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How to help your family manage your affairs when you pass away

Planning for your death can be emotionally difficult, but it could be a huge help to your loved ones. 

Research suggests administering an estate after a loved one has passed away can affect mental health and finances. Read on to learn more about some of the steps you could take to help your family manage your affairs. 

According to the Exizent Bereavement Index 2023, more than half of people dealing with bereavement and administering an estate say it’s harmed their mental health.

Furthermore, 28% said they suffered financial difficulties. This was driven by unexpected costs, Inheritance Tax (IHT) obligations, or pressure to distribute assets.

In fact, just 1% of people said they found the probate process easier than expected.

6 practical steps you could take now to ease the burden on your loved ones

1. Create a document that contains the details of all your assets

The person administrating your estate will need to gather information on all your assets. That often means tracking down accounts, debts, and more.

Make it easy for them by creating a document that contains the details of all your assets, from savings accounts and Premium Bonds to insurance. 

Once you’ve completed the document, keep it in a safe place and regularly review it to ensure it remains useful.

2. Write your will

Writing a will is the only way to ensure your assets are passed on according to your wishes. Yet, around 20% of people pass away without one in place.

A will may also make distributing your assets to loved ones much easier for the executor of your estate.

However, many estates that have a will can still present challenges. It’s estimated that, on average, more than a fifth of assets are unknown at the start of the probate process. 

Make sure the instructions in your will are clear and thorough. Overlooked assets could make handling your estate much more stressful. 

A financial review could help you understand your assets and how you’d like them to be distributed so you can reflect this in your will. While you don’t need to seek legal advice to write a will, it’s often advisable if you want to minimise mistakes. 

3. Consider how to pass on assets efficiently

The probate process can be lengthy. Your family could be waiting months to receive the legal documents they need to handle your estate and receive their inheritances, which could leave them facing financial difficulties. 

Your executor may need to apply for a probate grant. This is often needed to access your bank accounts, sell assets, and settle debts. According to data from the government, applications for probate grants between April and June 2023 took around 14 weeks to be issued. 

In addition, letters of administration are likely to be needed to allow someone to administer your estate. Obtaining these took, on average, between 18 and 23 weeks.

So, if your family rely on your income or assets to cover short-term costs, a plan to pass on assets more efficiently, such as using a trust, might be useful. We can help you understand what’s right for you and your family as part of your estate plan. 

4. Set out your funeral wishes 

Thinking about your funeral might be painful, but it can be useful for two key reasons. 

First, your family may be unsure about your preferences – would you prefer a burial or cremation? Are there particular songs you’d like played during the service?

Setting out your wishes can make organising the funeral much less stressful for your loved ones. 

Second, it allows you to set money aside to pay for the costs. With more than a quarter of families administrating estates facing financial difficulties, it could relieve a large burden.  

The costs associated with a funeral can often be released from your estate before the probate process is concluded. 

5. Understand if your estate could be liable for Inheritance Tax

The administrator of your estate will be responsible for settling an IHT bill if your estate is liable.

While IHT is paid after you pass away, it’s something you can consider during your lifetime. If the total value of your estate exceeds the nil-rate band threshold, which is £325,000 in 2023/24, your estate could be liable for IHT.

There are often steps you can take to reduce a potential IHT bill if you’re proactive. It may mean you pass on more of your wealth to loved ones and make your estate easier to manage.

If you think IHT could affect your estate, please contact us. We can help you understand what steps you may take to mitigate a potential tax bill. 

6. Involve loved ones in your financial plan

You don’t need to share the details of all your assets, but involving your family in your financial plan could mean they have a better understanding of your wealth and wishes. 

As financial planners, we can work with you and your loved ones to create an estate plan that suits you and eases the burden on those who will administer your estate. 

In addition, introducing your family to us may help them manage their own assets and inheritances better.

If you’d like to talk to us about your estate plan and the steps you can take to make your estate easier to manage, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, trusts, will writing, or legal services.

HM Revenue and Customs practice and the law relating to taxation are complex and subject to individual circumstances and changes which cannot be foreseen.

More people than ever celebrate their 100th birthday. Here’s why it affects financial plans

More people in England and Wales are celebrating their 100th birthday. It could have implications for your financial plan and creating an income in retirement. 

According to a release from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), on Census Day in 2021, there were 13,924 centenarians living in England and Wales. The oldest person to complete the census was 112. 

