Personal Finance Questions – April 2009

In this new feature we will answer some of the many questions we have been receiving from visitors to shrewdcookie.com. It is often said that if you ask a question chances are that many other people also want to ask that very same question.

Although we receive a large number of personal questions we have to remind you that we do not give financial advice on this website – we encourage you to visit an independent financial adviser, solicitor or accountant if you wish to discuss any particular course of action which may be prompted by an article you read on our site.

1. What are the new ISA allowances announced in the recent Budget?

The ISA limit is increasing from £7,200 to £10,200. The change comes into effect for the over 50’s from 6th October 2009 and from 6th April 2010 for the rest of the population. Of the new £10,200 limit, upto £5,100 will be allowed for Cash ISA investment, with any surplus between the amount you place in a Cash ISA up to £10,200 being available to invest in a stocks and shares ISA.

2. Inheritance Tax – who pays?

The liability for paying inheritance tax lies in the hands of the executors/administrators of the deceased’s estate. Inheritance tax is payable within 6 months after the end of the month in which the person passed away. It is possible to pay Inheritance Tax in instalments over up to 10 years – this is the case in circumstances where say the estate includes a house. There is an interest charge if you pursue this method of paying Inheritance Tax – http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ for more details.

3. I am married to someone who was not born in this country – how does this affect our Inheritance Tax position.

Where a spouse is deemed to be non-Uk domciled then the Interspousal transfer is limited to £55,000, there in no limit to the Interspousal transfer where both partners are UK domiciled – no liability to inheritance tax on first death if you leave all your assets to your marital partner. Consult a solicitor or accountant about your own particular situation.

4. How do I get a State Pension Forecast?

To obtain a forecast of your state pension entitlement, based on your national insurance record you need to fill out and submit a form BR19 – this article – “How Much State Pension will YOU get” gives more details.

5. If I invest a lump sum now how can I easily calculate how it will grow between now and retirement?

Using the Rule of 72 – by assuming an interest rate and dividing this into 72 will tell you how long that money will take to double in value. For example, at 6% your money will double in value every (72/6) 12 years. If you had say 36 years to retirement, at 6% growth your money would effectively double 3 times. See this article for more details.

6. Can I back-date my ISA investment to use last years allowance?

No – your money needs to be invested by midnight between 5th and 6th April each year to use the ISA allowance for that tax year – there is no way to backdate an ISA investment. A case of “use it or lose it”!

7. I am a female born in 1954 – when do I get my State pension?

State retirement age for men and women is being equalised to 65 for both sexes. See this article . There is also a State Pension Age calculator provided by The Pension Service – enter some basic details and it will tell you exactly when you qualify for your State Pension.

8. Can I hold Cash in a Stocks and Shares ISA? What is the tax liability?

Yes – many providers offer a “cash park” facility whereby you can invest temporarily in cash and then switch into stocks/funds over the short term. There is the facility to receive interest on this cash held but the interest is subject to tax and a non-taxpayer cannot reclaim this tax either. See this article for more details.

9. What is the minimum deposit on a mortgage for first-time buyers?

There is no legal minimum deposit, the minimum is set by market forces – we are currently suffering from the “credit crunch” whereby lenders are being cautious about lending to people particularly with the housing market currently falling. Therefore, more and more people are being expected to make a deposit when buying their first homes – typically 10% or more is required to obtain a good interest rate product – see “5 tips for first-time buyers” for more details.

10. What is the “deferred period” on my income protection plan for?

The deferred period is the time between notifying the claim to the life office and the benefit being paid out. The plan is designed to provider a replacement income in the event of long-term absense due to illness or accident. The longer the deferred period, the lower the risk to the insurance company of having to meet a claim which therefore means a lower premium. See these article on “income protection” for more information – “Income Protection – an introduction” and “Critical Illness Cover versus Income Protection”.

These are just some of the areas we have received enquiries on in the past month. Although we cannot reply directly please ask a question and we will try to feature it in the next FAQ article next month. Add a comment below or complete this short form to contact us.

Simon

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