value of their estate.

After paying the inheritance tax to HMRC and being issued the Grant of Representation, you will need to prepare the estate accounts, documenting all payments into and out of the estate as well as the balance left for distribution to beneficiaries. Providing there are no challenges to the estate or the will itself, then the final phase will be to gather the executors together and distribute assets in accordance to the will.

How long does Probate take? 

Depending on how complex the deceased’s estate is, it will take longer to process Probate of someone with multiple properties, shares and accounts than if they had owned a single bank account and very few assets.

It will also depend on how much time the administrators can dedicate to processing probate. If they’re able to take leave from work to deal with probate, they will be able to take care of it quicker.

On average, the process of probate normally takes between six to nine months and up to 80 working hours to complete.

Bespoke Support Network aims to provide advice to businesses and individuals alike, everything from wills and probate to financial planning. For more information and help with your business needs, call us today.


February 14, 2017

What Are Letters of Wishes?

What is a letter of wishes?

A letter of wishes is a document that accompanies your will when you pass. While the letter of wishes is not a legally binding document, it can guide your executors and trustees to ensure that all your personal wishes are carried out.


Why should you make one?

A letter of wishes is particularly helpful in several situations, including the opportunity to explain why certain family members have not been included as beneficiaries. The main topics a letter of wishes covers is:

  • Who to Notify of Your Death
    The letter of wishes can help your executors or trustees as well as relatives address who to tell about your passing, and possibly who not to tell.
  • Your Funeral Wishes
    In your letter you may include as much or as little detail about your funeral proceedings as you want. From a simple request for a burial or cremation, to the specific arrangements for the service taking place. Often, people write down the specific hymns and music they want played, along with flowers to be used.
  • Personal Items
    If you have particular items that you want to pass onto special relatives i.e. precious jewellery or valuable keepsakes, then your letter of wishes can detail how your personal items will divided out to your specific family members.
  • Guardians

Particularly important to a letter of wishes is passing on the responsibility for looking after your children to their chosen guardians. In the event that you pass before your children are adults themselves, then your letter of wishes can provide guidance to your appointed guardians to help them care for your children.

How to write a letter of wishes.

There is not a standard answer for how the letter should be set out but you must try not to alter the terms of your will throughout the letter of wishes. Your will makes the legal decisions and your letter will give guidance to those left to deal with your final wishes.

Bespoke Support Network aims to provide advice to businesses and individuals alike, everything from wills and probate to financial planning. For more information and help with your business needs, call us today.


February 10, 2017

5 Common Wills and Probate Mistakes

Here are the most common mistakes people make on their Wills and Probate.

‘Common Lwriting-1149962_960_720aw Marriage’ Applies

Often, cohabiting couples will assume that their partner will inherit all their assets in the event of their death, if they don’t have a will. However, under the rules of Intestacy in England and Wales, if you and your partner are not married, the other partner will receive nothing from your estate. While they may be able to later claim against your estate or receive your share of a jointly owned property, there is no guarantee.

A Will is ‘Watertight’
It is often believed that a will cannot be varied or challenged after their death. However, there are a number of ways in which your will and estate can be challenged, and there is no guarantee that the wishes contained in a will are always carried out. However, there are ways to minimize the risks of a claim being made, for example if you were to ensure the will makes a reasonable provision for financial dependents.

Wills Don’t Have To Be Updated

A will usually reflects your circumstances when it is made, meaning if you are single and have no children when it’s made it is highly unlikely to make any provision for your spouse or children if you later marry and start a family. Therefore, as your personal circumstances change, you should always review your will to see whether or not it still represents your circumstances and wishes.

Bargains Are Always The Right Choice

Will writing is an unregulated industry in England and Wales, leaving individuals with many options as to how they choose to write it. The traditional option is to find a solicitor or professional will writer to draft a will for you. However, DIY will kits are just as popular for people wanting to write their own will. These can lead to the will being marked as invalid though so it’s important to take this into consideration first.

Time Limits Don’t Apply

Once an estate has been administered, it will become more difficult to recover the assets. If you have a claim against an estate or concerns about a will, it is important to raise these issues and obtain specialist legal advice as soon as possible, rather than waiting for several years. In some cases, the time limit involved can be as little as six months for the date of the grant of probate.

Bespoke Support Network aims to provide advice to businesses and individuals alike, everything from wills and probate to financial planning. For more information and help with your business needs, call us today.

February 8, 2017

What is Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance Tax, otherwise known as ‘the voluntary tax’, is a tax on the estate of someone who’s died.

Typically there is no Inheritance Tax to pay if;

  • The value of the estate is below £325,000 threshold
  • You leave everything to your spouse or civil partner, charity or club.

In 2015, the Inheritance Tax was changed to allow people to pass on more to their children or grandchildren without being taxed. However, a new limit is set to be introduced in April which will allow individuals to pass on estates valued up to £500,000 tax-free.

Both married couples and civil partners are currently treated as individuals, each allowed to pass on their full allowance. The allowance is also transferable even if one partner dies before April 2017.


How does inheritance tax work?

Currently, each individual is tax at a rate of 40pc on all his or her assets above the threshold. This threshold is £325,000, but from April a new, higher threshold including a “family home allowance”, will begin to be phased in.

How will it change?

The new 2015 Budget introduced a new provision that allowed individuals and married couples the opportunity to pass on their main home with a smaller tax liability.

In 2017-18, the tax liability will be worth £100,000 but will gradually get bigger over the coming years.

However, there is a catch. This total must include a “family home”, which must be the main property. Buy-to-let and second properties will add to the total size of the estate as normal.

This means that married couples will be able to pass on estates worth up to £1m to their direct descendants, including a family home.

How will this affect my tax bill?

This change will bring down costs for all estate sizes including family homes. If you own a small estate you will still be exempt from inheritance tax, but larger estates which included family homes will have up to £140,000 extra tax-free allowance, for married couples.

The additional allowance will gradually be withdrawn for properties worth more than £2m.

Bespoke Support Network aims to provide advice to businesses and individuals alike, everything from financial planning to wills and probate. For more information and help with your business needs, call us today.