While centenarians represent just 0.02% of the total population, the number of people celebrating the milestone is growing rapidly. In fact, when compared to 100 years ago, the number of centenarians has increased 127-fold. Between 2011 and 2021, the number of people over 100 increased by 24.5%. 

Once population is taken into account, the UK ranks as the ninth country for the highest number of centenarians. 

Centenarians will have lived through the second world war and decimalisation 

The almost 14,000 centenarians who completed the 2021 census have lived through many defining moments. 

Babies born in 1921 would have been just 18 years old when Britain entered the second world war. They would also have lived through:

  • The establishment of the NHS in 1948
  • Commercial television starting in 1955
  • The introduction of the decimalisation system affecting currency in 1971. 

As people live longer lives, it raises some challenges about how to create long-term financial security.  

Workers may need to save far more for their retirement or adjust their plans

Rising longevity could mean people spend far longer in retirement.

With people often thinking about stepping away from work in their 60s, some could find their pension needing to provide an income for four decades. As a result, workers may need to start considering how they’ll save enough to meet their lifestyle goals, or whether to adjust their plans, such as phasing into retirement gradually. 

Baby girls born in 2021 have an almost 1 in 5 chance of reaching their 100th birthday, while baby boys have a 1 in 7 chance. As celebrating the milestone becomes more commonplace, the target amount to save for retirement could rise sharply. 

Engaging with your pension during your working life may help your retirement savings and plans stay on track. 

Retirees could benefit from considering life expectancy when they withdraw an income 

It’s not just those saving for retirement that may want to consider the effect life expectancy has.

If you’re already withdrawing an income from your pension or other assets, is it sustainable – if you lived to 100, could your assets run out during your lifetime? 

Some retirees might find they’re withdrawing too much now, which could leave them facing financial challenges in the future. 

A retirement plan can help you assess how the financial decisions you make today could affect your long-term financial security, including if you live to 100. It may help you balance your goals with stability. 

Longer lives may mean more people need support later in life

Living longer may come with more health complications too. It could mean you need to pay for support or care costs in your later years.

A longer life doesn’t mean care costs are inevitable. Indeed, a quarter of centenarians reported having good or very good health, and a third weren’t affected by disability at all. What’s more, 2 in 5 have maintained their independence and live alone, and a fifth live in a private house with other people. 

However, making potential care costs part of your long-term financial plan may mean you have more options if you do need help in the future. 

Contact us to create a financial plan that suits your goals 

A financial plan that’s tailored to you could provide greater confidence in your future. We can help you understand what steps you may take to improve your financial security considering a range of factors, including longevity. 

Please contact us to arrange a meeting to talk about your retirement goals and any concerns you may have.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits. The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation, which are subject to change in the future.

Investment market update: July 2023

Data from economies around the world indicate business output and confidence could be slowing. Read on to find out what influenced the investment market in July 2023. 

Despite some data suggesting there could be a downturn in some areas, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lifted its global growth forecast for 2023. The organisation now expects the global economy to grow by 3%, up from its previous prediction of 2.8%. 

Globally, both households and businesses could face pressure as energy prices may rise in the colder months. The International Energy Agency warned that, if China’s economy rebounds this year, energy prices may spike in winter. 


The pace of inflation in the UK is slowing. Yet, it remains stubbornly high and above many other economies at 7.9% in the 12 months to June 2023. The latest inflation figures prompted the Bank of England (BoE) to hike its base interest rate again – as of July 2023, it stands at 5%. 

The IMF predicts the BoE will need to keep interest rates high for longer than expected due to economic challenges.

Further rises could cause market volatility – the FTSE 100 hit its lowest closing level of 2023 ahead of the July BoE announcement at the start of the month. 

The interest rate increases have led to mortgage rates soaring. In July, the average five-year fixed-rate mortgage deal exceeded 6% for the first time since 2008. In fact, by the end of 2026, the BoE predicts that 1 million households will see their monthly mortgage repayments increase by £500.

While many borrowers have been affected by interest rates increasing almost immediately, saving rates have been lagging. The Financial Conduct Authority set out expectations for “fair and competitive savings” during the month, and savers may have started to see the earnings on their savings rise as a result.

The latest release from the Office for National Statistics shows that between February and April 2023, the average wage increased by 7.2%. While growth is good news, the figure is below inflation and so wages are falling in real terms.

As well as soaring mortgage costs, food inflation has significantly affected household budgets. So, it may be of little surprise that a survey for i newspaper found 67% of consumers would back the idea of a price cap on essential goods.

Data suggests many businesses are struggling too.

According to a Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) UK factories shrank at their fastest pace in six months in June. Output, new orders, and employment levels all fell and could signal the challenges will continue into the medium term. 

As businesses struggle with rising costs, insolvencies are expected to rise. Figures released by the Insolvency Service show business bankruptcies were 27% higher in June when compared to the same period in 2022. 

Begbies Traynor, a business recovery and financial consultancy, believes insolvencies will rise over the next 18 months due to interest rate hikes. The firm added that “zombie” businesses have been able to continue operating due to cheap borrowing costs but will now struggle to service debts. 

While there have been ups and downs in the market throughout July, the pound hit a 15-month high after all major UK banks passed BoE stress tests. 


Inflation in the Eurozone fell to 5.5% in the 12 months to June 2023. While still above the long-term average, it’s lower than the 8.6% recorded in June 2022. 

In response, the European Central Bank increased interest rates to its highest level in more than 20 years. The deposit rate is 3.75% as of July 2023. 

PMI data indicates businesses in the Eurozone are facing similar challenges to the UK. Overall business activity fell and moved into negative territory. Factory output was also weak in June, particularly in Austria, Germany and Italy, and employment fell for the first time since January 2021. 


Steps taken by the Federal Reserve have successfully slowed inflation in the US. In the 12 months to June, it was 3% – a two-year low. 

According to PMI data, the US factory sector took a “sharp turn for the worse” in June. The results mirror the situation in Europe, with new orders falling. It’s increased concerns that the country could slip into a recession in the second half of the year.

While there may be worries about the US economy, official data indicates businesses are still confident about their future. American companies added half a million jobs to the economy in June and US wages increased by 4.4%. 

In company news, Twitter’s rebrand to X is estimated to have wiped billions off the company’s value.

Since Tesla owner Elon Musk took over the social media platform in October 2022, he’s made a raft of changes. In July, Musk revealed a new name and logo for the platform, which have drawn criticism. According to Fortune, changing the name has wiped out between $4 billion and $20 billion in brand value.  

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

2 key reasons why you may want to update your plan during a financial review

Regular financial reviews may help keep you on track to meet your goals and give you confidence in the steps you’re taking. As well as reviewing your assets, you might also want to make changes to your plan.

Last month, you read about why you shouldn’t skip your financial reviews and how they could help you reach your goals. Now, read on to discover two reasons why you might want to make changes to your financial plan during a review. 

Updating your plan in response to short-term movements could harm your goals

While there are times when it’s appropriate to update your financial plan, you should be aware of the risks of responding to short-term movements or bias.

Stock market volatility can be nerve-wracking. If you’ve read about the value of shares falling, it can be tempting to withdraw money from the market to preserve your wealth. However, it could have a negative effect on your progress towards your long-term goals.

Historically, markets have delivered returns over the long term, and investors who weather the ups and downs have benefited in the long run. By taking money out of investments during a downturn, you turn paper losses into actual ones.

Of course, investment returns cannot be guaranteed and do carry risks. Understanding which investments align with your circumstances and objectives may help you take an appropriate level of risk.

Similarly, after speaking to a friend about how they’re investing in a certain asset that’s going to deliver “great returns”, you might want to follow suit. Behavioural biases, like following the crowd, could lead to you making unnecessary changes to your plan, which could harm the projected outcomes. 

Remember, your goals and circumstances should be at the centre of your financial plan. If changes are tempting, taking a step back to calculate what’s driving the decisions could be useful. 

So, following a financial review, why might you make changes? There are several reasons why it may be appropriate, including these two.

1. Your goals or circumstances have changed

Your financial plan should be built around your goals and circumstances. Over time, these may change, and altering your plan may ensure it continues to reflect your lifestyle.

Perhaps you want to bring forward your retirement date, so you increase pension contributions as a result to provide you with financial security? Or becoming a parent might mean taking out life insurance would provide peace of mind, or you’d like to build a nest egg for your child. 

A financial review is a chance to let your financial planner know about changes in your life.

It means they can offer advice that’s suitable for you and your aspirations. In some cases, it could mean altering your plan so that it continues to align with your life. 

2. Government changes will affect your plans

Sometimes government announcements will affect what’s suitable for you. Changes to allowances, tax hikes, and more could mean adjusting your financial plan would help you get more out of your assets. 

The recent announcement that the government will abolish the pension Lifetime Allowance is a good example.

From 2024, there’s expected to be no limit on how much you can save into your pension over your lifetime. It might mean it’s appropriate to increase your pension contributions or it could alter your retirement date. 

Keeping on top of the latest news and then understanding what it means for you can be difficult.

Your financial reviews provide an opportunity for your financial planner to explain what announcements mean for you. Tailored advice can help you identify potential risks or opportunities that may lead to changes in your long-term plan. 

Contact us to discuss your financial plan

If you have any questions about your financial plan or would like to understand how we could support you, please get in touch.

Next month, read our blog to find out why financial reviews may help you reduce impulsive financial decisions and focus on your long-term aims. 

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time. The value of any tax relief depends on individual circumstances.

Here’s what mortgage lenders consider when carrying out affordability tests

Applying for a mortgage can be stressful. You might worry a lender will reject your application and the effect it could have on your plans. A better understanding of what lenders are considering when making a decision may be useful and could reduce anxiety. 

Even if you’ve been through the mortgage process before, rising interest rates could mean you feel more nervous about your application. 

Some homeowners are finding that, despite being up to date with their mortgage payments, they can’t switch to a more affordable mortgage. Dubbed “mortgage prisoners”, higher interest rates mean they no longer pass affordability tests. 

Lenders use affordability tests to measure risk 

Affordability tests are an important part of the mortgage application process.

The Bank of England (BoE) first introduced stringent affordability tests in 2014 to reduce the chance of buyers taking on levels of debt they couldn’t pay back. They followed the 2008 financial crisis, which is partly attributed to unaffordable mortgages. 

However, in 2022, the BoE reviewed the mortgage market and relaxed the rules. Yet, mortgage lenders are likely to still carry out their own affordability tests when you apply.

Lenders use them to measure how much risk you pose – how likely are you to default on your mortgage? Could you cope with a financial shock? The result could affect whether they approve your application and the terms you’re offered. 

The 3 crucial areas mortgage lenders review during affordability tests

Each lender will have their own criteria when they’re reviewing mortgage applications, and they may look for specific factors when carrying out affordability tests. However, there are three key areas they may consider. 

1. Your income and employment stability

As lenders want to understand if you can afford mortgage repayments, your income is an essential part of your mortgage application. As well as how much you earn, they will also want to understand your employment status. For example, are you employed or self-employed?

Financially stable borrowers are less likely to miss mortgage repayments. So, they may also consider whether your job is stable – if you’ve remained with the same employer for a few years, it could weigh in your favour. In contrast, switching jobs just before you apply for a mortgage could be a mark against you. 

2. Your household expenses each month

How much income you earn doesn’t help lenders understand your financial position without context. So, they’ll also look at your regular household expenses, and how these may change.

It could highlight potential pressure on your budget and show if mortgage repayments would be affordable. 

While discretionary spending often isn’t looked at closely by lenders, there are red flags you should be aware of. For instance, if you’re regularly using your overdraft before payday, or you’ve spent money gambling recently, mortgage providers could take a negative view of your application. 

3. Your ability to weather financial shocks

The unexpected can happen, and lenders want reassurance that you could still make repayments if you faced a shock. They may consider how your finances would hold up if you had to take several months off work, or other similar scenarios.

The recent interest rate rises are a good example of mortgage holders facing a financial change they may not have foreseen.

Since the end of 2021, the BoE has increased interest rates. It’s led to soaring mortgage repayments for some homeowners, and many more could face increased bills when their current deal ends. According to the Independent, 1 million households could see their monthly mortgage repayments increase by £500 by 2026.

As part of their stress tests, lenders may consider if you could weather further increases to the interest rate.

Understanding your lender’s criteria could improve your chances of securing a mortgage

If you’re worried you may not pass affordability tests, remember, lenders set their own criteria. Not being accepted by one provider doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t access a mortgage.

A mortgage broker could help you understand which lenders may be right for you. It may improve your chances of securing a mortgage, and might even help you access a more competitive interest rate. 

If you have questions or would like our guidance when applying for a mortgage, please contact us. 

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or other loans secured on it.

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